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Native Cooking Column by Dale Carson

A lot of people think that the American turkey should be the winged symbol of the country rather than the bald eagle which is a predator. That might not be a good idea because the turkey might be considered an endangered species then and we wouldn't be able to eat it. In Europe, especially England, there was food trade with Turkey from the Middle Ages on. In those times, any edible fowl that people were not familiar with was called "turkey." There is no agreement between historians as to when the American turkey was introduced into Europe, but it was sometime in the early 1500s when it became very popular. The wild turkey that these Europeans first encountered on our shores were reported to weigh as much as 50 pounds. Nothing like that would fit in my oven.

At one time, I catered an event where smoked turkeys were the featured entree. There were about 15 turkeys smoked by volunteers at this site and we served it with salads of wild green and edible flowers, baked butternut squash, cranberry sauce, corn, pumpkin and corn breads, herbed wild rice and more. The smoked turkey is the closest in flavor to wild turkey which features darker meat and a deeper flavor even a little on the wild side. You can use a commercial smoker and I think that is the best way to keep the flavor in, but a charcoal grill can be just as satisfying if you use the right wood soaked in water and tend to it properly. When you use this method, you will need to cook the stuffing separately in the oven or on the side of the grill near the end of the turkey roasting.

Smoked Turkey

1 12 to 15 pound turkey

Marinade:

1 cup lemon juice

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon red pepper

1 teaspoon black pepper

2 teaspoons prepared mustard

2 teaspoons brown sugar

2 cloves of garlic, pressed

2 teaspoons flour

1 cup butter or margarine, melted

White wine vinegar

Get your grill fire going and soak a good number of hickory chips in water. When the fire is going and healthy, add the chips. Mix the marinade ingredients in a jar and shake well. Add enough of the vinegar to make one cup. Add this to the melted butter and cook until thickened.

Cook the turkey on the fire, covered, for one hour. Then baste the turkey frequently with the marinade, inside the cavity as well. Keep cooking the turkey until a meat thermometer says at least 180 degrees. This should take four to five hours for a 14 pound turkey, watch closely toward the end. Let it sit and rest for 15 minutes before carving.

*You can marinate the turkey overnight, but if you do, cover it with foil for the first hour of cooking so that it won't brown too much. It needs to cook through.

Corn Bread - Chestnut Stuffing

1 cornbread, homemade or from mix

1 egg, lightly beaten

2 slices white or wheat bread

1 cup hot water

2 cups chestnuts, chopped

1/2 cup melted butter

1 teaspoon ground thyme

1 teaspoon ground cumin

Salt and pepper to taste

1/2 cup golden raisins, optional

Mix all together lightly and place in deep baking dish. Cover and bake for 30 minutes at 350 degrees an hour before turkey is done.

Along the coastline it is also the season for scallops and clams. Growing up, the prevailing rule was not to eat or harvest shellfish in a month without an "R" in it. That is not so true today with new methods of preserving food and fast delivery on ice to markets, but still be careful. Scallops are just ready about now and they are a bit harder to harvest than clams. Bay scallops are the little ones. Your choice, but we love the big sea scallops. They both have a lovely subtle flavor all their own.

Toasty Baked Scallops

1 pound of sea scallops

1 cup of crushed cracker crumbs (Ritz, Toasteds, Town House, your preference)

1/2 cup of butter, melted

Mix the scallops and crumbs together. Put into a greased baking dish. Pour the butter over the top. Bake at 375 degrees for 25 minutes.

Dried Corn Delish

1 cup of dried corn, ground in a blender or food processor

3 cups of cold milk

2 tablespoons butter, melted

1 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons sugar

2 eggs, well beaten

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Mix all ingredients together and pour into a greased baking dish. Bake for 50 minutes.

Blue Corn Pudding

1/2 cup blue cornmeal

1/2 cup water

4 cups milk, scalded

3/4 cup molasses

1/4 cup sugar

1 teaspoon ground ginger

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup cold milk

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Grease a 9x13-inch baking dish. Mix the cornmeal with the water and stir this into the scalded milk. Now add molasses, spices, sugar, salt and mix well. Pour into baking dish and bake for 30 minutes. Add the cold milk slowly and bake for three hours.

Notes & Tips

* To scald milk cook it and WATCH it until it is just about ready to boil. There will be tiny bubbles starting to form and it will make a sizzling noise - turn it off quick.

* Turkey needs to rest after baking. A half hour is best. Otherwise, it will be crumbly when you go to carve it into thin slices.

* Interesting facts:

A rat can last longer without water than a camel.

Bruce Lee was so fast that they actually had to slow film down so you could see his moves.

Chewing gum while peeling onions will keep you from crying.