[Sca-cooks] NOT from the NY Times food section, but...

Johnna Holloway johnnae at mac.com
Tue Aug 5 08:30:19 PDT 2008

There was an amusing scene in the BBC production of
The Secret Life of Mrs. Beeton where they filmed the actress
Anna Madeley trying to deal with a huge live turtle in the making
of turtle soup. The scene is based on a recipe in the cookbook.
Compliments of 

          TURTLE SOUP (founded on M. Ude’s Recipe).

189. INGREDIENTS.—A turtle, 6 slices of ham, 2 knuckles of veal, 1 large 
bunch of sweet herbs, 3 bay-leaves, parsley, green onions, 1 onion, 6 
cloves, 4 blades of mace, 1/4 lb. of fresh butter, 1 bottle of Madeira, 
1 lump of sugar. For the /Quenelles à Tortue/, 1 lb. of veal, 1 lb. of 
bread crumbs, milk, 7 eggs, cayenne, salt, spices, chopped parsley, the 
juice of 2 lemons.

/Mode/.—To make this soup with less difficulty, cut off the head of the 
turtle the preceding day. In the morning open the turtle by leaning 
heavily with a knife on the shell of the animal’s back, whilst you cut 
this off all round. Turn it upright on its end, that all the water, &c. 
may run out, when the flesh should be cut off along the spine, with the 
knife sloping towards the bones, for fear of touching the gall, which 
sometimes might escape the eye. When all the flesh about the members is 
obtained, wash these clean, and let them drain. Have ready, on the fire, 
a large vessel full of boiling water, into which put the shells; and 
when you perceive that they come easily off, take them out of the water, 
and prick them all, with those of the back, belly, fins, head, &c. Boil 
the back and belly till the bones can be taken off, without, however, 
allowing the softer parts to be sufficiently done, as they will be 
boiled again in the soup. When these latter come off easily, lay them on 
earthen dishes singly, for fear they should stick together, and put them 
to cool. Keep the liquor in which you have blanched the softer parts, 
and let the bones stew thoroughly in it, as this liquor must be used to 
moisten all the sauces.

All the flesh of the interior parts, the four legs and head, must be 
drawn down in the following manner:—Lay the slices of ham on the bottom 
of a very large stewpan, over them the knuckles of veal, according to 
the size of the turtle; then the inside flesh of the turtle, and over 
the whole the members. Now moisten with the water in which you are 
boiling the shell, and draw it down thoroughly. It may now be 
ascertained if it be thoroughly done by thrusting a knife into the 
fleshy part of the meat. If no blood appears, it is time to moisten it 
again with the liquor in which the bones, &c. have been boiling. Put in 
a large bunch of all such sweet herbs as are used in the cooking of a 
turtle,—sweet basil, sweet marjoram, lemon thyme, winter savory, 2 or 3 
bay-leaves, common thyme, a handful of parsley and green onions, and a 
large onion stuck with 6 cloves. Let the whole be thoroughly done. With 
respect to the members, probe them, to see whether they are done, and if 
so, drain and send them to the larder, as they are to make their 
appearance only when the soup is absolutely completed. When the flesh is 
also completely done, strain it through a silk sieve, and make a very 
thin white /roux;/ for turtle soup must not be much thickened. When the 
flour is sufficiently done on a slow fire, and has a good colour, 
moisten it with the liquor, keeping it over the fire till it boils. 
Ascertain that the sauce is neither too thick nor too thin; then draw 
the stewpan on the side of the stove, to skim off the white scum, and 
all the fat and oil that rise to the surface of the sauce. By this time 
all the softer parts will be sufficiently cold; when they must be cut to 
about the size of one or two inches square, and thrown into the soup, 
which must now be left to simmer gently. When done, skim off all the fat 
and froth. Take all the leaves of the herbs from the stock,—sweet basil, 
sweet marjoram, lemon thyme, winter savory, 2 or 3 bay-leaves, common 
thyme, a handful of parsley and green onions, and a large onion cut in 
four pieces, with a few blades of mace. Put these in a stewpan, with 
about 1/4 lb. of fresh butter, and let it simmer on a slow fire till 
quite melted, when pour in 1 bottle of good Madeira, adding a small bit 
of sugar, and let it boil gently for 1 hour. When done, rub it through a 
tammy, and add it to the soup. Let this boil, till no white scum rises; 
then take with a skimmer all the bits of turtle out of the sauce, and 
put them in a clean stewpan: when you have all out, pour the soup over 
the bits of turtle, through a tammy, and proceed as follows:—

I have omitted the recipe for /Quenelles à Tortue.

Linda Peterson wrote:
> I vaguely recall something about it in the movie Tampopo, concerning 
> the method of killing and preparing the turtle. It seemed to be 
> concerned with the tenderness of the meat mostly.
>     Mirhaxa, lover of trivia
>   mirhaxa at morktorn.com
> On Mon, 4 Aug 2008, S CLEMENGER wrote:
>> *Live* turtles? What, uhm, possible culinary edge does vivisection 
>> give to a
>> dish containing live turtles? I don't feel at all squeamish about the
>> shark's fin, although I'd probably avoid it because of mercury
>> contamination.....
>> --Maire's admittedly western mind is boggling at that one....

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