Holiday Traditions: How to Prepare the Best Thanksgiving Turkey

In the early 20th century, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) created the Bureau of Home Economics to educate homemakers on the best ways to sew, clean and prepare food. As part of the USDA initiative, expert cooks worked tirelessly testing various Thanksgiving turkey recipes to determine which made for the most flavorful turkey.

“Continual testing and experimenting with various recipes has taught Uncle Sam’s cooks that many a prize bird has become a ‘ham’ when improperly prepared. The best recipe – so far discovered by the Bureau of Economics – is demonstrated in the following set of pictures, made under the supervision of Miss Lucy Alexander, Chief Cooking Specialist. Miss Alexander, a graduate of Vassar and the University of Illinois, has been on her present job for eleven years. Mrs. Jessie Lamb, Assistant Cook, is stuffing the turkey under the watchful eye of Miss Lucy Alexander. The turkeys on the table will go into the ovens at regular intervals, and be tasted and judged by a group of experts who are determining which diet and feeding program will produce the best flavored meat.” Source: Library of Congress, 1937.

Cornell Bulletin for Homemakers: Part V, Number 546 – How to Cook Poultry, 1942.

Do you have a secret family recipe for Thanksgiving turkey that has been passed thru the generations?