Thanksgiving Dinner Menu - Two Menus from 1905

Thanksgiving Dinner Menu


In November, most Americans celebrate a traditional Thanksgiving with bountiful dinner parties for friends and family. Given the best of food markets, the best of cooks, and the most assuredly perfect dinner service, still the meal weighs heavily on the mind because of the difficulty preparing anything new.

It is almost impossible to vary the dinner from year to year and still retain the traditions; but the best way out of the trouble is to ignore it; to keep well to the old dishes, the national staples of the occasion, and introduce variety only in minor ways, in the little touches here and there which go far toward making old things seem new. This year, consider recreating an elaborate and memorable feast from the past by choosing one of two 1905 menus from Harper's Bazaar.

Instead of the usual pumpkin filled with fruits, or any other similar decoration for the table, here is a novelty from the past to consider at the very beginning.  After the table is laid with one's handsomest linen and silver, put four or six red candles with red shades about the center, and between them lay a large silver tray; if it has no feet to raise it, put four low supports below, concealing them with vines all about the edge. Get a quantity of the fruit-shaped bonbon-boxes and fill each with nuts and raisins; arrange these with heavy leaves on the tray, and serve them as a final course.  If you have place-cards, paint them with little pumpkins or other vegetables, or have them cut in vegetable shapes and then painted.

Another pretty Thanksgiving table decoration for those who live where autumn leaves are to be had is made with dark crimson Virginia creeper, arranged in a silver bowl, with dull crimson candles and shades.  Still another is bitter­sweet, the vines trailing over the tablecloth.



Menu with Turkey [1905]


Oysters on the half-shell with cocktail in pepper shells.

Radishes, celery, salted nuts.

Clear consommé with tapioca.

Filet of flounder with pimentos and olives;
dressed cucumbers.

Roast turkey; cranberry jelly in small molds;
creamed chestnuts; glazed sweet-potato.

Cider frappé in turkey sherbet-cups.

Quail in bread croustades; dressed lettuce.

Blazing mince pie.

Cheese with almonds; wafers.

Angel parfait in glasses; small cakes; coffee.



Arrange five oysters on a deep plate of scraped ice, with lemon quarters. In the center put half a small red pepper shell, filled with the usual cocktail mixture. Pass horse­radish and cayenne for those who prefer this.


For the soup make a clear strong stock the day before you need it, clearing it well; soak a tablespoonful of pearl tapioca and simmer this in it half-an-hour; it will nearly dissolve, but not quite, and will prove an excellent addition.


The fish course must be a light one, because the roast is heavy, so get some filets of flounder or any white fish and dip each one into seasoned flour and fry lightly; get also a jar of pimentos and cut these into strips. When the fish is done take it up and drop the pimentos into the pan with two dozen stoned olives, a tablespoonful of butter, a little lemon juice, cayenne, and salt. Turn the pimentos and olives in this for two minutes and take them up. Put a strip of pimento on each filet with an olive at either end; chop the rest and lay around the edge of the platter.


The turkey may be stuffed with oysters as usual; the cranberry jelly is to be strained into small molds and passed on a flat glass dish.


The potatoes are to be boiled, split, salted, dipped into melted butter, rolled in brown sugar, and browned in the oven.


The chestnuts must be boiled, peeled, and rolled in seasoned white sauce, barely enough to cover them. They are delicious with turkey.


Next comes a most attractive course, cider frappe in turkey cups, in honor of the day. Get some fresh cider, sweeten to taste, and add the juice of half a lemon; simmer fifteen minutes and cool, then freeze. The little paper cups for serving are concealed in chopping-blocks which look as though made of real wood; each decorated with a dejected turkey contemplating a cleaver. The course will look well after all the little turkeys are around the table on their individual plates.


After this have a pretty new course — halved quail in bread croustades. Take large slices of bread three inches thick, cut off all the crust, and fry brown. Broil the quails—or use squab if you cannot get them—and cut in halves, pressing one into each croustade; sprinkle with salt and cayenne, and send to the table with parsley by each.


The mince pie, which by no means may be omitted, may be slightly heated and then sent blazing to the table by pouring a little brandy over and lighting it. This is better than putting liquor into the pies.


Here is a new way of preparing an after-dinner cheese that will be found worth trying. Put two-thirds of a cup of salted almonds twice through the meat-chopper, and mix with a cup of grated American cheese. Add a very little salt, a pinch of cayenne, and a dessert-spoonful of brandy; mix well. Press into a small mold until needed; turn out, and pass salted wafers with it.


A cold sweet to follow may be this very easy one: Boil a cup of sugar with a cup of water till it threads, then beat it slowly into the stiff whites of three eggs, and when cold fold this into a pint of whipped cream. Flavor, put into a small pail or mould, freeze five hours, and serve in small glasses. A few macaroons, crumbed into powder, may be put in if you choose. Serve with coffee.



Menu with Roast Duck [1905]


Celery, radishes, salted nuts.

Clear consommé.

Cutlets of salmon, fried, with potato balls;
dressed cucumbers.

Sweetbread croquettes, with asparagus tips.

Roast ducks with prune stuffing.

Turnip cups filled with peas

Glazed sweet-potatoes.

Cumquat and lettuce salad with French dressing.

Blazing mince pies.

Harlequin ices; small cakes.

Brie cheese and toasted wafers; coffee.



Grapefruit for a first course, or a mixture of fruits, served in tall glasses.


The soup is a clear consommé, and it may have tiny hearts or stars cut from cooked carrots by way of a garnish, or the tapioca may be used as before.


For the fish course, get small salmon cutlets, fry them, sprinkle with salt, lemon juice, and melted butter into which chopped parsley has been mixed. Pile on a long platter, each slice overlapping the next, and put a small heap of potato balls at either end; pass dressed cucumbers also.


If the dinner is a small one, the entree may be omitted, but it is one that is always liked. Cook sweetbreads till tender, blanch them by dropping into ice water while very hot, and cut into small bits. Mix with half a cup of rich cream sauce to two cups of the minced sweetbread, and let the mixture stand spread on a board for two hours. Then mold into croquette forms, bread them, dip into beaten yolk of egg and into fine crumbs again, and again let them stand at least an hour (this is the only way to prevent the grease from entering the croquette). Fry two at a time in deep fat in a wire basket, and drain in the oven on paper. Take canned asparagus, cut the tender parts into half-inch pieces and drain; heat in cream sauce, season well, and serve a spoonful by each croquette.


For a vegetable, boil a fine large cauliflower and remove the stem and core; turn it out on a platter, pour a well-seasoned white sauce over it, and then a cup of grated cheese, and brown in the oven.


The ducks are to be filled with this delicious stuffing: Pare, core, and slice very thin five good-sized apples, sprinkling each piece with cracker dust as you do so, to keep them white. Pour boiling water over a pound of French prunes, and when they are swollen remove their stones. Seed a half-cup of raisins and mix with the prunes, and a half-cup of cracker crumbs mixed with a teaspoonful of sugar. Last, add a salt-spoonful of salt and a beaten egg. This mixture will fill four good-sized ducks, but it must not be too closely packed in, as it will swell.


As turnips are considered essential with roast duck, prepare them by boiling till tender and then, after scraping, scoop out the center from each and cut a slice from the bottom to make them stand. Put into each a little butter, pepper, and salt, and then fill with French peas which have also been well seasoned. Keep hot in the oven till time to serve, and then surround the ducks with them. The little white cups filled with green look very pretty with a quantity of parsley placed around the brown ducks.


The potatoes are to be boiled, split, salted, dipped into melted butter, rolled in brown sugar, and browned in the oven.


After this comes an odd new salad.  Get a dozen cumquats — tiny oranges — and slice thin; arrange on lettuce hearts and pour French dressing over all.


The mince pie, which by no means may be omitted, may be slightly heated and then sent blazing to the table by pouring a little brandy over and lighting it. This is better than putting liquor into the pies.


Make a freezer-full of lemon ice; in two small pails put two-thirds of the ice, leaving one-third in the freezer.  Into one put a little peppermint flavoring and a very little green coloring, and into the other rose flavoring with rose coloring. Leave the lemon ice as it is.  In serving, have tall glasses which flare well at the top, and lay three rounded spoonfuls, one of each color, in each glass, side by side, not one on top of the other. Small cakes may be passed with this course.



Toasted wafers and Brie cheese.