Colonial Favorites

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Chef Walter Staib of Philadelphia's City Tavern restaurant, dropped by with the following colonial favorites:

• Martha Washington’s Turkey Stew with Fried Oysters

Serves 4 to 6

The Pennsylvania woods in the 18th century were full of turkeys weighing up to 45 pounds — a free source of protein for colonial hunters. Another free food source was the Delaware river which, at the time, was filled with oyster beds. This recipe, which combines these two great colonial food staples, is inspired by Martha Washington’s own "Booke of Cookery," written in 1753. Few people know that our nation’s premiere first lady was a very sophisticated and innovative chef, and was the first to pair fowl and meats with seafood — a common practice today, but a nearly scandalous culinary notion in colonial times.


3 pounds skinless boneless turkey thighs, cut into 2-inch cubes

4 medium shallots, chopped

4 garlic cloves, chopped

½ bunch fresh basil, chopped (about ¼ cup)

½ bunch fresh parsley, chopped (about 3 tablespoons)

1 sprig fresh thyme, chopped (about 1 tablespoon)

1 cup porter or other dark beer (or enough to cover the meat)

½ cup olive oil

1 leek (white part only), well rinsed and cut into 2-inch strips, for garnish

½ cup all-purpose flour

3 medium yellow onions, diced

4 celery ribs, diced

3 large carrots, diced

½ cup dry sherry

4 cups (1 quart) chicken stock

1 bay leaf

2 cups demi-glace

2 cups shredded red cabbage

2 medium zucchini, halved lengthwise and sliced

2 medium yellow squash, halved lengthwise and sliced

½ pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter

½ cup chopped tomato

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Chive & Red Pepper Spätzle, for serving

Cornmeal Fried Oysters, for serving


Marinate the turkey thighs: In a large mixing bowl, combine the turkey cubes, shallots, garlic, basil, thyme and the porter. Cover with plastic wrap and marinate in the refrigerator, stirring occasionally, at least 6 hours or overnight.

Prepare the garnish: Pour ¼ cup of the oil into a large saucepan. Heat the oil over high heat to 350°F. Add the leek and cook for 1 minute, until golden brown, being careful not to let the hot oil splatter. Using a slotted spoon, remove the leek from the oil and place on a paper towel to absorb any excess oil. Reserve.

Remove the turkey cubes from the marinade, discarding the marinade. Pat the turkey dry with paper towels and place in a medium mixing bowl.

Sprinkle the ½ cup flour over the turkey cubes and toss to coat thoroughly.

In a large skillet, cook the turkey in 2 tablespoons of the oil over high heat for 5 minutes, until brown.

Add the onions, celery and carrots and sauté for 5 to 8 minutes, until the vegetables are crisp-tender.

Add the sherry to deglaze the pan, loosening any browned bits on the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon. Reduce the heat to medium and cook, until the liquid is reduced by half, about 30 minutes. Add the chicken stock and bring to a boil over high heat.

Add the bay leaf. Reduce the heat and simmer, until the liquid is reduced by half. Add the demi-glace and bring to a boil over high heat. Remove from the heat.

In another large skillet, sauté the red cabbage, zucchini and yellow squash in the butter and remaining oil over medium heat for 5 minutes, until the vegetables are soft.

Add the tomato and sauté for 2 minutes more, until the tomato is soft.

Gently stir the vegetable mixture into the turkey mixture.

Serve the stew with the Chive & Red Pepper Spätzle and garnish with the Cornmeal Fried Oysters and the reserved fried leeks.

• Escallopes of Veal Françaises

Serves 4


8 (3 oz.) veal scaloppini, pounded to uniform thickness (available at any reputable butcher and most supermarkets)

Salt and white pepper to taste

4 tablespoons flour

2 eggs, beaten

3 tablespoons butter

1 tablespoon olive oil

8 ounces jumbo lump crabmeat

1 ounce white wine

4-6 ounces demi-glace or other brown sauce (you can get this in any gourmet store or order from More Than Gourmet)

8 ounces Sauce Béarnaise (if you don’t want to go through the trouble of making this from scratch, Knorr makes an excellent mix, available at most supermarkets.)


Sprinkle each escallope of veal on both sides with salt and white pepper, then dredge in the flour to coat both sides.

Heat 2 tablespoons of the butter and the oil together in a large non-stick sauté pan over high heat.

One by one, dredge the flour coated escallopes in the beaten egg, then place in the sauté pan. Lower the heat to medium.

Cook 1 to 1 ½ minutes per side, then remove, being careful not to scrape the egg coating off the escallopes.

Over medium heat, warm the crabmeat through together with the remaining 1 tablespoon butter and white wine.

On each plate, make a pool of 1 ounce of demi-glace and lay the escallopes on top. Place 1 ounce of crabmeat in the center of each escallope, then finish with 1 ounce of Sauce Béarnaise.

• Crab & Corn Chowder

Serves 8 to 10


1 cup chopped carrots

1 cup chopped celery

1 cup chopped onion

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

4 cups Vegetable Stock

1 tablespoon chopped shallots

1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil

1 teaspoon sweet paprika

3 chopped garlic cloves

3 large russet potatoes (about 1 pound), peeled and diced

10 ears fresh white corn, kernels cut from cobs

2 cups heavy cream

¼ cup cornstarch

¼ cup dry white wine

24-30 ounces pasteurized lump crabmeat

Chives or green onions, chopped for garnish


In a medium stockpot, sauté the carrots, celery and onion in the butter over medium heat for 5 minutes, until the onions are translucent.

Add the Vegetable Stock, shallots, basil, thyme, paprika, and garlic. Bring to a boil.

Stir in potatoes and corn kernels; bring back to a boil.

Stir in the cream. Reduce the heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 10 to 15 minutes, until vegetables are tender and soup is heated.

In a small bowl, combine the cornstarch and wine, mix until velvety smooth. Add some of the boiling soup to the cornstarch mixture until thin. Gently stir mixture into the soup. Cook until bubbly.

Crumble 2-3 ounces of crabmeat into each serving. Serve hot.

Recipes from the "City Tavern Cookbook" by Walter Staib