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"Last Days of the Christmas Turkey" from Julia Child: A Dramatic Reading

When our colleagues in WGBH's Media Library and Archives discovered "Last Days of the Christmas Turkey," an excerpt from Julia Child's From the Pen of the French Chef that describes her misadventures with a 32-pound "monster" of a turkey during Christmastime, we just knew that we had to have some fun with it. Follow along with the video above, and then try your hand at Julia's recipe for Ou Sont Les Dindes D'Antan, A La Soubise—a turkey and onion casserole to make the most of your leftovers this year. Happy Holidays from WGBH Digital!

Ou Sont Les Dindes D'Antan, A La Soubise

The Onion Sauce (for about 2 1/2 cups). Melt 3 tablespoons butter in a heavy-bottomed 6-cup saucepan, stir in 1 cup finely minced onions, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon sage. Cover and cook slowly for 2 minutes. Add 1/3 cup water; simmer slowly, covered, 15 minutes.

Uncover, boil off any remaining liquid, and stir in 4 tablespoons flour. Add a little more butter if the flour does not form a paste easily; cook slowly, stirring, for 2 minutes.

Remove from heat. Beat in 1 cup hot turkey broth (or chicken broth), 1 cup hot milk, and 1/3 cup dry white vermouth. Stir over heat until sauce has thickened, then simmer slowly, stirring occasionally, for 15 minutes. (Add more broth or milk if sauce is so thick it risks scorching.) Stir in 1/4 cup cream, or enough to thin out sauce; it should coat a spoon fairly heavily. Season carefully with salt and pepper.

This amount of sauce should be enough for around 3 cups sliced or diced roast turkey meat, which should be lightly seasoned with salt and pepper. Spoon 1/8-inch layer of the sauce into a lightly buttered 6-cup baking dish, and spread half the turkey over it.

Have about 1/4 pound of slivered Swiss cheese and spread half of it over the turkey, then the rest of the cheese. End with the last of the turkey, the last of the sauce; disperse over the top 2 or 3 tablespoons of grated Swiss cheese and a tablespoon of butter cut into dots. Set aside until later.

About half an hour before serving, bake in the upper third of a preheated 375-degree oven until turkey is bubbling hot and cheese topping has browned nicely. Accompanied by beautifully buttered peas mounded in a circle of steaming egg noodles, this would call in a loud voice for a bottle of Bordeaux wine and some company.

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From Julia Child's From the Pen of the French Chef, provided by WGBH's Media Library and Archives. Learn more about the life and legacy of Julia Child here.

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