Recipes From the Earliest Thanksgiving

Yeah, it’s pretty late to be figuring out what you’re bringing to Thanksgiving dinner. (SHAME!)

But if you want the REAL Thanksgiving experience, check out these recipes from the Pilgrims and the Wampanoag tribe, via the living museum at Plimoth Plantation.

The kind folks at Plimoth note that the Wampanoags considered skunk a delicacy, but sadly do not provide the recipe. Much of the food we think of today as part of the “traditional” Thanksgiving dinner — cranberry sauce, pumpkin pie, and mashed potatoes — weren’t even part of the Pilgrims’ diet, National Geographic notes, though turkey might have been among the offerings at the 1621 feast.

Anyway, we’ll give one Wamponoag recipe and one from the Pilgrims here. Visit Plimoth Plantation‘s website for more.

Wampanoag recipe: Boiled Bread

Boiled bread is a small patty made mostly of cornmeal with crushed nuts and berries added in. It is dropped in a pot of boiling water and when done, rises to the top.

1 quart slightly boiled water
1/2 cup cornmeal
1/2 cup corn flour
1/2 cup dried cranberries, blueberries, and/or currants
1/2 cup crushed nuts or seeds (walnuts, hazelnuts or sunflower seeds)
Maple syrup or sugar to taste (optional)

Combine all ingredients in large bowl and mix thoroughly. After mixing, slowly add a spoonful at a time of slightly boiled water. When the mix is thick enough to be sticky, shape round patties (about 3 inches in diameter and 1/2 inch thick). Return water to slight rolling boil and drop in 1 or 2 patties, carefully making sure they do not stick to the bottom. Remove breads when they begin to float.

Pilgrim recipe: Curd Fritters

Curds are a soft cheese like cottage cheese or ricotta. These fritters are a lot like thin pancakes or crepes. This recipe is from the 1594 cookbook The Good Huswifes Handmaide for the Kitchin, pp. 47-48.

Take the yolks of ten Egs, and breake them in a pan, and put to them one handful Curdes and one handful of fine flower, and sttraine them all together, and make a batter, and if it be not thicke ynough, put more Curdes in it, and salt to it. Then set it on the fyre in a frying pan, with such stuffe as ye will frie them with, and when it is hot, with a ladle take part of your batter, and put of it into the panne, and let it run as smal as you can, and stir then with a sticke, and turne them with a scummer, and when they be fair and yellow fryed, take them out, and cast Sugar upon them, and serve them foorth.

Modern Version
5 eggs
curds (ricotta, cottage or other soft cheese)
wheat or corn flour
cooking oil or butter

Make a thin batter with the eggs and equal amounts of curds and flour. Season with salt. Heat a small amount of cooking oil in your frying pan. When the oil is hot, pour in the batter and tip the pan to make the batter spread very thin (that’s what “let it run as small as you can” in the recipe means). They should be like crepes. When brown on one side, use your knife to flip them over or slide them onto a plate and flip them over into the pan. Add more oil to the pan when needed. Serve with sugar sprinkled on the top if you wish.

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photo credit: Sarah Ackerman, Creative Commons/flickr