Cape Cod Turkey

By Yankee Magazine

Dec 10 2015

salt cod sauce egg

Old-fashioned Yankee thrift in a bowl.

Photo Credit : Aimee Seavey

Have you ever heard the term Cape Cod Turkey? Believe it or not, there’s not any turkey in it at all. This old-time recipe is for salt cod served with potatoes, eggs, and cream sauce.

The origin of the name “Cape Cod turkey” is obscure. It has come to mean cooked fish;  more specifically, baked stuffed codfish well larded with salt pork. One explanation of the term centers about Thanksgiving. The traditional food for that day was, and still is, turkey. Turkey meant thankfulness to God for his bounty. However, without the fishing industry the colonists would have had very little to be thankful for. Then, too, the Irish in and around Boston used the term “Cape Cod turkey” to refer to their Friday meal of fish. Fish, and particularly salt fish, seemed to taste better if it bore the aristocratic name “Cape Cod turkey.”
—from  THE YANKEE COOKBOOK by Imogene Wolcott, 1939



For the "Turkey" (aka The Fish)


1 box salt cod fish (1 pound)
1/4 pound salt pork (or bacon)
8 medium potatoes, boiled and peeled
1 cup medium cream sauce
1 hard-cooked egg


Cover the cod with cold water, bring to a boil, drain. Repeat this process 2 or 3 times, then simmer the fish until tender, about 10 minutes. Meanwhile boil the potatoes, cube and try out the salt pork, and prepare the cream sauce and the hardcooked egg. When serving pour the cream sauce over the potatoes and the fish, add the sliced egg and sprinkle with the pork scraps.

For the Cream Sauce


2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup light cream
salt and white pepper to taste


Melt the butter over low heat and blend in the flour. Add the milk gradually and stir until thick and smooth. Add the cream and simmer for 5 minutes to cook the flour. Season with the salt and pepper.