Poultry And Game
( Originally Published 1904 )
The domestic fowls which we designate as poultry include chickens and tame turkeys, ducks, geese, and pigeons. Wild turkeys, ducks, and geese, quail, partridges, and grouse, together with venison and other wild flesh, we call game.
Chicken is always in season. Spring chick-ens used to come only after the first of May, but can now be had earlier,--thanks to the modern incubator.
Capons are seasonable through the winter and early spring.
Turkeys through the autumn and early spring.
Ducks and geese from the first of- December to the first of April. Green geese and ducklings from the first of June until September.
Game is in season during the autumn and winter months, from about the first day of November (the exact date being regulated to some extent by the local game laws) until February. Cold storage game is, of course, obtainable at other times of the year.
Venison is best from September first to January; wild duck, geese, and partridges, from the same date until April.
The most delicate meat of poultry comes from chickens, pigeons, and the guinea-fowl.
The guinea-fowl may be bought at all seasons, but is best from the first of June to October. Owing to the short muscle-fibres the breast-meat of poultry is more tender, though less highly flavored, than the dark meat of the leg.
Chicken of five months or less is called spring chicken. When over a year old it is called fowl; naturally the flavor of the fullgrown 'chicken is finer than that of the very young. For roasting, a -young cock is considered the best.
Of turkey, the hen is preferred, though frequently quite young gobblers are roasted.
Ducks and geese should not be over a year old.
The proper course with barnyard fowls is to keep them, for six days at least before they are killed, in a spacious, -clean coop, feeding, them corn for at least five days, and then soft-boiled rice or skimmed milk for the last day. For' the last night they should have no food, but plenty of water. The result will be light, delicately flavored flesh, clean intestines, and an empty " crop."
KILLING A FOWL
Open the mouth of the fowl and cut it on the inside of the neck, severing the jugular vein with a sharp knife.
It is important to hang up poultry at once by the feet so that the blood runs out freely, making the meat whiter and more wholesome. Before it becomes cold, poultry should be care-fully picked, without breaking the skin anywhere.-
Scalding chickens is a lazy way of getting rid of the feathers, is a very bad practice, and renders the meat more likely to " spoil."
Poultry should not be eaten until at least six or eight hours after killing, but should be picked and drawn promptly.
SELECTING A "FOWL
Poultry should be full-grown, but not old. A chicken should be plump, but not so fat as to be heavy. The flesh ought to be firm, the end of the breastbone and the wing limber.
The capon—" spayed " hen or castrated cock-=combines the flavor of fullgrown fowl with the delicacy and tenderness of a young " broiler." The meat is expensive and most delicious.
The chicken or turkey, being already picked, is held over a little flame, taking care not to let the soot collect on its skin. Turn it, unfold its wings, etc., until the long, hairy feathers are thoroughly singed off. Then put it at once into a pan of .cold water, wash, rinse, and wipe it. Now chop off the head, leaving as much as possible of the neck. Next, run your knife along the side of the legs, cutting the skin; bend the legs so as to expose the sinews on top, holding the upper part of the leg; loosen the ligaments,. and pull them out with a strong fork or skewer. This is the' process of removing the feet. Then the joint muscle should be cut so as to expose the under ligaments, which are next drawn out. Finally, cut the muscle at the back. There are seven sinews in all to be drawn out.
Turn the fowl over so 'as to be able to cut to the bone along the back of its neck. Pulling the skin back carefully, so as not to break it or the crop, the crop can be removed by cutting the part that holds it to the intestines of the neck after it has been loosened.
The next thing is to remove the intestines: to do this, turn the fowl again on its back and loosen the intestines at the back with your fingers, making. first a cut at the end of the breastbone. Loosen the lungs and heart at the cut made by the crop. Now remove, with care to keep them entire, the intestines and gizzard, taking them together through the opening at the breastbone. Take your knife again, and cut around the large intestine. Finally cut the oil-sack from the rump, and remove any blood-stains from the inside with a damp cloth.
Stuffing, if desired, should be put in, and. the vents sewn up before trussing.
The trussing is a very simple process, requiring only three-stitches in all to secure the fowl from being " cooked out of shape." First, make an incision in the neck, close to the breast-bone, so that the skin can be turned back; press the wings back over this skin, and secure them into shape with the first stitch. Holding the legs down close to the side, take the second stitch right through the fowl, bringing the needle back over the leg joints and tying on one side.
Next, after Working the skin skilfully over the end of the leg-bones, take the third stitch, fastening the legs to the rump by sewing them against the side of the breastbone.
The method of cleaning described above. is applicable to every variety of poultry. With ducks and geese, the gullet may be removed at, the lower vent after being loosened at the neck.
The gizzard, the liver, and the heart are called giblets. The blue skin must be stripped off in order to open the gizzard, then the fleshy part is removed on one side at a time. This is the only proper way to do, as there will be a very disagreeable taste if the gizzard is merely tuned inside-out after being cut in two.
The choice hen turkey—always a young one, of course—should have a broad, plump breast, black legs, and white skin. The neck should be short.
Turkeys and capons are singed, drawn, and trussed after the manner prescribed for chickens.
Tame ducks should be penned as recommended for chickens, for at least ten days before being killed. In order to give them the best flavor, they should be fed for a week or so on finely chopped celery or other spiced food.
In selecting a duck, see that it has a plump breast, without being over-fat. If the duck is young, the lower leg will be smooth, and the webbing of the feet soft. A good test is to see if the under bill is soft; this should break readily when bent.
Singe and clean as described above. Only two stitches are needed in trussing; one to confine the legs close to the side, the other to fasten back the wings.
Of wild ducks, the canvas-back is the favorite. The head feathers are smooth and short. The male has chestnut-colored head and neck, grayish sides and back, with black wings and tail, white underneath. In the female the tints are duller, with fainter markings. The head is short, with red iris, and very long, dark-greenish bill.
Canvas-backs. and red-heads are always sold with the feathers on.
A goose should not be over three years old. When young, the bill and webbing of the feet are as described in the case of young ducks; the legs are yellow and have soft down on them.
Geese require to be cooked slowly, as they have much fat directly beneath the skin.
PIGEONS AND SQUAB
Young pigeons have very plump breasts. As they fly more than most of our domestic fowl, the breast grows small, and the muscles hard with age.
A full-grown pigeon, being rather tough, is best served " potted "; the moist, slow method of cooking softening the meat.
Squab is young pigeon, and is a real delicacy The intestines are removed after splitting down the back, and the breastbone is broken with a strong knife or heavy utensil. They should be baked for an hour in a very hot oven, or broiled as spring chicken, and served on toast after the manner of quail. Admirable for a convalescent.
The excellence of guinea-fowl, when properly cooked, is something that should be more generally recognized.
Their eggs are also far better than hen's eggs. .
The flesh of the guinea-hen is all dark, and indeed in other respects these birds seem more like wild than domestic fowl.
All of the wild creatures included under the head " game, having red meat, should be hung for a week or ten days in a dry, cold place before being cooked.
It is better to " draw " fowls first, but the feathers may be left on while hanging, if preferred.
The meat of all varieties of game is easily digested by invahds; since these animals store the fat outside of the lean meat, and acquire fat much less rapidly than do the domestic va=rieties.
The important point to remember about venison is that it must be served and eaten immediately after cooking. If allowed to stand at all, the meat immediately becomes difficult to eat. Cooked in the chafing-dish, and eaten at once, it is very fine.
Venison can be left in a cold place better than domestic meat, as it comes healthy and tender from the deer.
Venison is sometimes cured after the manner of curing mutton hams.
BELGIAN HARE AND SQUIRREL
Belgian hare is becoming more popular, especially in the West, and is often eaten as boned tukey," from tins. As its fur is valuable, this is always removed before the animal appears for sale in market. No animal is cleaner, and for the sake Of the fur it is well nourished, which improves the flavor of its flesh as well.
The meat is tender, white, and firm, and the broth made from it is said to be better for invalids than almost any other. The meat is used in as many ways as is chicken, even to salad.
The meat of ordinary rabbits and of squirrels may also be cooked in the same variety of ways, remembering, however, that rabbit flesh must be cooked slowly and long, on account of its density, in order to render it digestible.