Archive for the ‘Wild Game’ Category
Parsley, fried (optional)
Bread crumbs, fried (optional)
When the pigeons are ready for roasting, if you are desired to stuff them, chop some green parsley very fine, and the liver, and a bit of butter together, with a little pepper and salt, and fill the belly of the bird with it. They will be done enough in about twenty or thirty minutes; send up parsley and butter in the dish under them, and some in a boat, and garnish with crisp parsley, or fried bread crumbs, or bread sauce.
Obs–When pigeons are fresh they have their full relish [flavor]; but it goes entirely off with a very little keeping; nor is it in any way so well preserved as by roasting them: when they are put into a pie they are generally baked to rags, and taste more of pepper and salt than of any other thing.
A little melted butter may be put into the dish with them, and the gravy that runs from them will mix with it into fine sauce. Pigeons are in the greatest perfection from mid-summer to Michaelmas [Sept. 29].
The Cook’s Oracle by William Kitchiner, MD, New York, 1829
Comment: The main ingredient called for here is the clean, carefully fed, properly raised and well tended domesticated pigeon, not some scruffy urban rat-with-wings. “Crisp Parsley,” which was inordinately favored as a garnish in this period, did not refer to a sturdy fresh sprig of the herb but to the same sprig dunked in boiling oil and fried. Why this was considered an improvement is unclear from this historical distance but we must admit to some relief that the custom appears to have died out.
2 guinea fowl, young
Stuffing of choice
Parsley or summer savory
Currant or other tart jelly
A pair of young Guinea fowls, stuffed and roasted, basting them with butter until they are half done, deserves an honorable place upon our bill of fare. Season the gravy with a chopped shallot, parsley or summer savory, not omitting the minced giblets, and thicken with browned flour. Send around currant, or other tart jelly, with the fowl. A little ham, minced fine, improves the dressing.
Common Sense in the Household by Marion Harland, New York, 1871
Comment: The guinea fowl was never a terribly common breed in America, and those who keep them nowadays do so in part for their large eggs and also for their extremely noisy response to the approach of a stranger (or in many cases a person they know perfectly well.) They provide the owner with the advantages of a guard dog without the fear that they will bite somebody and run up one’s insurance rates.
Writers of the period even comment on their rarity but also speak highly of their taste. Lettice Bryan compares them favorably to the turkey and Dr. Kitchiner says they can be substituted for pheasants if those birds have been promised for dinner and the cook runs short of supply.
1 rabbit, boiled
yolks of six eggs, hard boiled
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. pepper
1/4 c. vinegar
1/4 c. prepared mustard
4 tbs. oil, olive or vegetable
Bread and butter, crackers, grated cheese
Having a fine young rabbit boiled very tender, mince it fine from the bones. Mince an equal portion of lettuce, which should be of the loaf lettuce, that heads up, and is quite white and frangible [breakable]; mix them together, and set them by till the dressing is prepared. Mash very fine the yolks of six boiled eggs, add to it a tea-spoonful of salt, a tea-spoonful of pepper, half a gill of vinegar, half a gill of made mustard, and four table-spoonfuls of sweet oil. Mash and stir it together till it becomes very smooth; then put it over the rabbit and lettuce, stir it up lightly together with a fork, put it in a dish of suitable size, and send with it to table plates of bread and butter, crackers, grated cheese, &c. It is a supper dish, and seldom eaten at any other meal. Do not prepare it till just before you sit down to table, that it may be as fresh as possible. Rabbits make a very good pie, prepared like a chicken pie.
The Kentucky Housewife by Mrs. Lettice Bryan, 1839
Comment: A 17th century cookbook was recently reprinted under the modern-day title “First Catch Your Rabbit.” While Mrs. Bryan’s book was intended for a market-shopping urban audience rather than live-off-the-land backwoodsmen, rabbits were a common nuisance and a threat to gardens everywhere. This is a very elegant dish and could certainly be made with chicken or veal as an alternative if rabbits are uncommon in your apartment building, or the neighbors frown on backyard game hunting.
Cold cooked venison
1 small or button onion
3-4 whole cloves
1 tbs. currant jelly
1 tbs. catsup, either tomato or mushroom
1 tsp. anchovy sauce
Browned flour for thickening
The remains of cold roast venison–especially a stuffed shoulder–may be used for this dish, and will give great satisfaction to cook and consumers.
Slice the meat from the bones. Put these [bones] with the fat and other scraps in a saucepan, with a large teacupful of cold water, a small onion–one of the button kind, minced, parsley and thyme, pepper and salt, and three or four whole cloves. Stew for an hour. Strain and return to the saucepan, with whatever gravy was left from the roast, a tablespoonful currant jelly, one of tomato or mushroom catsup, a teaspoonful of anchovy sauce, and a little browned flour. Boil for three minutes; lay in the venison, cut into slices about an inch long, and let all heat over the fire for eight minutes, but do not allow the hash to boil. Stir frequently, and when it is smoking hot, turn into a deep covered dish.
Common Sense in the Household by Marion Harland, New York, 1871
Comment: It is interesting that a recipe calling for venison would pop up in a book from 1871, when cooking writers earlier in the century noted that the meat was beginning to vanish from city marketplaces as settlements expanded and “the frontier” was pushed farther and farther west. The advent of the railroad and refrigerated cars for shipment of produce and meat may have caused the change. On the other hand the recipe might simply have been cribbed from another, earlier book, a custom just as common in the cookbook-writing world then as now. The “catsup” called for here, even the tomato version, is not quite the same sauce as we know it today, but everything else is quite straightforward.
Steaks from neck or haunch of deer
If you wish a plainer dish omit the wine and jelly; pepper and salt the steaks when broiled, and lay butter upon them in the proportion I have stated ["a piece of butter the size of an egg for each pound of venison'], letting them stand between two hot dishes five minutes before they go to table, turning them three times in the gravy that runs from them to mingle with the melted butter. Delicious steaks corresponding in shape to mutton chops are cut from the loin and rack.
From Common Sense in the Household by Marion Harland, New York, 1871
Comment: As the context suggests, this recipe followed another one in Mrs. Harland’s book, which called for an elaborate sauce. The steak is to be broiled on a grill (known as a “gridiron” in the period) before an open fire, with a drip pan underneath to catch the juices and melted fat. Those who enjoy the taste of venison will most likely prefer this simpler version anyway, and those who do not will be happier if served steaks of beef.
Remove the entrails as soon as dead, and the skin just before cooking. Epicures keep them until the fibre begins to soften before dressing. The inside of the body must be kept dry, and it is well to dust it with pepper and salt. To skin them proceed in the following manner: Cut off the legs at the first joint, raise the skin on the back, draw it over the hind legs, and strip it from the tail, then slip it over the fore legs, and cut it away from the head and neck, leaving the ears on the head as perfect as possible. Wash them well, dry with a towel inside and out, and proceed to truss them. Cut the sinews of the hind legs, turn them towards the head, and fasten them to the sides of the hare or rabbit; then turn the fore legs to meet the hind legs, and fasten both with skewers. The head is crowded a little back, and fastened in place with skewers. The body is filled with dressing, the skin sewed up, and the whole bound firmly in shape with a string; the skewers and string must be removed after it is on the platter before sending the dish to the table.
The Housekeeper’s Encyclopedia by Mrs. E. F. Haskell, 1861
Comment: While it is somewhat unusual to find rabbit in your grocer’s meat case nowadays, in rural areas the animal is still hunted on a regular basis. (This is no doubt a good thing since without predators our nation’s gardens would be overrun entirely and we would have to subsist on grocery tomatoes, an awful fate.) Those contemplating taking up the practice are advised to consult with an experience hunter first, or at least to look up the symptoms and indications of tularemia before taking to the field.