Archive for the ‘Wild Game’ Category
1 old duck
Minced ham or salt pork
1 large onion, chopped
1 tbs. catsup (type not specified)
1 tsp. brown sugar
1 tbs. browned flour
This is a good way to treat an old and tough fowl.
Clean and divide, as you would a chicken for fricassee. Put into a saucepan, with several (minced) slices of cold ham or salt pork which is not too fat, and stew slowly for at least an hour–keeping the lid on all the while. Then stir in a large chopped onion, a half-spoonful of powdered sage, or a whole spoonful of the green leaves cut fine, half as much parsley, a tablespoonful catsup, and black pepper. Stew another half-hour, or until the duck is tender, and add a teaspoonful brown sugar, and a tablespoonful of browned flour, previously wet with cold water. Boil up once, and serve in a deep covered dish, with green peas as an accompaniment.
Common Sense in the Household by Marion Harland, New York, 1871
Comment: While an “old duck” is called for here, these are still domestic fowl, not wild ducks, under discussion here. Keeping a backyard flock of chickens, ducks or geese was almost universal in the country, and very common even in cities until recent times. Not only did these provide people of lesser means a ready supply of eggs and meat for their own tables, by ancient tradition the proceeds gained from the sale in the market of any surplus was the rightful property of the woman of the house. “Butter and egg money” was often the only funds a woman had access to without having to go beg from her husband. Fowl intended for the table was normally killed while young and tender, but birds kept for egg-laying might last several years before winding up in the stewpot.
4 lb. alligator meat, preferably legs, not tail
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 c. flour
1 green pepper, chopped & cored
1 c. oil or fat
8-10 mushrooms, picked by somebody who knows how. You get poisoned,
don’t come cryin’ to us.
4 tbs. butter
1 c. water
2 onions, chopped
1/2 tsp. sugar
1 tomato, chopped and mashed to a paste
3 green onions, chopped with some green
Cayenne (red) pepper
Chop up meat to size of dice. Put to soak in water with hot pepper and lemon juice. Mix flour and oil in hot kettle until flour is browned. Brown onions, then add mashed tomato and sugar and cook a few minutes, then add peppers celery, garlic, and mushrooms and stir up, then add water. Cook 1 hour at low heat, just bubbling. Add green onions and alligator, salt and red pepper to suit. Cook 30 minutes or until meat is tender. If alligator is old, this may take longer or never happen at all.
Comment: While it is normally a strict rule that all recipes here come from sources of the Civil War period, the sad fact is that all the books of the time were written for not just civilian use but middle-to-upper class civilians at that, since that was the group of sufficient literacy to benefit from books and sufficient income to be able to purchase them.
Food of the poorer classes, indigenous folk, backwoods and swamp dwellers, and similar, often more interesting, groups are not mentioned in such works. So every once in awhile when we get submissions from readers, said to be “old family recipes.” If they don’t call for anything that wouldn’t have been available in 19th century America, and most particularly if they are recipes that trace back several generations in a family, we say, eh, why not? All we can suggest is to use mushrooms from the supermarket if you’re not an expert in fungi identification, and to note that finding a source of supply of alligator meat (leg, not tail) is similarly up to you.
We got this one several years ago and the name of the sender has fallen off and disappeared in one of the numerous moves the Recipe section has made over time. If said sender would like to get in touch with us we will be happy to restore the credit that is due.
1 tsp. butter
Plain bread crumbs
Fried bread crumbs or slices (optional)
To be worth the trouble of picking [plucking], must be well grown, and well fed.
Clean them well, and pepper and salt them; broil them over a clear, slow fire; turn them often, and put a little butter on them.
Garnish with fried bread-crumbs, or sippets; or, when the pigeons are trussed as for boiling, flat them with a cleaver, taking care not to break the skin of the backs or breasts. Season them with pepper and salt, a little bit of butter, and a tea-spoonful of water, and tie them close at both ends; so that when they are brought to table, they bring their sauce with them. Egg and dredge them well with grated bread (mixed with spice and sweet herbs, if you please); then lay them on the gridiron, and turn them frequently; if your fire is not very clear, lay them on a sheet of paper well buttered, to keep them from getting smoked. They are much better broiled whole.
From The Cook’s Oracle by William Kitchiner, MD, New York, 1829
Comment: Here we see signs that not just cooking but papermaking was a very different thing in the 1800s. To replicate this recipe today would probably involve the use of a charcoal or gas grill, and it would be most unwise to use an average sheet of paper as a cooking surface on one of those devices.
Paper in those days was thick and sturdy indeed, made from rags and other scraps of cloth rather than wood pulp as is almost universal nowadays. Cooking was done in front of an open fire in a hearth or fireplace, so the heat radiated more from the side than from directly underneath. A “clear fire” was the ideal, but the smokiness was largely a factor of the type of wood being used and so could not always be controlled.
Then as now, pigeons used for food were normally raised commercially and not considered wild game except on the farthest reaches of the frontier. Cornish hens might be a more practicable substitute nowadays.
1 or more rabbits, whole; liver reserved but head removed before serving
Truss your rabbits short, lay them in a basin or warm water for ten minutes, then put them into plenty of water, and boil them about half an hour; if large ones, three quarters; if very old, an hour. Mince the liver and lay it round the dish, or make liver sauce and send it up in a boat.
N.B. It will save much trouble to the carver, if the rabbits be cut up in the kitchen into pieces fit to help at table, and the head divided, one half land at each end, and slices of lemon and the liver, chopped very finely, laid on the sides of the dish.
At all events, cut off the head before you send it to table, we hardly remember that the thing ever lived if we don’t see the head, while it may excite ugly ideas to see it cut up in an attitude imitative of life; besides, for the preservation of the head, the poor animal sometimes suffers a slower death.
From The Cook’s Oracle by William Kitchiner, MD, New York, 1829
Comment: This really tells us more (and more than we want to know) about rabbit-raising and -butchering customs of the early 19th century than it does about the cooking procedures for same. To “truss your rabbits short” meant to tie them with legs together or in a folded position, making it easier for them to fit into a pot on the stove. If being trussed for roasting or broiling the legs would be extended so as to go on a spit before the fire.