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.