Strip off the feathers, and carefully pick every stump or plug from the skin, as nothing can be more uninviting than the appearance of any kind of poultry where this has been neglected, nor more indicative of slovenliness on the part of the cook. Take off the head and neck close to the body, but leave sufficient of the skin to tie over the part that is cut. In drawing the bird, do not open it more than is needful, and use great precaution to avoid breaking the gall-bladder. Hold the legs in boiling water for two or three minutes, that the skin may be peeled from them easily; cut off the claws, and then, with a bit of lighted writing-paper, singe off the hairs without blackening the fowl. Wash, and wipe it afterwards very dry, and let the liver and gizzard be made delicately clean, and fastened into the pinions. Truss, and spit it firmly; flour it well when first laid to the fire, baste it frequently with butter, and when it is done, draw out the skewers, dish it, pour a little good gravy over, and send it to table with bread, mushroom, egg, chestnut, or olive sauce.
A common mode of serving roast fowls in France is aux cressons, that is, laid upon young water-cresses, which have previously been freed from the outer leaves, thoroughly washed, shaken dry in a clean cloth, and sprinkled with a little fine salt, and a small quantity of vinegar: these should cover the dish, and after the fowls are placed on them, gravy should be poured over as usual.
The body of a fowl may be filled with very small mushrooms prepared as for partridges (see partridges with mushrooms), then sewn up, roasted, and served with mushroom-sauce: this is an excellent mode of dressing it. A slice of fresh butter mixed with some salt and cayenne or pepper; a little rasped bacon; or a bit or two of the lean of beef or veal minced, or cut into dice, may be put inside the bird when either is considered an improvement. An ounce or two of fresh butter smoothly mixed with a teaspoonful of really good mushroom-powder, a little pounded mace, salt, and cayenne, will impart much more of flavour to the fowl.
Fowl for Roasting.
Full-sized fowl, 1 hour: young chicken, 25 to 35 minutes.
As we have already observed in our general remarks on roasting, the time must be regulated by various circumstances, which we named, and which the cook should always take into consideration. A buttered paper should be fastened over the breast, and removed about fifteen minutes before the fowl is served: this will prevent its taking too much colour.
Fill the breast of a fine fowl with good forcemeat, roast it as usual, and when it is very nearly ready to serve take it from the fire, pour lukewarm butter over it in every part, and strew it thickly with very fine bread-crumbs; sprinkle these again with butter, and dip the fowl into more crumbs. Put it down to the fire, and when it is of a clear, light brown all over, take it carefully from the spit, dish, and serve it with lemon-sauce, and with gravy thickened and mixed with plenty of minced parsley, or with brown gravy and any other sauce usually served with fowls. Savoury herbs shred small, spice, and lemon-grate, may be mixed with the crumbs at pleasure. Do not pour gravy over the fowl when it is thus prepared.
Let the bird hang tor as many days as the weather will allow; then stuff, truss, roast, and serve it like a turkey, or leave the head on and lard the breast. Send gravy and bread-sauce to table with it in either case: it will be found excellent eating.
3/4 to 1 hour.