The greatest possible care should be taken, in picking of these birds, to handle them as little as possible, on account of the skin being so particularly tender, that when broken it spoils the beauty of the bird. When picked, cut off the pinions at the first joint, press the legs close to the side, through which, and the body, pierce the beak of the bird; then cross the feet, and lay a slice of bacon over the breast. Woodcocks and snipes may be dressed according to the same rules.
Take a pound of lean beef, cut it into pieces, and put it into a saucepan, with two quarts of water, an onion stuck with cloves, two blades of mace, and some whole pepper, boil all these together till reduced to half; then strain it off into another saucepan: draw the woodcocks, and lay the trail in a plate; put the woodcocks into the gravy, and let them boil in it for twelve minutes; while they are boiling, mince the trail and liver very small; put them into a small saucepan, with a little mace; add four or five spoonfuls of the gravy the woodcocks are boiled in; then take the crumb of a stale roll, rub it fine into a dish placed before the fire, and put to the trail, in the small saucepan, half a pint of red port, a bit of butter, rolled in flour, set it on the fire, and shake it round till the butter is melted; then put in the breadcrumbs, and shake the saucepan round; lay the woodcocks in the dish, pour the sauce over them, and serve.
Woodcocks should not be drawn, as the trail is by the lovers of "haut gout" considered a "bonne bouchej" truss their legs close to the body, and run an iron skewer through each thigh, close to the body, and tie them on a small bird spit; put them to roast at a clear fire; cut as many slices of bread as you have birds, toast or fry them a delicate brown, and lay them in the dripping-pan under the birds to catch the trail; baste them with butter, and froth them with flour; lay the toast on a hot dish, and the birds on the toast; pour some good beef gravy into the dish, and send some up in a boat, twenty or thirty minutes will roast them. Garnish with slices of lemon. Some epicures like this bird very much under-done, and direct that a woodcock should be just introduced to the cook, for her to show it the fire, and then send it up to table.
Put a brace of woodcocks into a fryingpan, with some butter, shred shallots, grated nutmeg, salt, and pepper; set the pan on a fierce fire, and fry the woodcocks lightly for seven or eight minutes; then add the juice of two lemons, half a glass of white wine, and some raspings; and leave them on the fire till the sauce has boiled up once; then serve altogether.
Cut up the woodcock on the table, and put the pieces on. a dish, which place on a stand, with a lamp under it; add pepper, salt, shred shallots, nearly a glass of white wine, the juice of three lemons, and a bit of butter; strew raspings over, and boil slowly for ten minutes, stirring occasionally. Use spirits of wine for your lamp.
Pound the bones and livers of roasted woodcocks, and put them into a stewpan, with two spoonfuls of cullis, and two spoonfuls of red port; reduce it to the consistence of a sauce, and then strain it; when strained, add pepper, salt, and the juice of two oranges.