TO CARVE gracefully is an accomplishment that depends wholly upon skill and not upon strength. The present fashion of dinners (see page 23) is perhaps removing the necessity, from some circles, for knowing how to carve, but still, not so generally as to do away with it altogether. We believe that ladies, as well as gentlemen, should make carving a study so that at the family dinner if the host be absent the hostess can perform the task without assistance from a guest, whose skill is perhaps not perfect, but whose good nature would not allow him to refuse.
Leg Of Mutton.
To carve with ease, one of the first requisites is a good knife well sharpened before coming to the table. It is a most uncomfortable and disagreeable sound to hear the carver whetting the knife while the guests are waiting to be served. The knife should be used for no other purpose than carving. It should never be found in the kitchen, cutting vegetables, meat and breads, its sole office being to carve the meats brought to table. Heat destroys its temper. A sharp, strong, blade, a good handle, and a keen edge are qualities belonging to a good carving knife.
Another point to be observed in carving, is to always cut at right angles with the fibers of the joint. When a joint is properly carved, it is more agreeable to the eye, pleasanter to the taste and much more easily masticated.
The person who is carving should be provided with a chair a little higher than the ordinary pattern, and should always sit, not stand, if a creditable appearance is desired. The platter which holds the meat should be large enough to admit of placing the slices as they are cut, on one side of the dish, from whence they can be distributed. A linen doily placed underneath the platter containing the meat, will catch any crumbs that would otherwise fall upon and soil the table-cloth.
In serving fish, avoid breaking the flakes. This can be done by the use of a fish trowel. The middle portion of the fish is considered the choicest, but the tail end is the sweetest.
When carving rib or sirloin of beef, cut the slices thin, and from the side next to you. Never offer any one the outside piece, unless they ask for it, but inquire how each guest prefers his - whether rare or well done. In cutting corned beef, begin at the top, but avoid giving out the outside slice, as it is generally hard.
The tenderloin roast is the choicest part of the beef. It is usually rolled up and held in place by skewers. The butcher generally puts it up for his customers in this fashion. Whatever scraps are taken off should be saved for the soup pot. To carve a tenderloin roast cut thin slices clear across the top, as indicated in the figure from A to B.
Next to the tenderloin roast the sirloin is considered the finest part of the beef. The bone, B to D in the figure, should be removed before roasting. The part below is the tenderloin part, while that portion above the bone is the sirloin part. Carve by passing the knife with a good firm hand clear down the length of the side beginning at A, cutting through to I. The slices should be thin, long and even.
The breast of veal consists of two parts, the gristly brisket proper and the rib bones. Separate the two parts by passing the knife through the veal from B to A. Now begin carving the ribs by passing the knife from E to F. Some people are fond of the brisket, so it is well to cut a few pieces, C to D.
In cutting a leg of mutton begin across the middle, cutting the slices way down to the bone, as shown by the letters A, B (see page 45). Some prefer to cut it at the end, from G to F, in form of a semi-circle, E E E. This part contains more fat. Ham should be divided in the same manner, remembering always that the slices should be thin, but well across. Boiled tongue should be cut crosswise, leaving the root in the dish.
A forequarter of lamb can be served by separating the shoulder part from the breast and ribs. This can be done by passing the knife under and dividing the ribs - see dotted lines C D E. Cut through the skin, then raise with a little force the shoulder into which the fork should be firmly set. Next divide the ribs from the brisket by cutting from A to B; then it will be easy to carve the ribs, F to G, and the brisket, from H to I.