The lower one descends in the social scale the less appreciation is there of game of any variety. What the plebeian terms "wild things" play a small part upon his menu - indeed, are probably altogether absent from it. He turns with a shrug from jugged hare, broiled quail and roast partridge to feast upon what is known in his set as "plain roast and boiled." It is the epicure and the man of refined and cultivated gastronomic tastes who can appreciate good game.
Just here it may be well to remark that game need not of necessity be "high." Some persons profess to prefer it when it has been kept so long as to be a little offensive to the olfactory organs. Whether or not this be affectation is not for us to judge. Suffice it to say that the following recipes are for the preparation of well-seasoned game, and not for viands that bear a distressing resemblance to carrion.
Rub the meat thoroughly with melted butter, and wrap it in buttered paper. Put into a covered roaster with a little water in the bottom of the pan. Allow at least twenty minutes' roasting to every pound of meat. Half an hour before the meat is done remove the cover and the paper, and cook, basting every ten minutes with butter and a little melted currant jelly. At the end of the half-hour transfer the venison to a hot platter; strain the drippings left in the pan, add to them a cupful of boiling water, a dash of nutmeg, salt, pepper, two tablespoonfuls of butter and the same quantity of currant jelly. When the butter and the jelly are melted, pour the sauce into a gravy-boat and send to the table with the venison.
The loin, the haunch and the leg of venison may be cooked in like manner, and may be served with propriety even at a "company dinner," although the saddle, like Abou Ben Adhem's name, "leads all the rest."
It requires about three minutes more time to broil than beefsteak, even when tender. If doubtful, lay in olive oil and lemon juice for two hours before cooking. Drain without wiping, and broil over clear hot coals, turning often to avoid scorching.
Take up, lay upon a very hot dish, sprinkle with salt and paprika and spread on both sides a mixture of butter stirred up with currant jelly. Cover and leave over hot water five minutes before it goes to table.
Select plump birds, pick and clean as you would chickens, washing them out quickly in cold water. To allow them to lie in the water injures their flavor. Tie the legs and wings closely to the sides and put the birds in a covered roaster with a cup of water under them. Rub with butter, dredge with flour and cook for half an hour. Now remove the cover of the roaster and baste the birds plentifully with melted butter. Replace the cover, cook for fifteen minutes longer, uncover and brown.
May be roasted according to the foregoing recipe, but as it is a smaller bird than the partridge, less time will be required in the cooking. The fashionable way of cooking woodcock is what is known as "with the trail." To prepare the woodcock, wash them and remove the crops. Fold the legs and wings close to the body and bend the head forward so that the long bill may be run, skewer-wise, through the legs and wings, thus holding them in place. Put two slices of toast in the bottom of a large, deep fireproof soup-plate, and place two birds, side by side, upon this; put a lump of butter upon each, and invert a large saucer or small plate over them. Over the opening left about the edge of the saucer lay a strip of pastry, that all air may be excluded. Set in the oven for seven minutes, then make an incision in the pastry and allow the steam to escape. Cover this small hole with a bit of fresh pastry, return the birds to the oven and cook for half an hour. Pour melted butter over the woodcock, serve on the toast on which they were cooked, and garnish with strips of the browned pastry.
As some persons do not like the "trail," it may be well to remark that drawn woodcock may be cooked according to this recipe.
Pick and draw the birds, and remove the heads and feet. Wipe out the bodies with a wet cloth, split down the back and lay open upon a gridiron. Broil on both sides, taking care that the delicate flesh is not dried into tastelessness. Lay the quail upon slices of buttered toast, put a lump of butter upon each, and sprinkle with butter and salt. Set in the oven until the butter melts, then send to the table.
Clean and wash in two waters. The second should have a tea-spoonful of baking-soda dissolved in it. Rinse with clear water and wipe the inside of each bird with a soft linen cloth. Put within the body of each a single fine oyster, bind legs and wings down with fine soft cotton. Have ready thin slices of fat salt pork, two for each bird. Cover the breasts with these, binding with soft string; lay upon the grating of the roaster, pour a little boiling water from the kettle upon each, and roast from twenty to twenty-five minutes. Five minutes before you take them up, remove the pork, wash with butter, dredge with flour and brown, 27
Cut rounds of stale bread, toast and butter them; soak with gravy from the pan, and lay a bird upon each.
You may omit the oysters and fill the birds instead with a forcemeat of seasoned crumbs. Chopped oysters also make a good stuffing, while some prefer to roast them uncovered and without the pork covering.