The best calves' feet for jelly are those that have had the hair removed by scalding, but are not skinned; the skin containing a great deal of glutinous matter. In Philadelphia, unskinned calves' feet are generally to be met with in the lower or Jersey market.
Boil a set of feet in four quarts of cold water; (if the feet have been skinned allow but three quarts;) they should boil slowly till the liquid is reduced to two quarts or one half the original quantity, and the meat has dropped in rags from the bone. Then strain the liquid; measure and set it away in a large earthen pan to get cold; and let it rest till next morning. Then if you do not find it a firm cake of jelly, boil it over again with an ounce of isinglass, and again set it away till cold and congealed. Remove the sediment from the bottom of the cake of jelly, and carefully scrape off all the fat. The smallest bit of fat will eventually render it dull and cloudy. Press some clean blotting paper all over it to absorb what little grease may yet remain. Then cut the cake of jelly into pieces, and put it into a porcelain kettle to melt over the fire. To each quart allow a pound of broken up loaf-sugar, a pint of Madeira wine, and a large glass of brandy; three large sticks of the best Ceylon cinnamon broken up, (if common cinnamon, use four sticks,) the grated peel and juice of four large lemons; and lastly, the whites of four eggs strained, but not beaten. In breaking the eggs, take care to separate them so nicely that none of the yellow gets into the white; as the smallest portion of yolk of egg will prevent the jelly from being perfectly clear. Mix all the ingredients well together, and put them to the jelly in the kettle. Set it on the fire, and boil it hard for twenty minutes, but do not stir it. Then throw in a tea-cup of cold water, and boil it five minutes longer; then take the kettle off the fire, and set it aside, keeping it closely covered for half an hour; this will improve its clearness. Take a large white flannel jelly-bag; suspend it by the strings to a wooden frame made for such purposes, or to the legs of a table. Pour in the mixture boiling hot, and when it is all in, close up the mouth of the bag that none of the flavour may evaporate. Hang it over a deep white dish or bow), and let it drip slowly, but on no account squeeze the bag, as that will certainly make the jelly dull and cloudy. If it is not clear the first time, empty the bag, wash it, put in the jelly that has dripped into the dish, and pass it through again. Repeat this till it is clear. You may put it into moulds to congeal, setting them in a cold place. When it is quite firm, wrap a cloth that has been dipped in hot water, round the moulds to make the jelly turn out easily. But it will look much better, and the taste will be more lively, if you break it up after it has congealed, and put it into a glass bowl, or heap it in jelly glasses Unless it is broken, its sparkling clearness shows to little advantage.
After the clear jelly has done dripping, you may return the ingredients to the kettle, and warm them over again for about five minutes. Then put them into the bag (which you may now squeeze hard) till all the liquid is pressed out of it into a second dish or bowl. This last jelly cannot, of course, be clear, but it will taste very well, and may be eaten in the family.
A pound of the best raisins picked and washed, and boiled with the other ingredients, is thought by many persons greatly to improve the richness and flavour of calves' feet jelly. They must be put in whole, and can be afterwards used for a pudding.
Similar jelly may be made of pigs' or sheep's feet: but it is not so nice and delicate as that of calves.
By boiling two sets, or eight calves' feet in five quarts of water, you may be sure of having the jelly very firm. In damp weather it is sometimes very difficult to get it to congeal if you use but one set of feet; there is the same risk if the weather is hot. In winter it may be made several days before it is to be eaten. In summer it will keep in ice for two days; perhaps longer.