IN buying poultry choose those that are fresh and fat. Half-grown poultry is comparatively insipid; it is best when full-grown but not old. Old poultry is tough and hard. An old goose is so tough as to be frequently uneatable. When poultry is young the skin is thin and tender, and can be easily ripped by trying it with a pin; the legs are smooth; the feet moist and limber; and the eyes full and bright. The body should be thick and the breast fat. The bill and feet of a young goose are yellow, and have but few hairs on them; when old they are red and hairy.
Poultry is best when killed over night, as if cooked too soon after killing, it is hard and does not taste well. It is not the custom in America, as in some parts of Europe, to keep game, or indeed any sort of eatable, till it begins to taint; all food when inclining to decomposition being regarded by us with disgust.
When poultry or game is frozen, it should be brought into the kitchen early in the morning of the day on which it is to be cooked. It may be thawed by laying it several hours in cold water. If it is not thawed it will require double the time to cook, and will be tough and tasteless when done.
In drawing poultry be very careful not to break the gall, lest its disagreeable bitterness should be communicated to the liver.
Poultry should be always scalded in hot water to make the feathers come out easily. Before they are cooked they should be held for a moment over the blaze of the fire to singe off the hairs that are about the skin. The head, neck, and feet should be cut off, and the ends of the legs skewered in the bodies. A string should be tied tightly round.