The coarse and unpalatable compounds so constantly met with under the denomination of forcemeat, even at tables otherwise tolerably well served, show with how little attention they are commonly prepared.
Many very indifferent cooks pique themselves on never doing any thing by rule, and the consequence of their throwing together at random (or "by guess" as they call it) the ingredients which ought to be proportioned with exceeding delicacy and exactness is, repeated failure in all they attempt to do. Long experience and a very correct eye may, it is true, enable a person to dispense occasionally with weights and measures, without hazarding the success of their operations; but it is an experiment which the learner will do better to avoid.
A large marble or Wedgwood mortar is indispensable in making all the finer kinds of forcemeat; and equally so indeed for many other purposes in cookery; no kitchen, therefore, should be without one; and for whatever preparation it may be used, the pounding should be continued with patience and perseverance until not a single Jump nor fibre be perceptible in the mass of the articles beaten together. This particularly applies to potted meats, which should resemble the smoothest paste; as well as to several varieties of forcemeat. Of these last it should be observed, that such as are made by the French method (see quenelles) are the most appropriate for an elegant dinner, either to serve in soups or to fill boned poultry of any kind; but when their exceeding lightness, which to foreigners constitutes one of their greatest excellencies, is objected to, it may be remedied by substituting dry crumbs of bread for the panada, and pounding a small quantity of the lean of a boiled ham, with the other ingredients: however, this should be done only for the balls.
No particular herb or spice should be allowed to predominate powerfully in these compositions; but the whole of the seasonings should be taken in such quantity only as will produce an agreeable savour when they are blended together.
Grate very lightly into exceedingly fine crumbs, four ounces of the inside of a stale loaf, and mix thoroughly with it, a quarter of an ounce of lemon-rind pared as thin as possible, and minced extremely small; the same quantity of savoury herbs, of which two-thirds should be parsley, and one-third thyme, likewise finely minced, a little grated nutmeg, a half-teaspoonful of salt, and as much common pepper or cayenne as will season the forcemeat sufficiently. Break into these, two ounces of good butter in very small bits, add the unbeaten yolk of one egg, and with the fingers work the whole well together until it is smoothly mixed. It is usual to chop the lemon-rind, but we prefer it lightly grated on a fine grater. It should always be fresh for the purpose, or it will be likely to impart a very unpleasant flavour to the forcemeat Half the rind of a moderate-sized lemon will be sufficient for this quantity; which for a large turkey must be increased one-half.
Bread-crumbs, 4 ozs.; lemon-rind, 1/4 oz. (or grated rind of 1/2 lemon); mixed savoury herbs, minced, 1/4 oz.; salt, 1/2 teaspoonful; pepper 1/4 to 1/3 of teaspoonful; butter, 2 ozs.; yolk, 1 egg.
This, to our taste, is a much nicer and more delicate forcemeat than that which is made with chopped suet, and we would recommend it for trial in preference. Any variety of herb or spice may be used to give it flavour, and a little minced onion or eschalot can be added to it also; but these last do not appear to us suited to the meats for which the forcemeat is more particularly intended. Half an ounce of the butter may be omitted on ordinary occasions: and a portion of marjoram or of sweet basil may take the place of part of the thyme and parsley when preferred to them.