GAME is no exception. There can be no absolute rule for cooking. And I have selected, from many sources, what I consider will be best received by the generality of ladies. The best variety possible is presented in this chapter, and I feel confident that my readers will regard as plain common sense the directions here given.
My correspondence, to gain all the information possible on this subject, has elicited various opinions from many excellent cooks.
Another one writes: "Of one thing I am certain, and that is, that game should never be parboiled."
Another lady says: "I think wild meat should be soaked a short time in weak saleratus water."
Very many good cooks unite in this, that, whenever practicable, game should be cooked without washing. Wiping with a damp cloth is deemed sufficient. If found necessary to wash, they do it as quickly as possible, and wipe dry. Game should never remain in water a moment longer than is essential to perfect cleansing, according to their theory.
A free current of air is very advantageous. A damp atmosphere is destructive to animal food.
Ducks with plump breasts and pliable feet are best.
Partridges with dark-colored bills and yellow legs are best, and if allowed to hang a few days are much finer in flavor, and more tender.
Pigeons, to be good, will not bear being kept, as the flavor leaves them. So they must be eaten fresh.
Plovers are scarcely fit for any cooking but roasting. They should feel hard at the vent, as that indicates their fatness. If very stale, the feet will be extremely dry, and they should be discarded.
A peeled lemon laid inside of a wild fowl will absorb any strong or fishy taste if left in for a few hours.
After poultry or birds are dressed, hang them up by the head, not in the sun, but in a cool place. A piece of charcoal put into each bird will guard against tainting for several days. This is especially the case in warm weather, and almost a necessity. Even if they become tainted, it is said that they can be restored to sweetness by being kept in sweet milk 24 hours. I have never had occasion to test this. The flavor of game is heightened by keeping it several days before cooking.
In venison the fat should be bright, clear, and thick; the cleft of the hoof close and smooth. The more fat there is, the better the quality of the meat.
When venison is hung up it should be looked at and wiped off whenever it has gathered moisture. A thorough dusting with black pepper will preserve it from flies. Ginger will answer the same purpose.
Bear and buffalo meats are cooked substantially the same as beef or venison.
Dark meat is usually served rare; light meat, well cooked.
It is the common custom of cooks to give claret as one of the adjuncts in cooking wild meat. It is a mere matter of taste. It can be made very palatable without it, and I prefer not to give it.
For game soup and green turtle soup, see "SOUP."
To the Hon. MONROE HEATH, ex-Mayor of Chicago, I am deeply indebted. He knows from personal experience how to kill, dress, cook, and serve, in the daintiest manner, nearly everything treated of in this entire chapter, and has very kindly revised it for me.