This section is from the book "The Steward's Handbook And Guide To Party Catering", by Jessup Whitehead. Also available from Amazon: Larousse Gastronomique.
"There is nothing in the whole mundus edibilis equal to a well-prepared woodcock. To no other bird do we pay such homage: is is the glory of the gourmet, the pride of the cook, the well-beloved of all men; the height of gustatory excitement, the consummation of all luxury; succulent as regards its flesh, volatile touching its elements, and perfect respecting its flavor." - "Thegourmets have a way of knowing when the flesh of the woodcock is arrived at the degree of flavor required to be sought after. The bird is suspended by the beam-feather of the middle of its tail; when the body gets loose and full, then is the time to eat it." - "In one respect the woodcock (and also his cousin, the snipe) is more honored than any other kind of game. He is never drawn; every morsel of him is eaten, to the last entrail. The choicest bit is the head, the thigh is finer, the trail is considered superlative. The usual way of roasting this bird is to tie him up in slices of bacon, and hang him, tail downwards, before the fire. Under each bird is put a slice of bread, toasted a delicate brown, and on to this the trail drops.
Sometimes when half done the trail is removed, mixed with bacon fat, chopped shallot and crumbs of bread, salt and pepper, and then spread upon the toast, which is returned to the pan until the bird is finished. Lemon in slices is served with him." - "It is a bad plan to 'spit' any small birds; they should be tied to a spit, and, if roasted in the contrivance which the French call a rotisscire, they stand a better chance of being artistically roasted." - "When roasted, woodcocks and snipes ought to be, as the French term it, vert-cuit - that is to say, underdone. As is well known, they must not be drawn; the gizzard alone is extracted from the inside with the point of a skewer, inserted in the side of the bird, which is then trussed in the usual way, and wrapped up in a slice of fat bacon tied round with string. Fifteen minutes is sufficient time to roast a woodcock before a brisk fire".
"Snipes and woodcocks are plentiful in Ireland. In accordance with ancient custom, the Lord Lieutenant sends every year as a Christinas present to the Queen a monster game-pie composed of 2 doz. woodcocks and about 100 snipes. The birds are boned and stuffed with a farce of fait gras aux truffes, and the crust is elaborately decorated with appropriate designs".
Woodcock - becasse.
Picked and singed while fresh; head skinned; eyes, crops, and gizzards removed; trail chopped with two chicken livers, salt, pepper, butter, and spread on slices of toast. Birds with slices of fat pork on breasts roasted in hot oven 15 minutes, toast with trail set in oven 5 minutes; woodcocks served on the toast.
Woodcocks are the best of all birds for a salmis.
The birds cut in halves and dished in crown shape with game sauce and mushrooms.