Milk-fed calves that are from six to eight weeks old make the best veal. The fat about the kidneys in such veal is white, and the muscles are a delicate flesh color, and firm. The hind quarter is the choicest, and is a little higher in price than the fore quarter. The loin makes the finest chops. Cutlets are usually taken from the legs. The fillet also comes from the legs.
The best mutton is abundant in fat, which is white, clear, and solid. The leg bones are white, and the scored flesh on the forequarter is red, and the lean meat juicy, firm, and of a dark red color.
In selecting lamb, choose that which has a thick back, on which the fat is white. The kidney fat should be white also. A thick back indicates nice chops, and if they are good, other parts are more likely to be so. The bones of lamb should have a pinkish hue.
The lean of the best fresh pork is of a delicate red color, juicy, firm, and fine grained. The fat is white, and the skin thin. A thick skin indicates an old animal.
Medium-sized hams weighing from ten to twelve pounds are usually the best. Hams should be plump and round, with short tapering shanks, and small bones. The fat should be white and firm and the skin thin and un-wrinkled.
A moderate sized turkey is more apt to be young than a larger one. A hen is preferable to a gobler because usually plumper, and more delicate in flavor. The legs of a turkey should be dark and smooth, and the breast bone soft and pliable, as tough skin, rough legs, and a firm breast-bone indicate an old turkey. When turkeys or other fowls are fresh, the eyes are bright and full, and the feet and legs limber. The breast of a goose should be plump and white, and the feet yellow and flexible. Capons are the greatest delicacies known in the chicken line. They retain the tenderness of young chickens, and have the size and flavor of mature fowls. The price of capons depends upon quality, - from eighteen to twenty-five cents a pound. The usual weight is from eight to ten pounds, but extra lots weigh twelve to fourteen pounds. Capons are usually dry picked, leaving the "ruff" (the long feathers on the neck), tail and wing quills, and thigh feathers; in fact, about all the picking done is to take the small feathers from the breast and body. Poultry for market is not drawn, but it must be kept without food for twenty-four hours before killing, so that there may be no food left in the crop, or the fowl will be apt to become tainted after lying awhile.
A hen over a year old will not roast satisfactorily. When buying a chicken for roasting, try the breast-bone. If the chicken is young the tip of the bone will be cartilaginous still, and can be easily bent. See that it is not merely broken. An older hen is better stewed than roasted. If it is roasted at all, it must be first steamed until tender. This, of course, draws out the juices somewhat, thus giving it something of the flavor of a boiled fowl.