Poultry is a traditional item on the dinner menu, and although the main methods of cooking – roasting, boiling and steaming – vary only slightly, new ideas may be incorporated to produce a delightful main-course dish.
The inclusion of fruit and fruit juice in your stuffing and basting will give a piquant flavor to the poultry. Garlic is an effective seasoning too, but remember that the birds themselves have a delicate flavor and should never be over-seasoned.
Whether you bake or boil your poultry the time will differ according to the size and age of the bird. Test the leg with a fine skewer for tenderness.
Older birds are better steamed for one or two hours before roasting, and a good plan is to wipe the poultry all over, inside and outside, with either vinegar or sherry. This will help to make the poultry tender.
In roasting it is most important that the bird is placed on a trivet, and not allowed to lie in the fat in the baking dish. Baste every 15 minutes. This helps to make the poultry brown, tender, and keeps it moist.
Here are some general rules for choosing all kinds of poultry:
- The weight should be good in proportion to the size of the bird.
- The bird should not be over-fat or the flesh will be greasy.
- The skin should be smooth, thin, and unblemished.
- The tip of the breast should be soft and pliable.
- For roast, choose a fowl with dark or yellow skin.
- For boiling, choose one with white legs and pale skin.
- Ducks should be plump, soft, and their feet pliable.
- The eyes should be bright and prominent.
- The feet limp, moist, and pliable.
- The flesh firm and the skin a good color.
When stuffing a fowl which is to be roasted, insert the stuffing the night before and the flavor will penetrate through the whole bird. And remember an old bird can be made as tender as chicken if cooked as follows:
Rub the bird over first with lemon juice, which whitens the flesh and improves the flavor. Then wrap in buttered paper and steam for two or three hours, according to size. The flesh of an old fowl is more nourishing than that of a young one and quite as delicious if cooked like this. The bird may be roasted after being partially steamed.
Fruit glazed chicken is wonderful to eat, and is simply prepared.
Sprinkle the inside and outside of bird with salt and pepper. Heat 1/2 cup butter till melted, and add about 8½ cups white bread cubes. Stir and cook about 5 minutes, then add 1 cup finely chopped celery, 1/2 cup sliced onion, 1 – 3 cup minced parsley, 1 cup chopped or sliced ripe olives, 1/2 teaspoon sage and stir until the bread cubes are slightly brown and the vegetables curl.
Remove from fire, add 1/2 cup juice from tinned peaches, and stir to blend. Use this to stuff the chicken. Sew up opening and bake in a moderate oven about 15 minutes. Baste every 15 minutes, from a cup of peach juice, until the chicken is cooked, about 3 hours.
If evaporation is rapid, add water as needed. Cover pan when chicken is sufficiently brown. Any other fruit juice, apricot, pear or plum, makes an equally delightful glaze and stuffing for roast chicken.
If you prefer to boil your fowl prepare the bird and place in well-buttered paper. Place in boiling water with one onion, one carrot, one turnip, teaspoon salt, a bunch parsley, and one bay leaf.
Simmer gently according to size, a chicken about 1/2 hour, a full-sized bird about one hour.
To make the accompanying sauce melt 1 oz butter, stir in gradually 1 oz flour and 1/2 pint milk. Thicken and add the chopped up whites of 2 hard-boiled eggs. Grate the yolks over sauce on top of fowl and garnish with parsley.
Only the smallest and tenderest of chickens are suitable for broiling. Choose those between 1½ to 2 lb. Have them split down the back. Wash and dry thoroughly. Rub all over with butter, fat, or oil and season with salt and pepper.
Put in a greased grilling pan and sear one side quickly at high heat. Turn and sear other side. Reduce heat or move chicken further from heat and grill until tender, about 15 minutes more.
To cook broiled breaded chicken, prepare and clean bird as above. Brush with butter and season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with chopped parsley and onion. Put in baking pan.
Bake in hot over 10 minutes, turning once. Reduce heat. Cover and bake in a moderate oven 30 minutes more, turning frequently. Brush over with well-beaten egg. Sprinkle with fine breadcrumbs and broil at high heat until nicely browned all over. Serve with brown or tartar sauce.
For the tartar sauce you will require 1 cup mayonnaise, 1 tablespoon minced pickles, 1 tablespoon minced parsley, 1 tablespoon minced capers, 1 tablespoon minced onion. Mix all together thoroughly and serve cold.
For a cold dinner steamed chicken is ideal. But don’t hurry the process as the slow cooking keeps the bird moist and makes it tender. Wash the bird well, put a small white onion, some slices lemon, and a few sprigs of fresh herbs inside the cavity and tie the bird neatly in shape.
Rub all over with cut lemon then place on a rack, breast side up, in a large saucepan. Add enough boiling water to come half-way up the bird, without covering the breast, and simmer gently for 2½ to 3 hours, depending on size.
Remove from saucepan, drain well and remove onion and herbs. Allow to cool gradually. Cut in slices or cubes to serve. The stock may be used for chicken broth or jellied, with chicken, to serve with salad.
If you are having a duck for dinner, remember that the duck has enough of its own fat, so don’t add any more or it will be greasy. To roast ducklings with green peas put the birds in the oven, and bake for an hour.
Then put a tablespoon of butter in a large stew pan and brown slowly, dredging in flour and stirring with a wooden spoon until brown. Add a breakfast cup of water and pepper and salt.
When this boils lay in the ducklings and a quantity of green peas. Let all stew, closely covered, for another hour. Serve the ducklings surrounded by green peas.
Stewed duck can be delicious. Brown the duck in fat and fry two onions for about 20 minutes. Pour out dripping and add gravy to almost cover the bird. Then add some thyme, sage, pepper, and salt and simmer until tender.
Strain and thicken the gravy with a little butter and flour. Bring to boil and serve.
Your duckling will acquire a piquant flavor if a little chopped apple and orange juice is added to the stuffing. Baste the bird with a cup of orange juice and you can add 1/2 cup claret if liked.
Yet another flavor may be obtained if the bird is rubbed with a clove of garlic, or sprinkled with garlic powder before cooking.
Soft breadcrumbs, 1 tablespoon finely chopped onion, 1 small cooking apple, peeled and diced, 1 sage leaf, pepper and salt and 1 tablespoon orange or lemon juice will make sufficient stuffing for one duck.
When baking allow 25 to 30 minutes a lb, and baste every 10 minutes.
There are a variety of accompaniments for poultry but perhaps the most popular are:
Boiled ham or bacon, melted butter, celery or parsley sauce, for boiled turkey or fowl. Cranberry (made from canned cranberries, when available) or bread sauce, fried sausages, for roast turkey.