The Country Housewife, by Richard Bradley

February.

As our Poultry will begin to lay plentifully in this Month, it may not be improper to say something of them before we proceed to give the Receipts for dressing and preparing their Eggs for the Table. It is necessary to be known first, the Difference between Fowls and Birds; a Fowl always leads its young Ones to the Meat, and a Bird carries the Meat to the Young: for this reason, we find that Fowls always make their Nests upon the Ground, while Birds, for the most part, build their Nests aloft; so then our common Poultry are Fowls, the Pheasant, Partridge, Peacock, Turkey, Bustard, Quail, Lapwing, Duck, and such like are all Fowls: But a Pigeon is a Bird, and a Stork, or Crane, and a Heron, are Birds, they build their Nests aloft, and carry Meat to their young Ones.

The Characteristick Marks of the Poultry Kind are, besides what I have said above, to have short, strong, and somewhat crooked Bills, which are best adapted to pick up Grains of Corn, Pulse, and other Seeds, which is chiefly what these Fowls feed upon; and we may observe, that as neither Birds nor Fowls have Teeth to macerate their Food with, so Nature has provided them not only with a Crop to soften their Meat, but a Stomach furnish’d with thick strong Mucles, whose use is to grind the Grains of Corn, or any hard Meat swallow’d whole, which they perform by the help of little Stones, which Birds and Fowls swallow now and then, and which supply the defect of Teeth. It is observable, that Fowls, for the most part, lay a greater number of Eggs than Birds, even many more than they can sit upon at one time. I have known about thirty Eggs lay’d by one common Poultry–Hen, but it is seldom that any Bird lays more than five or six, except the Wren, and the Tom-tit, and the Pigeon not more than two. Again, the Poultry, contrary to others of the winged Race, are armed with Spurs; and it is observable, that the Cocks of the common Poultry distinguish themselves from diurnal Fowls, by crowing or singing in the Night, as the Nightingale distinguishes itself from the rest of the Bird-kind. As for the length of Life in common Poultry, Aldrovandus makes it to be about ten Years, but that the Cock becomes unfit for the Hens when he is four Years old; and we find by experience the same, as well as that a Cock should not have more than six or seven Hens, if we expect healthful and strong Broods of Chickens. About the Laying-time of these Fowls, Spurry–Seed and Buckwheat is an excellent strengthening Food for them.

There is another thing relating to Fowls of this kind well worthy observation; and that is, of Capons being made to bring up a Brood of Chickens like a Hen, clucking of’em, brooding them, and leading them to their Meat, with as much Care and Tenderness as their Dams would do. To bring this about, Jo. Baptista Porta, in lib. 4. Mag. Nat. prescribes to make a Capon very tame and familiar, so as to take Meat out of one’s Hand; then about Evening-time pluck the Feathers off his Breast, and rub the bare Skin with Nettles, and then put the Chickens to him, which will presently run under his Breast and Belly; the Chickens then rubbing his Breast gently with their Heads, perhaps allay the slinging and itching occasioned by the Nettles, or perhaps they may contribute to warm that part where the Feathers are away: however, the bare part must be rubb’d with Nettles three or four Nights successively, till he begins to love and delight in the Chickens.

When a Capon is once accustomed to this Service, he will not casuly leave it off; but as soon as he has brought up one Brood of Chickens, we may put another to him, and when they are fit to shift for themselves, we may give him the Care of a third.

The sorts of the House Pullen, or common Poultry, are many; but as the use of them for the Table is the same, I shall only take notice of such as are of the large Dunghill kind, or of the Hamburgh sort, of the Game kind, and of the small Dutch kind; which last is admired by some for the fineness of their Flesh, and for being great Layers, especially in the Winter: But it is certain that the larger sort sell the best at Market, and lay the largest Eggs, and therefore should be the most cultivated about a Farm. As for the Game Breed, some fancy that their Flesh is more white and tender than the other sorts; but they are always quarrelling, which contributes to make themselves and their Brood weak.

Where we propose to raise a large Stock of Poultry, we should be careful to secure our Hen–House from Vermin of all sorts, and keep it dry and clean, allowing also as much Air as possible; for if it is not often clean’d, the scent of the Dung will give your Fowls the Roop: So likewise there must be easy Convenience for perching of the Fowls, disposed in such a manner, that the Perches be not placed over any of the Hen’s Nests, which must always lie dry and clean, bedded with Straw, for Hay is apt to make the sitting Hens faint and weak. When we design to set a Hen, we should save her Eggs in dry Bran, and when she clucks, put no more in her Nest than she can well cover; for as to certain numbers to be more lucky in hatching, there is nothing in that: And if we fat Fowls, then use the Method prescribed in my Country Gentleman and Farmer’s Monthly Director, in the Month of January, which is much the best way of any that has yet been discovered. In the choice of Fowls for eating, those which are white feather’d and white legg’d, are much tenderer and finer in their Flesh than those of other Colours, and are much weaker; for which reason, those who understand Cocking, do not approve of such as happen to be white feather’d: and those which are black feather’d, are accounted the hottest and most fiery, and their Flesh is coarser than in other Fowls. But let us now come to the use of the Flesh of these Fowls, which is either eaten roasted, boiled, fricasseed, baked, or broiled either slit or whole. It is to be noted, that the Flesh of these Fowls or Chickens boiled is more easily digested than the Flesh of those that are roasted, and the Flesh of the Legs is more easy of Digestion than that of the Breast. Mr. Ray takes notice, that those parts of Fowls, which are continually in Action, are esteem’d the best, for which reason he prefers the Legs of tame Fowls, and what we call the Wings in wild Fowl, that is, the fleshy part on the Breast. Gefner and Aldrovandus have both largely treated of the use of the Flesh and Eggs of these Fowls, but I believe some of the following Receipts for dressing them, will not be unacceptable, they being more adapted to the Taste of our Times.

I shall begin with some curious ways of dressing of Eggs, which I had from a Gentleman of Brussels, who had collected them from most parts of Europe.

First Way of dressing of Eggs.

Boil your Eggs till they are hard, and cut the Whites only into Rings or large pieces; then cut some Parsley and Onions small, and stew them with a little Salt, Pepper, and Nutmeg in half a Pint of Water, till the Onion and Parsley is tender; when this is done, put in your Eggs well flower’d, and as soon as they are hot, put half a Pint of Cream to them, and thicken them for serving at the Table. The Yolks may be fry’d to garnish the Dish.

Second Way of preparing of Eggs.

Boil your Eggs hard as before, and cut the Whites likewise as directed in the above Receipt, and then prepare some Gravy, a bunch of sweet Herbs, a little Salt, some Lemon Peel, some Jamaica Pepper beaten small, an Onion shred small, and let these stew together till it is sufficiently season’d; after which, strain it off, and put in the Eggs to heat them thoroughly, and then thicken the whole with burnt Butter.

Third Way of preparing of Eggs.

Break some Eggs, beat them well, and season them with Salt and some Jamaica Pepper finely powder’d, then make some Butter very hot in a Pan, and pour in the Mixture to fry, till it is hard enough to hold together; then it must be taken out, and cut into several Pieces, and served with the same Sauce directed in the foregoing Receipt.

Fourth Way of dressing of Eggs.

Take the Hearts of two or three Cabbage–Lettuces, a little Sorrel, Parsley, Cherville, and a large Mushroom, put them in Water over the Fire till they are tender, then chop them together very small with some Yolks of hard Eggs, and season the whole with Salt, Pepper, or Nutmeg; and when the Mass is well mixt together, put them in paste, making them into small flat Puffs, and fry them. This may be diversify’d, by adding some sweet Herbs chop’d small to the Mixture, before it is put into Paste.

Fifth Way of dressing of Eggs.

Beat as many Eggs as you think convenient, and at the same time squeeze the Juice of an Orange among them; being well beaten, season them with a little Salt, then take a Stew–Pan, and if it is a Fast-day, put some Butter into it and pour in your Eggs, keeping them stirring continually over the Fire till they are enough, then pour them into a Plate upon Sippets. But on Flesh-days, instead of Butter use strong Gravy, or on Fish-days some Mushroom–Gravy may be used instead of Butter, or with it.

Sixth Way of ordering of Eggs.

Boil Eggs till they are hard, peel them, and cut them lengthways, then quarter each half, and dip the several quarters in Batter, made of Flower, Eggs and Milk; fry them then in Butter very hot, over a quick Fire, and lay them a while before the Fire to drain. In the mean while prepare for them the following Sauce of burnt or brown Butter, seasoned with Sweet-herbs, Salt, Pepper, Nutmeg, and a little Elder–Vinegar, with some Mushrooms stew’d and hash’d; and garnish your Dish, or Plate, with fry’d Bread, Parsley, and fry’d Mushrooms.

These are a few out of many Receipts, which the above Gentleman gave me, and may serve as Directions for many others; for by what I can find, all the others depend upon the same Principles. The variation of these depends upon the variety of Tastes: Some like Amletts, or Frazes of Eggs, with Bacon, or with Clary, or other high-tasted Herbs, which every good Housewife knows how to direct. The same Gentleman observes, that Amletts with boiled Artichoke Bottoms sliced, Amletts with the Tops of boil’d Asparagus, green Pease boiled, Mushrooms stew’d and sliced, or Truffles, these he tells me are extraordinary.

As to the particulars relating to the dressing of farced Fowls, the methods which most agree with my Palate, and have been admired by the best Judges of my Acquaintance, are the following, which I had from France.

To dress a Capon, or other Fowl.

When your Fowl is truss’d for Roasting, cover the Breast with a thin slice of fat Bacon, and put an Onion stuck with Cloves into the Belly, with some Salt and Pepper; when it is roasted enough, take off the Bacon, and strew it with grated Bread, till it is brown. This is eaten, either with Orange–Juice and Salt, or if Oysters are at hand, as they are about many Farms in England, they may be stew’d gently with a little White Wine, Spice, and a little Butter, which will make an agreeable Sauce for it. Or else it may be eaten with a very good Sauce, which I have often met with, and have lik’d as well; which is made with small Beer and Water, equal quantities, an Onion slic’d, some Pepper and Salt, and about an Ounce of Flesh, either of Mutton or Beef, to boil till it comes to about half, supposing at first ’tis not above half a Pint; and at some places, instead of Mutton, &c. this Sauce has been only made of the Neck of a Fowl. This Sauce, in my Opinion, has a very rich Taste, and has been well approv’d of by some curious Travellers: Where we could have this, we rather chose it than Wine–Sauce. Capons, Pullets, or others of this sort of Fowl, may be also larded with Bacon, if they are roasted; but the Gentleman aforesaid, who gave me this Receipt, told me that no Water–Fowl must be larded with Bacon.

To farce or stuff a Fowl. From Mr. Agneau.

When your Fowl is made ready for Roasting, take the Liver boil’d, a Shallot, a little Fat of Bacon, some grated Bread, the Bottom of a boil’d Artichoke, and some Mushrooms, chop these very small, and make a forc’d Meat of them, season’d with Salt and Spices at pleasure; fill the Belly of the Fowl with this, and then truss it, covering the Breast with a thin slice of fat Bacon, and over that put a piece of writing Paper. Roast this, and serve it up with the following Sauce: Make a hash of Mushrooms, an Anchovy, a few Capers and some Gravy, boiled together with such Seasoning as you approve; the Sauce should be thicken’d or brown’d, and it is fit for the Table.

To farce Fowls another way. From the same.

Take Pullets and roast them, then take the Flesh of the Breast, and mince it small, with some Fat of Bacon boil’d, a few Mushrooms, a little Onion and Parsley, and some Crumb of Bread soak’d in Cream over a gentle Fire; when all these are well minc’d, add the Yolks of two or three Eggs, and mix all together; then with this forced Meat fill the Breast of the Fowls in their proper shape, and beat some Whites of Eggs to go over them, and then cover them thick with Crumbs of Bread, having first laid your Fowls commodiously in a Dish, and then put them in the Oven till they have taken a fine brown Colour. If you have more of this farced Meat than you use in making good the Fowls, either make it into Balls and fry them, or else make a Batter of Eggs, Milk, and Wheat–Flower, and dip small parcels of the Farce into it to fry for garnishing. You may make a Sauce to these farced Fowls with stew’d Mushrooms toss’d up with Cream; the same may be done with Turkeys, Pheasants, &c.

To make a brown or white Fricassee of Chickens. From the same.

Strip the Chickens of their Skins as soon as they are kill’d, and when they are drawn, cut their Wings, Legs, and most fleshy parts in Pieces, then fry them a little in Hog’s-Lard; after which, put them to stew with a little Butter and Gravy, for a brown Fricassee, or Butter and Water for a white Fricassee; to either of these add a Glass of White Wine, with a Seasoning of Salt, Pepper, Nutmeg, Cherville cut small, and three or four young Onions whole, that they may be withdrawn when the Fricassee is enough: Then brown the Sauce with some of the same Lard the Chickens were fry’d in, and thicken it with burnt Flower; to this you may add fry’d or stew’d Mushrooms. But for a white Fricassee, instead of the browning with the Lard and burnt Flower, thicken the Sauces with three or four Yolks of Eggs, and a little Verjuice; or else when the Fricassee is stew’d enough, take off the Fat as much as possible, and toss it up with Cream; this will serve to fricassee Rabbits.

In Lent, and on Fast-days, I have eaten very good Soups abroad, that were made without any Flesh. And as that is not very common in England, I thought it convenient to bring over the Receipts with me, that we may know how to make the best of every thing about a Farm.

To make Fish–Gravy for Soups.

To make this Fish–Gravy, which may serve for a Foundation of all Fish Soups, take Tench or Eels, or both, well scour’d from Mud, and their Outsides scour’d well with Salt; then pull out their Gills, and put them in a Kettle with Water, Salt, a bunch of sweet Herbs, and an Onion stuck with Cloves; boil these an hour and a half, and then strain off the Liquor thro’ a Cloth: add to this the Peelings of Mushrooms well wash’d, or Mushrooms themselves cut small; boil these together, and strain the Liquor thro’ a Sieve into a Stew–Pan, upon some burnt or fry’d Flower, and a little Lemon, which will soon render it of a good Colour, and delicate Flavour, fit for Soups, which may be varied according to the Palate, by putting in Pot–Herbs and Spices to every one’s liking; this will keep good some time. When you make any of this into Soup, remember to put a Glass of white Wine into your Soup a little before you serve it.

A Foundation for Herb Soups.

Take a quantity of good Herbs, such as Cherville, Spinage, Sallery, Leeks, Beet–Cards, and such like, with two or three large Crusts of Bread, some Butter, a bunch of sweet Herbs, and a little Salt; put these, with a moderate quantity of Water, into a Kettle, and boil them an hour and half, and strain off the Liquor thro’ a Sieve, and it will be a good Foundation for Soups, either of Asparagus Buds, Lettuce, or any other kind, fit for Lent or Fast-days. These Herb Soups are sometimes strengthened with two or three Yolks of Eggs, a little before they are serv’d to the Table.

As in this Month there is plenty of Oranges, so it is a proper Season to make Orange–Wine, which is a most pleasant and refreshing Liquor in the Summer Season. The following Receipt is an approved one for it.

To make Orange Wine. From Mrs. E. B.

Take twenty Gallons of Water, and forty Pounds of fine Sugar, mix these together, boil and clarify it with the Whites of Eggs: against this is done, have two hundred middling Oranges, pared so thin that no White appear upon the Rinds; and as soon as the Syrup is taken off the Fire, put the Peels of five and twenty Oranges into it; and when the Liquor is quite cold, put in the Juice of the Oranges, with some fresh Ale–Yeast spread upon a warm Toast of white Bread; let this work two days, and then put it into the Vessel or Cask, adding at the same time, two Gallons of white Port Wine; and then to every Gallon of Liquor, add an Ounce of Syrup of Citron, or Syrup of Lemon, and in two Months time it be fit to bottle.

In this Month it may not be unneccessary to observe that Oranges are declining, and waste apaces; but they are commonly very cheap, and therefore such as have a great Call for Orange-peel, as Confectioners, &c. now buy them in quantities; but a little Carriage by Land will contribute to their quicker decay. The Orange, tho’ it is not found in every Garden, yet I esteem it as a necessary Fruit in many Cases, and what a Family can hardly be without; and truly considering how good Oranges we might have in our Gardens, and how easily they may be cultivated against Garden-walls, I much wonder that they are not more generally planted with us. There is a very good Instance of their prospering well against a Wall, and thriving in the natural Ground, at Mr. Heather’s, a curious Gentleman at Tiwittenham, which Trees bear very well, and bring very large Fruit.

But as I have observ’d above, that this is the Season when foreign Oranges are generally in the greatest plenty about London, it is a good time to preserve their Juice; especially it may prove useful to such as have opportunities of vending Punch in large Quantitles, or for such who find that Liquor agreeable to them: For tho’ I have known several who have express’d the Juice of Oranges and Lemons, and bottled it up against a dear Time, yet such Juice has turn’d to be of a very disageeable Sourness in a short season. The Method which I have taken to preserve this Juice to be used in Punch, was to express the Juice, and pass it thro’ a Jelly-bag, with about two Ounces of double-refined Loaf–Sugar to each Pint of Juice, and a Pint of Brandy, or Arrack; bottle this up, and cork it well with sound Corks, and you may keep it a Year. Before you pass this Liquor thro’ the Bag, you may put about the Rind of two Oranges to steep for two Hours, into each Quart of Liquor, which will give it a rich Flavour. When you have occasion to use it for Punch, it is at the discretion of the Maker to add what quantity of Brandy, or Arrack, he thinks proper, only remembring that there is already a Pint in each Bottle. This may be of good advantage to Inn-keepers, &c. who live remote from London; and by this way they need not run the hazard of losing this sort of Fruit, by bruising or rotting, which they will be subject to, if they are not well pack’d, and have bad Roads. And besides, considering the vast difference that there is in the Price of Oranges, so much, that at some Seasons you must pay as much for one, as will at another time purchase near a Dozen, it is the best to consider of this when they are at the cheapest Price. We may likewise use the same Method with Lemons; but it is not convenient to steep any of the Peels in the Liquor, for they will give it a disagreeable Flavour. But it is to be understood also, that Lemons are to be met with in perfection all the Year; only this Season they are at the cheapest Price. The Peel of an Orange or two may be put to each Quart of Juice, to steep as above directed, bruising every piece of Peel as you put it into the Juice. Note, that the Lemon and Orange Juice must not be mix’d together in the same Bottles.

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Last updated Friday, March 14, 2014 at 22:17