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Dressing and Cleaning Poultry

Remove hairs and down by holding the bird over a flame (from gas, alcohol, or burning paper) and constantly changing position until all parts of surface have been exposed to flame; this is known as singeing. Cut off the head and draw out pinfeathers, using a small pointed knife. Cut through the skin around the leg one and one-half inches below the leg joint, care being taken not to cut tendons; place leg at this cut over edge of board, press downward to snap the bone, then take foot in right hand, holding bird firmly in left hand, and pull off foot, and with it the tendons. In old birds the tendons must be drawn separately, which is best accomplished by using a steel skewer. Make an incision through skin below breastbone, just large enough to admit the hand. With the hand remove entrails, gizzard, heart, and liver; the last three named constitute what is known as giblets. The gall bladder, lying on the under surface of the right lobe of the liver, is removed with liver, and great care must be taken that it is not broken, as a small quantity of the bile which it contains would impart a bitter flavor to the parts with which it came in contact. Enclosed by the ribs, on either side of backbone, may be found the lungs, of spongy consistency and red color. Care must be taken that every part of them is removed. Kidneys, lying in the hollow near end of backbone, must also be removed. By introducing first two fingers under skin close to neck, the windpipe may be easily found and withdrawn; also the crop, which will be found adhering to skin close to breast. Draw down neck skin, and cut off neck close to body, leaving skin long enough to fasten under the back. Remove oil bag, and wash bird by allowing cold water to run through it, not allowing bird to soak in cold water. Wipe inside and outside, looking carefully to see that everything has been withdrawn. If there is disagreeable odor, suggesting that fowl may have been kept too long, clean at once, wash inside and out with soda water, and sprinkle inside with charcoal and place some under wings.

Poultry dressed at market seldom have tendons removed unless so ordered. It is always desirable to have them withdrawn, as they become hard and bony during cooking. It is the practice of market-men to cut a gash through the skin, to easier reach crop and windpipe. This gash must be sewed before stuffing, and causes the bird to look less attractive when cooked.

To Cut up a Fowl

Singe, draw out pinfeathers, cut off head, remove tendons and oil bag. Cut through skin between leg and body close to body, bend back leg (thus breaking ligaments), cut through flesh, and separate at joint. Separate the upper part of leg, second joint, from lower part of leg, drumstick, as leg is separated from body. Remove wing by cutting through skin and flesh around upper wing joint which lies next to body, then disjoint from body. Cut off tip of wing and separate wing at middle joint. Remove leg and wing from other side. Separate from back by cutting through skin, beginning two inches below breastbone and passing knife between terminus of small ribs on either side and extending cut to collar-bone. Before removing entrails, gizzard, heart, liver, lungs, kidneys, crop, and windpipe, observe their position, that the anatomy of the bird may be understood. The back is sometimes divided by cutting through the middle crosswise. The wishbone, with adjoining meat, is frequently removed, and the breast meat may be separated in two parts by cutting through flesh close to breastbone with cleaver. Wipe pieces, excepting back, with cheese cloth wrung out of cold water. Back piece needs thorough washing.

To Clean Giblets

Remove thin membrane, arteries, veins, and clotted blood around heart. Separate gall bladder from liver, cutting off any of liver that may have a greenish tinge. Cut fat and membranes from gizzard. Make a gash through thickest part of gizzard, and cut as far as inner lining, being careful not to pierce it. Remove the inner sack and discard. Wash giblets and cook until tender, with neck and tips of wings, putting them in cold water and heating water quickly that some of the flavor may be drawn out into stock, which is to be used for making gravy.

To Stuff Poultry

Put stuffing by spoonfuls in neck end, using enough to sufficiently fill the skin, that bird may look plump when served. Where cracker stuffing is used, allowance must be made for the swelling of crackers, otherwise skin may burst during cooking. Put remaining stuffing in body; if body is full, sew skin; if not full, bring skin together with a skewer.

To Truss Fowl

Draw thighs close to body and hold by inserting a steel skewer under middle joint, running it through body, coming out under middle joint on other side. Cut piece three-fourths inch wide from neck skin, and with it fasten legs together at ends; or cross drumsticks, tie securely with a long string, and fasten to tail. Place wings close to body and hold them by inserting a second skewer through wing, body, and wing on opposite side. Draw neck skin under back and fasten with a small wooden skewer. Turn bird on its breast. Cross string attached to tail piece and draw it around each end of upper skewer; fasten string in a knot and cut off ends. In birds that are not stuffed, legs are often passed through incisions cut in body under bones near tail.

To Dress Birds for Broiling

Singe, wipe, and with a sharp-pointed knife, beginning at back of neck, make a cut through backbone the entire length of bird. Lay open the bird and remove contents from inside. Cut out rib bones on either side of backbone, remove breastbone, then cut through tendons at joints.

To Fillet a Chicken

Remove skin from breast, and with a small sharp knife begin at end of collar-bone and cut through flesh, following close to wish and breastbones the entire length of meat. Raise flesh with fingers, and with knife free the piece of meat from bones which lie under it. Cut meat away from wing joint; this solid piece of breast is meat known as a fillet. This meat is easily separated in two parts. The upper, larger part is called the large fillet; the lower part, the mignon fillet. The tough skin on the outside of large fillet should be removed, also the sinew from mignon fillet. To remove tough skin, place large fillet on a board, upper side down, make an incision through flesh at top of fillet, and cut entire length of fillet, holding knife as close to skin as possible. Trim edges, that fillet may look shapely.


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The Boston Cooking-School Cook Book (1896).

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