Friday, October 01, 2010

The English Art of Cookery.

I have a different sort of ‘on this day’ food story for you today. October 1st is an anniversary, of sorts, of The English Art of Cookery, by Richard Briggs, which was published in London in 1788. I say ‘of sorts’ because the actual publication date is usually made much of, but in this book, I like it that the author signed the preface on October 1, 1788, at the Temple Coffee-House. I like it precisely because I can hear his sigh of relief as he signed off on his work.

I like the preface itself too, for its wonderful tone of proud humility! Here it is:

Having employed much of my Life in the Practice of Cookery in all its Branches, I presume to offer the following Sheets to the Public, in the hope that they will find the Directions and Receipts more intelligible than in most Books of the Kind. I have bestowed every Pains to render them easily practicable, and adapted to the Capacities of those who may be ordered to use them. To waste Language and high Terms on such Subjects, appears to me to render the Art of Cookery embarrassing, and to throw Difficulties in the Way of the Learner – nor can the Reader reasonably expect any superfluous Embellishments of Stile from one whose Habits of Life have been active, and not studious.
The Errors and Imperfections of former Treatises first suggested to me that a Performance like the following would be acceptable to the Public. In one Article, that of trussing Poultry, I have endeavoured to give particular and useful Directions, because no Book of its Kind has contained such, that Subject having been universally overlooked by them – and in this, as well as in other branches of Cookery, I hope the Reader will find much Improvement, and many useful Hints. The Contents I have endeavoured to render as complete as possible, that the Learner may have immediate Recourse to whatever Article may be wanted.
Aware, however, of the Difficulty of my Talk, I submit this Performance, with Deference and Respect, as I am conscious that Errors will creep into the best Performances, and that the only Merit I can claim is, that of having corrected the Mistakes of former Works, and added the most useful Improvements derived from my own Practice and Experience.

So, what of his instructions on ‘trussing Poultry’ of which the author is so proud? Here is the section on trussing Turkies for those of you planning to update your skill in that area, before Thanksgiving.

After they are properly picked, break the leg-bone close to the foot, and put it on a hook fastened against a wall, and draw out the strings from the thigh; cut the neck off close to the back, but mind and leave the crop skin long enough to turn over to the back, take out the crop, and with your middle-finger loosen the liver and gut at the throat-end; cut off the vent and take out the gut, pull out the gizzard with a crooked sharp-pointed iron, and the liver will follow, but be careful you do not break the gall, wipe the inside out clean with a wet cloth, then with a large knife cut the breast-bone on each side close to the back through, and draw the legs close to the crops, put a cloth on the breast, and beat the high-bone down with a rolling-pin till it lays flat. When you truss it for boiling cut the legs off, and put your middle-finger in the inside and raise the skin of the legs and put them under the apron of the turkey, put a skewer in the joint of the wing and the middle joint of the leg, and run it through the body and the other leg and wing, put the liver and gizzard in the pinions, having first opened the gizzard and taken out the filth and the gall of the liver, and turn the small end of the pinion on the back; tie a packthread over the ends of the legs to keep them in their places; for roasting leave the legs on, put a skewer in the joint of the wing, put the legs close up, and put the skewer through the middle of the leg and body body, and so at the other side put another skewer in at the small part of the leg; put it close on the outside of the sidesman, and put the skewer through, and the fame on the other fide, put in the liver and gizzard in the pinion, and turn the point of the pinion on the back, then put another skewer through the body of the turkey close above the pinions.

That liver that you pull out of the turkey must not go to waste, of course. Here is an idea from the book:

Take six large fowl livers and one turkey liver; pick out the galls and throw them into cold water; take the six livers and put them into a stew-pan, with half a pint of gravy, a gill of fresh mushrooms cut small, six cocks-combs or stones, a few truffles boiled, a spoonful of ketchup, a little pepper and salt, a piece of butter mixed with flour as big as a chestnut, cover them and stew them for fifteen minutes; butter a piece of paper, wrap the turkey’s liver in it, and broil it of a fine brown; take off the paper, put it in the middle of the dish, the stewed livers round it, pour the sauce over all, and garnish with lemon and beetroot.

Quotation for the Day.

“Sorry, I don’t do offal.”
Jamie Oliver.

No comments: