Roast Pheasants with Cress

Faisans rôtis au Cresson

Method

Let the birds be hung by the under part of the beak separately on hooks, and sufficiently long to develop their flavour; for this purpose a cold, dry, and, above all, a thoroughly airy place should be chosen. About four days’ hanging in such a place will generally meet the requirements; but when a ‘higher’ state is wished for let the birds hang until the feathers from the under part at the tail end are easily detached. When the bird has reached the required degree of flavour pluck it, remove the crop by making an incision in the back of the neck, taking care not to break the skin of the crop, and remove the entrails by cutting the vent a little, singe and truss it for roasting, but in no case wash it; tie a piece of fat slitted bacon over the breast and roast it for fifteen to twenty minutes in front of a quick fire, the exact time, of course, depending on whether the bird has to be well done or underdone. It is an essential point, and one which cannot be too strongly insisted on, that the bird must be well basted during the roasting, especially during the beginning, for if it once becomes dry in any part, no amount of after attention can rectify it. If proper convenience is not at hand for roasting, baking can be resorted to; but the necessity for basting would be even more urgent. When the bird is cooked it should be immediately transferred to a piece of trimmed and buttered toast or a croûton, which may be in one piece, or cut into three or four, according to whether the bird is to be served whole to each person or carved. When placed on the toast on the dish, garnish it with watercress and hand with it browned breadcrumbs, bread sauce, and gravy prepared from game bones; in no case should the gravy be sent to table on the same dish as the bird. The slitted bacon may or may not be served with the pheasant. Such is the proper service when served hot, either for breakfast, luncheon, or second course dinner dish; but when served cold it should be prepared the same way, and sent to table with the simple garnish of watercress or fresh parsley.