To Roast a Fowl

Fowl for roasting.

[Fowls are always in season when they can be procured sufficiently young to be tender. About February they become clear and scarce; and small spring chickens are generally very expensive. As summer advances they decline in price.]


Strip off the feathers, and carefully pick every stump from the skin, as nothing can be more uninviting than the appearance of any kind of poultry where this has been neglected, nor more indicative of slovenliness on the part of the cook. Take off the head and neck close to the body, but leave sufficient of the skin to tie over the part that is cut. In drawing the bird, do not open it more than is needful, and use great precaution to avoid breaking the gall-bladder. Hold the legs in boiling water for two or three minutes that the skin may be peeled from them easily; cut the claws, and then, with a bit of lighted writing-paper, singe off the hairs without blackening the fowl. Wash, and wipe it afterwards very dry, and let the liver and gizzard be made delicately clean, and fastened into the pinions. Truss and spit it firmly; flour it well when first laid to the fire, baste it frequently with butter, and when it. is done draw out the skewers, dish it, pour a little good gravy over, and send it to table with bread, mushroom, egg, chestnut, or olive sauce. A common mode of serving roast fowls in France is aux cressons, that is, laid upon young water-cresses,* which have previously been freed from the outer leaves, thoroughly washed, shaken dry in a clean cloth, and sprinkled with a little fine salt, and sometimes with a small quantity of vinegar: these should cover the dish, and after the fowls are placed on them, gravy should be poured over as usual.

The body of a fowl may be filled with very small mushrooms prepared as for partridges (see partridges with mushrooms), then sewn up, roasted, and served with mushroom-sauce: this is an excellent mode of dressing it. a little rasped bacon, or a bit or two of the lean of beef or veal minced, or cut into dice, may be put inside the bird when either is considered an improvement; but its own liver, or that of another fowl, will be found to impart a much finer flavour than any of these last; and so likewise will a teaspoonful of really good mushroom-powder smoothly mixed with a slice of good butter, and a seasoning of fine salt and cayenne.†

Full-sized fowl, 1 hour: young chicken, 25 to 35 minutes.

Obs.β€”Ah we have already observed in our general remarks on roasting, the time must be regulated by various circumstances which we named, and which the cook should always take into consideration. A buttered paper should be fastened over the breast, and removed about fifteen minutes before the fowl is served: this will prevent its taking too much colour.

* This is done with many other roasts which are served in the second course but the vinegar is seldom added in this country.

† We cannot much recommend these mere superfluities of the table.