Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Four and Twenty Blackbirds

This recipe post was inspired by Rae over at Us In Tejas, so she can live in peace with her dove-hunting neighbors.

What I love about this recipe is the evidence that it was written at a time when the idea of standardized measurements was newfangled. That and the fact that I feel all Little-House-On-The-Prairie knowing I'm cooking something brought down by my own Man with a gun. I got it from my mother-in-law, and the recipe card she gave me notes that it came from Charleston Receipts (p. 141). I like that too -- I've never had a cited and footnoted recipe card before or since. I'm not kidding when I say that attribution of cooking authority is serious business around here.

[See -- again with the attribution]

12 partridges (dove, snipe, etc.)
1 bunch minced parsley
1 onion chopped fine
3 whole cloves
Salt & pepper to taste
1/2 lb. salt pork, diced
2T. browned flour
Butter size of an egg
1 pt. potatos, diced small
Rich pie crust

[my handwritten notes on the back of the card say: "Peggy says -can use up to 24 birds -a little bacon instead of salt pork - brown flour in a dry iron skillet." Another, later note: "COOK the potatos beforehand." ]

Split birds in half, put in saucepan with about 2 qts. of water.
[Note: birds have to be plucked, skinned, cleaned, and de-boned before you do this. I insist that the person who shot them do that part.]

When it boils, skim off all the scum, then add salt and pepper, parsley, onion, cloves, and salt pork. Let all boil until tender, using care that there be enough water to cover the birds.
Thicken with flour and let boil up. Stir in butter. Remove from fire [!] and let cool.

Line sides of a buttered pudding dish with the crust. [I think this means a pie plate -- deep dish works better. BTW I think "rich crust" means you make it with lots of lard. I don't know where to buy lard, and my historical geekiness does not extend to spending hours over the cauldron rendering pork and beef fat. So just use crisco, okay?]

Lay in birds, then some of the potatos, then birds and so on until the dish is full. Pour over the gravy. Put on the top crust with a split cut in the center and bake in hot oven 15-20 minutes.

Serves 12. [It's up to you to find 12 people who will eat dove.]


I have a friend who has an antique wood stove that he actually cooks on (he and his wife own a fantastic B&B, and he is a mega-history geek, and the results are awesome) and I am determined to cook this recipe in his stove some time. Probably in my 18th century re-enactment garb. Actually my 1850s outfit would be more appropriate. I'm sensing that this doesn't interest you.

A regular oven works just fine, too.

1 comment:

  1. Public cooking, much like public sex (yes, I understood the subtle reference), is one of those things I refuse to do. Rather than excite me, it makes me wildly nervous and I can't make anything come . . . out right.