The following is all I know about cooking squirrels. First catch your squirrel. Skin him, etc. Parboil in a little water in a kettle, add salt, pepper, and enough butter to fry it brown. Then eat. If the animal is tough parboil a little more till he is tender.
Clean and wash the grouse. Lard the breast and legs. Run a small skewer into the legs and through the tail. Tie firmly with twine. Dredge with salt, and rub the breast with soft butter; then dredge thickly with flour. Put into a quick oven. If to be very rare, cook twenty minutes; if wished better done, thirty minutes. The former time, as a general thing, suits gentlemen better, but thirty minutes is preferred by ladies. If the birds are cooked in a tin-kitchen, it should be for thirty or thirty-five minutes. When done, place on a hot dish, on which has been spread bread sauce. Sprinkle fried crumbs over both grouse and sauce. Garnish with parsley. The grouse may, instead, be served on a hot dish, with the parsley garnish, and the sauce and crumbs served in separate dishes. The first method is the better, however, as you get in the sauce all the gravy that comes from the birds.
Pluck and draw the birds, rub a little butter over them, tie a strip of bacon over the breasts, and set them in the oven for twenty to twenty-five minutes.
Choose young birds, with dark-colored bills and yellowish legs, and let them hang a few days, or there will be no flavor to the flesh, nor will it be tender. The time they should be kept entirely depends on the taste of those for whom they are intended, as what some persons would consider delicious, would be to others disgusting and offensive. They may be trussed with or without the head, the latter mode being now considered the most fashionable. Pluck, draw, and wipe the partridge carefully inside and out; cut off the head, leaving sufficient skin on the neck to skewer back; bring the legs close to the breast, between it and the side-bones, and pass a skewer through the pinions and thick part of the thighs. When the head is left on, it should be brought round and fixed on to the point of the skewer. When the bird is firmly and plumply trussed, roast it before a nice bright fire; keep it well basted, and a few minutes before serving, flour and froth it well. Dish it, and serve with gravy and bread-sauce, and send to table hot and quickly. A little of the gravy should be poured over the bird.
Pick them immediately; wipe them, and season them slightly with pepper and salt. Cut as many slices of bread as you have birds. Toast them brown, butter them, and lay them in the pan. Dredge the birds with flour, and put them in the oven with a brisk fire. Baste them with lard, or fresh butter. They will be done in twenty or thirty minutes. Serve them up laid on the toast, and garnished with sliced orange, or with orange jelly.
Draw and wash the inside very carefully, as with all game. Domestic fowls are, or should be, kept up without eating for at least twelve hours before they are killed; but we must shoot wild when we can get the chance, and of course it often happens that their crops are distented by a recent hearty meal of rank or green food. Wipe the cavity with a dry soft cloth before you stuff. Have a rich force-meat, bread-crumbs, some bits of fat pork, chopped fine, pepper, and salt. Moisten with milk, and beat in an egg and a couple of tablespoonfuls of melted butter. Baste with butter and water for the first hour, then three or four times with gravy; lastly, five or six times with melted butter. A generous and able housekeeper told me once that she always allowed a pound of butter for basting a large wild turkey. This was an extravagant quantity, but the meat is drier than that of the domestic fowl, and not nearly so fat. Dredge with flour at the last, froth with butter, and when he is of a tempting brown, serve. Skim the gravy, add a little hot water, pepper, thicken with the giblets chopped fine and browned flour, boil up, and pour into a tureen.
Parboil as above directed; throw away the carrot or onion, lay in fresh water half an hour; stuff with breadcrumbs seasoned with pepper, salt, sage, and onion, and roast until brown and tender, basting for half the time with butter and water, then with the drippings. Add to the gravy, when you have taken up the ducks, a teaspoonful of currant jelly, and a pinch of cayenne. Thicken with browned flour and serve in a tureen.
Nearly all wild ducks are liable to have a fishy flavor, and when handled by inexperienced cooks, are sometimes uneatable from this cause. Before roasting them guard against this by parboiling them with a small carrot, peeled, put within each. This will absorb the unpleasant taste. An onion will have the same effect; but, unless you mean to use onion in the stuffing, the carrot is preferable. In my own kitchen, I usually put in the onion, considering a suspicion of garlic a desideratum in roast duck, whether wild or tame.
Clean and truss three or four pigeons, rub the outside and in with a mixture of pepper and salt; rub the inside with a bit of butter, and fill it with a bread-and-butter stuffing, or mashed potatoes; sew up the slit, butter the sides of a tin basin or pudding-dish, and line (the sides only,) with pie paste, rolled to quarter of an inch thickness; lay the birds in; for three large tame pigeons, cut quarter of a pound of sweet butter and put it over them; strew over a large teaspoonful of salt, and a small teaspoonful of pepper, with a bunch of finely cut parsley, if liked; dredge a large tablespoonful of wheat flour over; put in water to nearly fill the pie; lay skewers across the top, cover with a puff paste crust; cut a slit in the middle, ornament the edge with leaves, braids, or shells of paste, and put it in a moderately hot or quick oven, for one hour; when nearly done, brush the top over with the yolk of an egg beaten with a little milk, and finish. The pigeons for this pie may be cut in two or more pieces, if preferred.
Any small birds may be done in this manner.
Wash and truss one dozen pigeons. Put them in a kettle with four pounds of the shank of veal, six cloves, twenty-five pepper-corns, an onion that has been fried in one spoonful of butter, one stalk of celery, a bouquet of sweet herbs and four and a half quarts of water. Have the veal shank broken in small pieces. As soon as the contents of the kettle come to a boil, skim carefully, and set for three hours where they will just simmer. After they have been cooking one hour, add two tablespoonfuls of salt. When the pigeons are done, take them up, being careful not to break them, and remove the strings. Draw the kettle forward, where it will boil rapidly, and keep there for forty minutes; then strain the liquor through a napkin, and taste to see if seasoned enough. The water should have boiled down to two and a half quarts. Have two moulds that will each hold six pigeons. Put a thin layer of the jelly in these, and set on ice to harden. When hard, arrange the pigeons in them, and cover with the jelly, which must be cold, but liquid. Place in the ice chest for six or, better still, twelve hours. There should be only one layer of the pigeons in the mould.