Category Archives: Poultry

Day 359: Roast Duck and Teetotallers’ Christmas Pudding with Caramel Sauce

Christmas Greetings from The Canadian Grocer magazine December 1898.

Christmas Greetings from The Canadian Grocer magazine December 1898.

Today is Christmas Day and I’m staying in my childhood home with my family. After mentioning a few weeks ago that I could get a farm fresh duck, it was decided that duck would be the fowl for Christmas dinner this year. So today I used the Roast Duck recipe in The New Galt Cook Book (1898) that Mrs. A. Taylor contributed. I also planned to serve Teetotallers’ Christmas Pudding with Caramel Sauce for dessert.

I picked up the duck from Amy a couple of days ago. It had led a happy life roaming around the farm before meeting its destiny. I didn’t need to singe or draw the bird but I did pick a few more pin feathers from it before removing the giblets (heart, lungs, and liver) and the neck and washing and drying the bird. I put the giblets and neck in a pot of water to boil. As soon as the giblets were cooked I removed them and left the neck to continue cooking.

Stuffing the duck before roasting

Stuffing the duck before roasting

Time to make the dressing. I chopped the giblets and also an onion into very small pieces. I put them in a frying pan with a bit of butter to fry. Meanwhile I had two slices of stale bread soaking in some milk. Once the onion and giblets were fried until the onions were slightly golden I squeezed the bread and poured off the milk. You might be wondering why I chose to soak the bread in milk. The recipe doesn’t mention what liquid to use so I decided milk might work well. I mixed the fried giblets and onions with the bread and then started wondering whether the bread was supposed to have been fried with the other things. I ended up putting it all back in the frying pan to see what would happen to the bread. I let it fry a tiny bit and decided that the bread wasn’t to be fried. I seasoned the dressing with salt, pepper and ground sage before putting it in the duck. I placed the bird (breast side up) on a rack in a shallow roasting pan and rubbed some salt and pepper into it.  I’d held back a bit of the onions and giblets and put them in the bottom of the roasting pan since I wasn’t sure if that was what was intended in the instructions. It is hard to get salt pork here so I decided to put pieces of bacon on top of the duck’s breast. I poured a cup of water in the bottom of the pan before I put it in the preheated oven. I decided to try roasting it at 375 F. since the instructions said a moderately hot oven.

Carving the Roast Duck

Carving the Roast Duck

My duck weighed 5.5 lbs so I thought roasting for 1 1/2 hours might not be long enough so I planned the rest of the meal to be ready no earlier than two hours from the moment the duck went into the oven. I checked it every half hour or so and attempted to baste it. I discovered their was an instant read thermometer in the house so I used that modern invention to confirm that the duck was cooked. It was in the oven for two hours before I removed it and set it aside to rest while I made the gravy.

Gravy made from the Roast Duck

Gravy made from the Roast Duck

To make the gravy I scraped some of the drippings from the roasting pan avoiding as much grease as possible and added it to the water used for boiling the neck and giblets. I made a paste of flour and water and then added some of the hot liquid duck juices to it. then I added the flour mixture to the juices in the pot, stirred and turned up the heat. I kept stirring to avoid lumps and seasoned this gravy with salt and pepper. It was time to bring to the table the Roast Duck on a platter ready to carve along with the gravy in a sauce-boat to enjoy with the rest of the meal (mashed potatoes, baked squash, stuffing, cranberry orange sauce, and salad). I’d also made the Potato Rolls from day 64. I cut the first slice from the duck and started serving everyone as they helped themselves to the rest of the food. We sat down to enjoy our Christmas dinner together and eventually report on the taste of the roast duck.

Once the duck was in the oven roasting I started preparing Teetotallers’ Christmas Pudding. I was stymied by the lack of currants and peel but decided to go ahead and make this recipe using two kinds of raisins and substituting crystallized ginger for the peel. Ginger appears in some other pudding recipes so it is appropriate if not completely accurate for this recipe. Again my lack of a kitchen scale meant I had to rely on conversions from the internet. It was soon obvious that I didn’t have enough ingredients to make the full recipe so I cut it in half. I put 1 pound (4 cups of sultana raisins in a bowl along with 1/2 pound (1 1/2 cups) of golden raisins instead of currants. One advantage of modern life is the availability of prepared suet. I didn’t have to do any chopping. I measured out 1 pound (3 3//4 cups) of suet and added it to the bowl. I stirred and then started preparing the rest of the ingredients. I added 1/4 pound (3/4 cup) brown sugar and then chopped 3 ounces (3/4 cup) of crystallized ginger before stirring it into the rest. I beat 3 eggs with 1/2 quart (2 cups) of milk and then poured it into the bowl. Once it was mixed I added 1/2 ounce of spice. I decided to use 1 tablespoon of cinnamon and 1/2 tablespoon of nutmeg. I stirred well as I added the last ingredient 1 1/4 pound (about 4 cups) flour. It was time to get this pudding steaming or boiling.

I thought I’d remembered my pudding mold but had to substitute a glass bowl with a good edge to tie down a cloth. I filled the bowl 3/4 full with some of the heavy pudding batter and then put cheesecloth over the top of the bowl. I held it in place by tying string around the edge of the bowl’s lip. I put the prepared bowl in a pot of water making sure the water came up to the level of the pudding but not over the top of the bowl. I put the lid on the pot and turned up the heat. I left it to boil for three hours topping up the water twice. I really wasn’t sure how long this pudding was to boil but guessed that three hours might be enough. After we’d eaten the main part of the meal and done some dishes I started to prepare the pudding sauce before removing the pudding from the pot of boiling water.

Teetotallers' Christmas Pudding and Caramel Sauce

Teetotallers’ Christmas Pudding and Caramel Sauce

I decided to try Mrs. A. Taylor’s recipe for Caramel Sauce thinking it might go well with this rather plain pudding. I put 1 cup of sugar in a heavy sauce pan and turned up the heat quite high. The cup of water was nearby so that I wouldn’t have to stop stirring. I kept stirring as the sugar quickly started to melt and turn colour. I kept stirring until it was completely liquid and a nice amber colour. I poured in the water and the sugar seized up but I kept stirring and soon it melted back to a brown liquid. I set the timer for two minutes and left it to boil while I started getting the pudding ready to serve. I carefully removed the bowl from the water and then cut the string to remove the cloth. I poured off a bit of liquid that was sitting on top. It seemed to be a bit of water and melted suet. I slid a knife around the edge of the bowl to loosen the pudding before unmolding it onto a plate that is a family heirloom. I poured the completed Caramel Sauce into a sauce-boat and gathered the family for dessert. My parents don’t drink alcohol so the Teetotallers’ Christmas Pudding was very suitable for our family Christmas dinner. I cut slices for everyone and poured on some sauce. It was time to taste.

Mrs. A. Taylor contributed quite a number of recipes including today’s roast duck and the caramel sauce recipe for the pudding. She is Scottish born Margaret “Maggie” Fisher wife of another Scottish immigrant Alfred Taylor. Her recipes cover a broad spectrum of the range available in the many chapters of The New Galt Cook Book. I’ve tried making fifteen of her contributions to the chapters on eggs, puddings, sauces, candy, soups, and cheese as well as other poultry recipes.

Mrs. Hunt of Speedsville shared her recipe for Teetotallers’ Christmas Pudding. Ironically I made her baked squash recipe on Day 50. Matilda Ann Hudson was born in England in 1836 and married James Hunt in 1858 when she was 21 years old. James and Matilda lived in Preston when they married but later lived in nearby Galt and Speedsville. Their only child a daughter named Violet V. Hunt was born in 1867. James was involved in the woolen industry but suddenly died of a heart attack in Speedsville in 1896. He was 61. Matilda died in 1913 of pneumonia.

Slices of Roast Duck with dressing and baked squash.

Slices of Roast Duck with dressing and baked squash.

So how did everything turn out? I’m sitting writing and digesting a good meal. Everyone tried the roast duck except my brother who’d once had a pet duck (something I’d completely forgotten). Those of us who prefer white meat when eating chicken or turkey weren’t as keen on the all dark duck meat but the other tasters really liked it. It wasn’t greasy as I’d feared. The skin was crispy and the meat very tender. The dressing was very moist and not nearly as fatty as I’d expected. It tasted good. The big surprise was the gravy. It was a success and popular! I normally make horrible gravy but this tasted like a wonderful mushroom gravy despite not containing any mushrooms. The giblets must have been the mystery element that gave it a mushroom flavour. I’d added some chopped orange when I made the typical cranberry sauce and it went very well with the duck. The potato rolls were also a big hit.

Teetotallers' Christmas Pudding

Teetotallers’ Christmas Pudding

The Teetotallers’ Christmas Pudding was okay. Everyone ate their serving and the substitution of ginger worked very well — better than peel. The pudding is a bit stodgy. It isn’t very sweet – a plus when there are so many sweets available at this time of year. The Caramel Sauce tasted great with this pudding (and so did the preserved pears with ginger I made two days ago). I might try frying a slice tomorrow for breakfast. I hear it is a good way to enjoy steamed puddings in the days to come… and considering how much pudding is left we are going to have to get creative to use it up.

ROAST DUCK
Mrs. A. Taylor

Singe, draw, wash thoroughly, wipe dry and fill with the following dressing: Two slices stale bread soaked and squeezed dry, a small onion chopped fine, season with salt, pepper and sage, boil the giblets, strain, chop fine, mix all and fry a light brown, place in pan with some slices salt pork on the breast, put a small cup of water in pan, baste frequently, have a moderately hot oven, roast an hour and half, thicken the gravy with a spoonful of flour stirred smooth together.

 

TEETOTALLERS’ CHRISTMAS PUDDING
Mrs. Hunt, Speedsville

Pick and stone two pounds good raisins, pick, wash and dry one pound currants, chop two pounds beef suet. Have ready half pound brown sugar, six ounces candied peel — them, two and a half pounds flour, six eggs, one quart or more milk, one ounce mixed spice and one tablespoonful salt. Mix rather stiff. Use with or without sauce.

 

CARAMEL SAUCE
Mrs. A. Taylor

One cupful granulated sugar, one cupful water. Put the sugar into an iron saucepan; stir with a wooden spoon, over a quick fire, until the sugar melts and turns an amber color, then add the water, let boil two minutes and turn out to cool.

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Day 123: Chicken Pot Pie

I bought a stewing chicken at the market this morning thinking there were several more recipes in The New Galt Cook Book (1898) that required simmering a chicken for hours. In fact most of the chicken recipes are for fried or fricasseed chicken. I decided to try Mrs. A. Taylor’s recipe for Chicken Pot Pie.

The first direction says to stew a nice chicken. What is a nice chicken? One that is polite? Does this mean a healthy chicken? A fresh chicken? One that is large? I’m using an anonymous chicken from the market. The sign in the display case said it was an older Leghorn. I put it whole in a pot of cold water and left it to simmer for several hours. Once it seemed cooked I removed the chicken and continued with the rest of the recipe. I added some salt and pepper to the broth and created a paste of 1 tablespoon of flour and 1 tablespoon of butter. I found it challenging to add this paste to the broth without ending up with lumps. I think it would be better to add some of the broth slowly to the paste to create a warm liquid and then stir it in. I ended up thickening with a bit of corn starch. Next I put the squares of biscuit dough in on top of the hot liquid. I made an ordinary biscuit. I soon discovered that the biscuits need to be a bit thicker or sturdier than mine as they started to disintegrate at the edges after a few minutes of boiling. I left them in and eventually they became more like flat dumplings. I put some chicken, gravy and biscuit on a plate to sample.

Mrs. A. Taylor contributed many recipes so I’ve talked about her a few times including on day 88 . For a woman involved in creating this cook book  I struggle with her recipes. Sometimes it is my fault either I’ve made a mistake or I’ve misinterpreted her recipe but other times she just shares strange recipes. Also some of the recipes don’t have clear instructions. I wonder if she was a good cook? Margaret “Maggie” Fisher married Alfred Taylor and had three children. In 1898 she was approaching her 50th birthday. Her eldest son had died of pneumonia 12 years ago when he nine and the remaining two children lived at home.

Mrs. Taylor has another recipe for Chicken Pot Pie that appears just under the first. I’d decided to do the same below as the recipes are very similar except for the final plating. Instead of boiling the biscuits in the gravy, baked biscuits are placed on the plate alongside the chicken and then gravy is spooned over top. I think this would be a much better version. I ended up with something I’d consider chicken and dumplings rather than pot pie. Even if the biscuits were baked first and then placed on top of the gravy it would resemble a slightly more familiar version of pot pie. My verdict with Mrs. A. Taylor’s first version of chicken pot pie is don’t bother. Make your usual chicken and dumplings or try her second version instead.

CHICKEN POT PIE
Mrs. A. Taylor

Stew gently a nice chicken. Season with salt and pepper and thicken the gravy with a tablespoonful of flour, mixed smooth with a piece of butter, size of an egg. Have  ready some biscuit dough cut in pieces an inch square; drop this into the gravy, having previously removed the chicken to a hot platter. Boil fifteen minutes. Lay on the platter with the chicken, pour over the gravy and serve.

 

CHICKEN POT PIE

Mrs. A. Taylor

Have ready biscuit dough cut in square pieces, and bake in the oven. Split them and put on a platter, and our your gravy over them, putting chicken in the centre.

 

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Day 55: Chicken Broth and How to Draw a Fowl

Stewing Chicken

Stewing Chicken

I bought a chicken at the Kitchener Market on Saturday. It was labeled as a stewing hen and an old one at that, so it is perfect for making a rich tasting chicken broth. Stocks and broth are an important base for some of the savoury recipes in The New Galt Cook Book (1898). Although today we can buy a carton or can of broth, homemade was the main option at the end of the 19th century. I’m using Mrs. A. Taylor‘s recipe for Chicken Broth but I’m also going to share some of the information about Poultry from The New Galt Cook Book including How to Draw a Fowl. That is not about art but about butchering. No contributor is attributed to this information.

How do you buy chicken? Today we have a number of choices when buying chicken but the one most of us never see, at least not in Waterloo Region, is the opportunity to turn a live chicken into supper. We don’t even see poultry that resembles the bird. There are no feathers on our chickens and unless you enter some specialty stores poultry doesn’t even have feet or heads. Many people buy chicken parts — a package of boneless breast, chicken wings, or thighs — rather than a whole roasting or stewing bird.

One of the most memorable meals I ever had was in the north-eastern part of Thailand. Everything served had been grown, raised and cooked right there by the farmer — an amazing woman raising a family on her own — and that included the chicken. It had been running around the yard a short time before it became supper. The feathers and blood were saved and each part of the bird was cooked including the feet.

Chicken in the pot

Chicken in the pot

In the 1890s the chicken dinner could come from the yard or from a butcher shop or market stall like this at the Berlin Ontario Market. The information about how to Draw a Fowl would be useful for anyone who was buying a live or partially prepared chicken like in this photo from the Byward Market in Ottawa in the 1920s. Fortunately the chicken I bought had been killed, plucked, and cleaned (drawn) so I just needed to cut it up — a more challenging task than I expected. A sharp knife is important and I found it difficult to cut through the skin. I realized that I’ve always cut a chicken after it was cooked. I managed to split it open and partially remove the wings and legs. I put the chicken in a stewing pot and added 6 cups (3 pints) of cold water. I put the pot on the stove and turned the heat to medium.

Chicken and rice

Chicken and rice

I measured half a cup of rice and put it in with the chicken. I decided to use rice in honour of that long ago chicken meal in Thailand. I added a few shakes of salt and covered the pot. I turned the heat down and left it to simmer for one hour. Close your eyes and imagine the smell — a very nice chicken soup smell. After an hour, I removed the chicken to a plate and poured the broth in a large bowl. I had to scoop some of the rice out of the chicken. I added pepper to the broth and put a bit of butter on the plated chicken. It was time for sampling.

Mrs. A. Taylor contributed many recipes and I’ve already made several of them. Until her marriage to Alfred Taylor a dry goods merchant she was known as Maggie (Margaret) Fisher. By the time this cook book appears she is a well established Galt matron living in a lovely home on Grand Avenue in Galt. Her card is one of the visiting cards saved by the Stirling McGregor family and donated to the Cambridge Archives. Just imagine her coming out of her home to pay a call on Mrs. McGregor. You can see the house here.

Chicken Broth

Chicken Broth

I’m not sure how Mrs. A. Taylor (Maggie) served her chicken broth but it is very good. This sort of simple soup could be served at the beginning of a family or company meal. There’s nothing really different about it but it is nice to know everything that went into the broth. I don’t know the history of the chicken but at least I know the rest of the ingredients. This broth makes a good base for other soup recipes and it is basically chicken and rice soup. The rice was starting to get mushy. Add it a little later in the cooking time if you prefer a firmer rice in your soup.

Chicken with butter

Chicken with butter

The chicken meat however was tough. I think it needs to cook longer than one hour indicated in Mrs. A.Taylor’s recipe. The chicken was cooked but wasn’t tender. Give the Chicken Broth recipe a try if you can find a flavourful chicken and be grateful you don’t need the other recipes.

POULTRY

To judge the age of a fowl touch the end of the breast bone; if it bends easily from side to side the fowl is young.
The skin of the chicken should be firm, smooth and white.
If a fowl is tough rub it inside with a teaspoonful of baking soda, being careful to wipe it off before cooking it; it is also good for tough meat.
Lumps of charcoal put with fowls when they are a little tainted will restore the flavor.
Slices of lemon cut into small pieces and stirred into drawn butter and allowed to come to the boiling point, served with fowl is a fine addition.
The inside of poultry should be ribbed with salt after it is drawn.

TO DRAW A FOWL

It is not every housekeeper that understands how to draw a fowl so that all the interior parts come out in one piece. In order to do this, first split the skin on the back of the neck and turn it back over the neck. Loosen the pipes around the neck with the finger. Remove all fat that can be reached under the skin and lay it aside for use. When this is done, cut with a sharp-pointed knife from the leg to and around the vent, in order to open the chicken. Pass the hand up the back of the chicken on the inside carefully till you reach two little ligaments near the wings, which seem to bind the intestines down to the back. Loosen them and pull slowly and firmly, and all the pipes in the neck, with the entire mass of intestines, will come out together without breaking. When they are on a plate it is easy enough to cut out the gall bladder and separate the liver and other giblets from the parts that are to be thrown away. The fat of poultry should always be taken out of the bird, because it gives a strong taste if cooked in it, but it should be saved, as it has many uses in cookery, except in the case of turkeys, geese and ducks, when it is too strong. Goose oil is saved for medicinal purposes by prudent mothers, and that of turkeys and ducks may well be added to the soap-fat can.

CHICKEN BROTH
Mrs. A. Taylor

One chicken, three pints of water half a teacupful of pearl barley or rice, pepper and salt. Cut up the chicken put it in the cold water with the barley or rice and salt, cover it close and let it simmer for an hour, add pepper to your taste. The chicken my be placed on a plate with pieces of butter over it.

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Day 39: Cream Chicken

I bought two stewing hens at the Kitchener Market today. I’d planned to make chicken soup but discovered a recipe for Cream Chicken in The New Galt Cook Book (1898) and decided to try it instead. Mrs. H. Howell contributed the recipe.

Two chickens in the pot.

Two chickens in the pot.

I started by stewing the chickens. I washed the two chickens and then put them in a pot with enough water to cover them. I turned the heat low, covered the pot, and left it alone for two hours. I checked a few times and topped up the water once.

Stewed Chicken

Stewed Chicken

I removed the cooked chickens and started picking them apart discarding bones and skins and keeping the meat. I ended up with about three cups of meat. I chopped it up into chunks and continued with the rest of the recipe.

Chopped Mushrooms

Chopped Mushrooms

I had no idea what canned mushrooms would be like in 1898. Is this home or commercially canned? What size container? I decided to use modern canned mushrooms and use an amount suitable to the quantity of chicken. I discovered I didn’t have a can of mushrooms so I decided to use some fresh mushrooms from the fridge. I took a handful and chopped them finely as indicated in the recipe. I mixed them in with the chicken and sprinkled everything with a half teaspoon of salt and the same of pepper.

Parsley

Parsley

I chopped some parsley and mixed it in too. I’m not sure if Mrs. Howell was able to obtain parsley in the winter. This was a wealthy family so the could probably get it through a green house or simply keep a pot growing in a window all winter.

Mrs. H. Howell is Frances Annie Dodd. She was born in Queenstown Australia in 1862. Her future husband Henry Spencer Howell was born in Galt Ontario. For some reason he went to Australia where he met and married Frances in 1883. Henry’s father Daniel owned a woolen mill. Henry returned to Canada with his new wife and they soon had one son Laurence. After the death of his father they lived with Henry’s mother Sarah at Stonyhurst. She also contributed recipes to the cook book. According to a book called Cambridge Mosaic, Henry was quite the world traveller and even wrote a book about his travels called Island Paradise and Reminiscences of Travel. The second edition of his book can be read here.

Then in the summer of 1908 when she was 46 years old Frances became sick. She died in December of heart failure as the result of tuberculosis of the bowels according to her death certificate. The next month Henry’s mother died. The following month Frances and Henry’s son Laurence married and he and his wife lived with his father until his death in 1912. Henry was in his fifties when he died from a gunshot while cleaning his old Enfield rifle. All this tragedy was in the future when Frances shared her recipe for Cream Chicken.

Cream Chicken ready to eat.

Cream Chicken ready to eat.

I did not have high expectations for Cream Chicken but was pleasantly surprised. This is a simple and delicious recipe. Cream Chicken tastes amazing and it is very easy to envision it in a modern context. It is fine as is but could be enhanced by sauteing the mushrooms a little before adding to the chicken. Using another  fresh herb instead of parsley could make this dish even better. I think I used just a little too much pepper but you can season to your taste.

I wonder how Frances served Cream Chicken. It would be easy for her mother in law to eat if her teeth were not in good shape. It would also suit a ladies luncheon and yet it is hearty enough to please her husband and son. What was served with it? What are you going to serve with Cream Chicken? I’m going to make this again. This is another recipe that time travels from the 19th century to the 21st with ease.

CREAM CHICKEN
Mrs. H. Howell

Stew two chickens until tender, remove bones and skin, chop rather coarsely, season with salt and pepper and a little parsley, add one can of mushroom and take two small cups of the liquid of the chicken and thicken with a little corn starch and put in a dish. spread over the top very fine bread crumbs and brown in the oven. Cut up mushroom fine.

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