1940s Archive

Carving is an Art

continued (page 2 of 2)

Small ducks may be cut, as we said before, with carving shears. If not, and you wish to serve more than one person, remove the legs and thighs with shears or a sharp knife and, with the aid of a small knife, cut through the breast at the center of the bird and under the meat along the frame of the duck until you have removed the breast in two pieces, leaving only the carcass and the wing bones. Then remove the wings and cut the carcass into as many pieces as you wish.

Wild goose is treated in very much the same fashion. You remove the legs and thighs and cut long, full slices from the breast. Finally, remove the wings and cut the carcass into the size of pieces you desire for serving. There is often a certain amount of discussion as to whether one slices the breast of goose from the center breastbone to the side, or whether one starts from the outside of the carcass and cuts toward the center bone, cutting flat, parallel slices. This is, I feel, a matter of personal preference, although one usually achieves more evenly matched and attractive slices by applying the second method. The construction of the goose makes it one of the most difficult of all birds to carve, and should your wild goose be a tough one, it is no mean task to accomplish perfect results.

Pheasant, on the other hand, is comparatively easy to manage. A good pheasant has a full breast which, if treated properly in cooking, will be juicy and firm-meated. With a small, sharp knife cut thin slices from the breast, cutting from the neck to the tail in long, careful strokes. You may then remove the legs and thighs at the joint and the wings at the joint and serve those if people desire them. However, the breast is the only portion of pheasant enjoyed by a great many people, so be especially solicitous in inquiring as to their particular likes and dislikes.

Game shears, of course, may be used to sever the legs and thighs and wings and to cut through the carcass.

The most generally accepted way of serving partridge or grouse is to cut it along the breast-bone, severing it completely, and serving each person half a partridge. This process is greatly simplified by the use of shears, although it may be achieved with a knife if you are an expert carver. Be very careful, however, not to use a delicately ground blade for cutting through the bone or you will ruin your fine cutlery. Use a heavier all-purpose knife for this, one that may be ground or sharpened at will.

Another way of carving a partridge is to cut away the wings and legs at the joints, then divide the bird into two pieces, the entire breast in one piece and the back in the second piece. You may sever the breast and the back if you wish.

A third method is to cut along the center breastbone and under the meat of the breast, thus removing the breast in two whole pieces. After this, remove the legs and thighs and wings. Many people, again, enjoy picking the backbone of a partridge, knowing that it has a most delightful and succulent flavor.

Grouse may be served halved with the aid of carving shears or sharp knives, or it may be cut into three serving pieces by cutting from the tail and to the head in three pieces, one of which includes the leg and thigh, the second including the wing, and the third being the bone and the meat on either side of it. I feel that grouse should be served either whole or halved.

Quail and other small birds of that type are practically always served whole, although if you wish to cut them, you will follow the rules for any small bird by cutting in equal halves with the aid of shears or with sharp knives as described in the carving of partridge. With quail we should mention woodcocks, snipes, pigeons, robins, and many other varieties of tiny birds which are usually served one to a person.

Wild turkey is, of course, treated in the same fashion as one would treat a domestic turkey and involves no special problem.

To carve a rabbit or hare is a fairly simple procedure. In this particular case, as in the case of some small birds, use the hands for a grip. This is preferred to a fork or holder because of the size of the animal. A good carver will often use his hand for a grip, contrary to many of the rules of etiquette laid down by those whose first idea is elegance rather than function. A rabbit or hare should be laid on its side; then, with the aid of the hand and fingers, sever a front leg at the joint and sever the back leg at the joint. Turn the rabbit or hare and repeat this process on the other side. After this, cut through the rib cage or lower part of the breast and discard it. You are then left with the back and what is known as the saddle. This should be cut through into two pieces. Thus you have six serving pieces from a rabbit.

My final plea about game carving is that you care for your tools and implements as if they were, as they are, precision instruments. Do not let tradition override you and prejudice you against shears, for not only will they ease your job but they will protect your fine cutlery. Keep your fine equipment as a thing apart, and use it for that purpose only. This may sound like a luxury, but in the long run it is exceedingly practical.

Good carving!

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