28 March 2010

La Première Année de Cuisine, Part 6



How to prepare a chicken for roasting

I hardly have time today to write a few lines here. I have a big job in the kitchen: to prepare two chickens that we are going to roast this evening. It’s no small affair. I am going to tell here how I intend to go about it. Maman has shown me well other times how it must be done, but I have a great deal of self-respect and I would quite like, today, to be able to manage all by myself.

First I will pluck the chickens, then I will bleed them by making an incision along one of the thighs. I will take care not to crush the gall bladder in removing the intestines, since that would give the chicken a very bad taste, and I would be obliged to wash the inside of the chicken and to rub it with lemon juice in order to make it edible.

I will carefully set aside the gizzards and the liver that I will use later. Then I will flame the two chickens, to remove the least little fragments of down and of feathers that are attached to the skin. To do this, since we do not have an open fire and only a simple kitchen stove, I will burn a piece of paper in the opening of the oven and I will place the chicken above the flame.

For example, I must not be scatter-brained and allow the skin of my bird to grill, as I did the first time I tried. I will pay close attention this time, and I hope to succeed.

After this, I will truss the chicken, since I have learned how to truss a chicken. You say that this is quite difficult? … No, it’s enough to have a bit of dexterity. I turn the wings of the chicken in such a way that the wingtips lie flat against the back; I cut the legs [the lower part, including the claws], because that is easier; I pull the head of the chicken backward; I press it against the back; I hold all that in place with a string which I wrap several times around the chicken. In this way my bird will have a pretty shape, quite regular, quite rounded.

That’s how I’m going to do it. I’ve got to run now!


Madeleine is happy.

I am quite happy: My chickens are well plucked, well cleaned, well flamed, well trussed. There’s nothing left but to skewer them, to let them roast … and to eat them. This last part of the operation won’t be the least pleasant.

[To copy and to keep]

1. I will use only a bit of spice in cooking, in order to avoid indispositions and illnesses caused by cooking that is overburdened with pepper, with vinegar, with garlic, with pickles, with mustard.

2. When I prepare a sauce with leftover meat that is already cooked, I won’t add the pieces until ten minutes or a quarter-hour before serving, so that they won’t toughen.

3. When I make a roux, I will stir it all the time over the fire, without leaving it for a minute, until it has taken a beautiful reddish color. Then I will remove it from the flame so that it doesn’t turn black.

4. I will remember that mushrooms must not be added to sauces until a few minutes before serving.

5. I will not forget that good sauces are those that are cooked gently and for a long time.

6. When I make a soup, a potage, a sauce, I will always taste at some point before serving.

Madeleine’s stove probably looked much like this one.

Cooking foods

44. To cook good food, it’s necessary to manage the fire with care and intelligence, since there are dishes that must cook fast, others that must cook slowly, and we ruin everything is the fire is too high or not high enough, accordingly.

45. The foods that should be cooked over high flame are those that we roast, grill, fry.
Those that should be cooked over low flame are stews, sauces, smothered meats.

46. The foods that we boil will be good only if the water or the sauce in which they are cooking never stops boiling for as long as the cooking lasts.

47. Roasts are cooked on a skewer, that is simply speared and turning before an open fire, or else placed in a rotisserie before a fire of hot coals.

We also roast in the oven; but the meats cooked in this manner are never as delicate as those that are cooked on a skewer.

At the butcher shop.
Doesn’t it look as if the woman at the center is pleading for mercy for the lamb on the counter? I think she’s already too late.

48. Whatever the manner in which we roast, here are the general rules to observe in the conduct of a roast:
1. We should immediately expose the roast to a high flame so that it will seize, that is to say grill lightly on its surface;
2. We turn the roast toward the fire on each of its sides successively, in such a manner that there is no place that is not perfectly browned;
3. We don’t let the fire die down during the cooking time;
4. We baste with the liquid that falls from the roast and that mixes with the butter or the grease in which we take care to prepare the roast before placing it on the fire.
5. We salt the roast ten minutes before serving, but we don’t base it again until the salt is perfectly melted and it has penetrated into the meat.

49. We need:
A quarter-hour per pound to cook beef and mutton;
Twenty to twenty-five minutes per pound for veal and poultry;
A good half-hour per pound for pork and game.

50. We can tell that the roast is cooked rare when it gives to the touch and when it releases a slight steam.

51. When it is necessary to roast in the oven, it is good to avoid that the roast bathe in its own juice. For this we procure for ourselves a grill which we place on top of the roasting pan, and on top of which we place the roast.

52. Grilled meats are cooked on the grill, above a coal fire that is very hot. During the cooking, we fan the fire, either with a bellows, or with a paper fan, so that it retains its vivacity, which it might lose as the grease drips from the meat.

53. Frying oil is a fatty liquid (butter, grease, oil) which one places over a high flame and in which we throw the food when it is very hot. Thus the foods which are plunged into it will take on a beautiful golden tint and become crispy.

High-frying, adored

54. We fail at frying:
1. If the grease is too hot at the moment when we add the foods;
2. If the grease is not hot enough;
3. If it does not keep an even temperature throughout the cooking time;
4. If we leave that which we wish to fry in the grease either not long enough or too long.

55. We can tell that the frying liquid is hot enough when it begins to smoke and when it no longer sizzles [sings]. Beyond this, we must always test it by throwing into it a small piece of breadcrumb. If the bread instantaneously turns golden, without blackening, the cooking oil is ready.

56. Cooking by smothering is done in a hermetically sealed pot over a low flame.

Meat which is prepared this way renders its moisture while cooking slowly; thus we have no need to add water to the butter or grease we used at the beginning. The steam released by the meat is sufficient.

During cooking, we turn the meat several times, basting it in its liquid.

It is not always recommended to play with a cat while you are plucking a chicken.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This is such fun! Keep them coming, please.