21 August 2013

Reed Bird Cuisine from the 1880s

Reed-bird Dumplings

Prepare very carefully one dozen or more reed-birds, wash them through several waters, and season with salt. black pepper, and dredge with flour; then make a light crust, as for apple dumplings, roil out a piece of moderate thickness about the size of a saucer, in which place two birds, and between them a small piece of butter and six large oysters; tie each dumpling in a cloth, drop them in boiling water, and let them cook for one hour; then take them from the cloths and send to table hot.

To Dress Reed Birds

Pick, open and wash carefully one dozen reed-birds, after which place them between the folds of a clean towel, and, with a rolling gin, mash the bones quite flat; then season with pepper and salt; put one or two tablespoons of butter into a small skillet, let the birds simmer slowly, basting them constantly, and holding the skillet so that they may brown. This is the richest way to serve the birds, or they may be prepared exactly as oysters for frying, or broiled on an oyster gridiron. In broiling place them over a clear fire, broiling the inside first, and when a light brown turn the gridiron. Serve on buttered toast, and baste them with butter, pepper and salt.

October 2, 1880. Washington D.C. Evening Star 56(8578): 7. From the Philadelphia Ledger.

Broiled Reed Birds

This way of cooking the reed bird, though it be simple, certainly ought to please the most fastidious palate: Pluck, draw and split the birds down the back, and place them on a folding wire broiler over a clear fire, turning them from side to side. When done send to the table immediately on a hot dish, pouring over them just before serving a little plain melted butter in which has been mixed a teaspoonful of Johnston's fluid beef.

September 27, 1884. Washington D.C. Evening Star 64(9805): 6. From the Caterer.