Mrs. Beeton's Book of Household Management/Chapter LX



Trussing may be said to be one of the most important arts in connexion with cookery. In London and other large towns where so much, if not all, the poultry and game is sent out ready prepared for cooking, many cooks do not make it a study; but it ought, nevertheless, to be a part of the education of each one. Realizing the importance of this branch of the cook's art, and knowing how difficult it is to learn from written instructions, we have prepared a series of illustrations to practically show the various stages in the preparation of game and poultry for different modes of cooking. To obtain these and to ensure their being reliable guides for the uninitiated, we secured the services of a very experienced trusser. The latter, taking each bird or animal in turn, demonstrated the manner of drawing, trussing, etc., at each stage of which a photograph was taken, so that by studying these the amateur will be able to acquire the proper method. Skewers are not now used for trussing fowls and similar small birds, which are always trussed with a needle and twine. This mode not only facilitates the carving, but avoids serving a dish rendered unsightly by skewers or skewer holes. Trussing needles, made of iron, are obtainable from any ironmonger. They are very similar to packing needles—strong and straight, about 9 inches long.


Hold the bird in the left hand, and commence to pull off the feathers from under the wing. Having plucked one side, take the other wing and proceed in the same manner until all the feathers are removed.

Poultry feeders usually pluck birds immediately after killing, because the feathers are more easily withdrawn before the flesh stiffens. Another way is to plunge the bird into hot, but not boiling, water for about one minute, and immediately pull out the feathers. But this is a rather risky method, for if the bird be left too long in the water, the skin becomes tender, apt to be easily torn, and the appearance is thus spoiled.


Hold the bird by the neck with the left hand, and with the right hand singe off the down with a lighted paper, moving it quickly so as not to scorch the bird; those parts that will be hidden after the bird is trussed must be most carefully gone over, but it is usual to again singe after trussing. In large kitchens there is sometimes a gas-tube, which is very convenient for singeing poultry, and avoids to some extent any chance of burning or scorching during the operation; but a lighted paper carefully used is all that is actually necessary.

It is useless to expect singeing to take away the feathers that have been left in through careless plucking; if any should appear, they must be pulled out, not singed off, otherwise they will impart a disagreeable odour of burnt feathers to the bird.


Birds are invariably plucked and singed before boning, but not drawn. The crop, however, should be removed, the wings and legs cut off at the first joint, and the tendons of the legs carefully drawn at the same time. To bone the bird, use a small sharp knife, and first remove the merry-thought at the—neck a very simple matter. This done, cut the skin down the centre of the back and raise the flesh carefully on either side, sever the wing joints, and continue to detach the flesh, keeping the blade of the knife close to the bone. When the legs are reached, dislocate the joints, cut the connecting tendons, but both wings and legs intact until the breast and back bones have been removed, together with the viscera. Turn the body completely inside out; take the thigh bones of one of the legs in the left hand and strip the flesh downwards. Repeat this until all the small bones are removed. The bird may then be turned right side out again, when it will be found completely boned and should be quite whole.

Both large and small birds may be boned in this way. They are then stuffed, re-shaped and trussed, or rolled into galantines.

3935—TO DRAW POULTRY. (Trussing Illustration Nos. 1 and 2.)

In order to draw a bird properly, it is well to know where to find the different parts of the inside. Trussing Illustration No. 1, Fig. 1, shows a fowl cut in half. The different organs can be seen in the positions they occupy. Fig. 2 shows the inside of the bird when drawn. the bird back downwards upon the table, and cut off the ends of the pinions. Then turn the bird breast downwards, and cut a long slit in the back of the neck, in the manner shown in Trussing Illustration. 2, Fig. 1; pass the knife under the skin, cut off the neck at its junction with the body, taking care not to cut through the under skin of the neck in this motion. Then cut through the skin of the back of the neck at the place where the first incision was made and through the underneath skin about three inches from the breast, leaving the two flaps of neck skin to fold over the jagged opening (see Figs. 2 and 3), and draw out the neck. Then take out the crop, and well loosen the entrails by placing the forefinger inside the body, and working it round from left to right (see Fig. 4). Put the fowl on the table tail upwards and make a deep cut straight across the body between the tail and the vent. The vent can then be easily cut out, and the opening will be found sufficiently large to enable the fingers to be put inside the bird to take hold of the gizzard, etc. (see Fig. 5), and if the loosening at the other end has been properly performed, the whole of the inside of the fowl can be easily drawn away in one mass. Care should be taken not to draw away the fat on gizzard. This can be felt with the fingers and may be easily left inside the bird.

Be very careful not to break the gall-bladder, for this accident may ruin the bird by imparting a very bitter taste to the flesh. Now wipe out the inside with a clean cloth, but do not wash the bird, unless any part of the inside has been broken in drawing; dip the legs of the bird in boiling water, scrape them, and cut off the claws.

3936.—TO TRUSS A FOWL FOR ROASTING. (Trussing Illustration No. 3.)

Place the fowl upon the table as shown in illustration, and pass the needle and string through the centre of the fowl, just above the thigh-bone, exactly in the centre of the two joints (see Fig. 1), leaving the end of the string protruding from the place where the needle entered the bird. Turn the fowl over on to its breast, and carrying the twine on, pass it in a slanting direction between the two centre bones of the wing, catching the underneath part of the pinion (see Fig. 2), and then over the bird through the pinion and then the wing of the other side, and the string will come out near the point where it first entered the fowl; then tie the two ends together, but not too tightly or the bird will not lie flat on the dish (Fig. 3). Next take the fowl in the left hand, breast downwards, and pass the needle and twine through the back, close to the end of the thigh-bones (Fig. 4); put the legs into position shown, turn the fowl on its back, and carry the string over the leg and then through the breast, catching up a small portion of the bone as the needle passes through. Take the string on over the other leg and tie the ends together, and the bird will be ready for roasting (see Fig. 5).

Now again singe the bird, going over it very carefully, so that no feathers remain; then, after cleaning and washing the gizzard and liver, put one in each of the pinions.

3937.—TO TRUSS A FOWL FOR BOILING. (Trussing Illustration No. 4.)

It is generally found more difficult for a beginner to truss a fowl for boiling than for roasting, for in loosening the skin and drawing it over the bone it is very easy to tear it.

Loosen the skin of the leg by placing the two first fingers of the hand inside the body, and working round the leg as shown (Fig. 1). Make a cut in the drumstick of the fowl, about half an inch from the hock (Fig. 2), to prevent the bone from breaking under the next operation. Turn the shank inward on to the back of the fowl (Fig. 3), and draw the skin of the leg over the hock, tucking the joint into the body (as in Fig. 4). Next cut off the shank about half an inch above the foot, i.e., cutting oft all the leg and foot that shows in Fig. 4. Sew with needle and string as for roasted fowl (see Fig. 5).

3938.—TO TRUSS A TURKEY. (Trussing Illustration No. 5.)

Turkeys are plucked and signedin exactly the same manner as fowls, but before trussing draw the sinews. To do this, break the leg bones close to the feet, run them on a hook placed in the wall (above you, so that weight as well as strength can b t to bear), and draw out the sinews as shown in Fig. 1. This is sometimes rather a hard task, but it must be done or the legs will be uneatable. Next cut off the neck close to the back as directed in Recipe No. 3935, leav ing enough skin to turn over it. and loosen the liver and the rest of the inside at the throat end. Cut off the vent, takeout the gut and draw the bird with a hook sold for this purpose. Take great care not to break the gut joining the gizzard, for fear of grit, or the gall bladder, which, if broken, would make the flesh bitter.

Next dry the inside thoroughly. Cut the breastbone through at each side close to the back, beat it flat with a wooden rolling-pin, then place the pinions as shown in illustration, and skewer (Figs. 2 and 3).

Press the legs close to the body and skewer at first and second joints, and the turkey will now be ready for stuffing.

Having filled the bird with the forcemeat (the fuller the better and neater it will look), skewer over the flap of skin, also that at the neck.

Turn the bird most and put a string across and across as shown, except in the case of a very small turkey, when it will not be required.

As with a fowl, a boned turkey has sometimes the legs put inside, is needed; and the aim is not to preserve its form but to make it present a a broad smooth surface that is easy to carve

3939.—TO TRUSS A GOOSE OR DUCK. (Trussing Illustration No. 5, Fig. 5.)

Geese and ducks are prepared, drawn and trussed in the same manner as fowls and turkeys, except that the wings or pinions are cut off at the first joint. The feet of a goose are nearly always removed, but those of a duck are just as frequently left on, the tips of the toes alone being cut off.

Having well plucked and singed the bird, cut off the feet at the joint, the pinions at the first joint, and the neck close to the back, as directed for fowls, leaving enough skin to turn over the back. Next loosen the inside at the throat end. Cut the bird open between the vent and the rump and draw; then wipe out the bird and very carefully flatten the breastbone with a rolling-pin, taking care not to break the bone into splinters. Put a skewer through the under part of one wing and bring it through the other, as shown in Fig. 5. Skewer the legs by passing the skewer through the first joint and carrying it through the body so as to secure the other. Always remove the merry-thought from a duck or a goose.


When plucking leave the breast feather for removal afterwards, in order to prevent the skin being broken in trussing.

First, cut off the head, leaving enough skin to skewer back, loosen the inside at neck and squeeze out and wipe the inside of the bird.

Secondly, bring the legs close to the breast, between it and the side bones, and pass a needle through the pinions and the thick part of the thighs, tie round, then take off the breast feathers with the aid of a knife, thus avoiding the breaking of the skin.

Partridges and pheasants are trussed in the same manner, but the latter are large enough for the passage of the hand and can be drawn in the same way as a fowl.

3941.—TO TRUSS A PIGEON. (Trussing Illustration No. 3, Figs. 6 and 7.)

First pluck and draw the bird, wash it very thoroughly and wipe perfectly dry. Then cut off the neck and head, and the toes at the first joint. Truss for roasting by crossing the legs and running a trussing needle and twine through both pinions and legs (Fig. 7).

For stewing, twist the legs up on each side and fasten with a trussing needle and twine (Fig. 6).

Pigeons are better if drawn directly they are killed. They are birds that do not improve by keeping.


First pluck the birds, and wipe them outside with a damp cloth, but do not draw them. Twist the legs, thrust them close to the body; skin the neck and head, and bring the beak round under the wing. The birds should then be placed on toast.


These are dressed in the same way as snipe.

3944.—TO SKIN AND TRUSS A HARE. (Trussing Illustration No. 5, Figs. 6 and 7.)

Cut off the fore and hind legs at the first joint, make a long slit in the skin underneath the body, detach it from the flesh, and draw it over the hind legs, leaving the tail on. The next step is to draw the skin over the back and slip out the fore legs, easing it with a knife, if necessary, over the neck and head, and being very careful not to injure the ears, which are left on. In skinning this is the most delicate part, and one that is always found difficult by the amateur, but the appear- ance of a roast hare is spoilt if the ears are torn or otherwise injured.

To hang the hare on a hook is a most convenient way of accom- plishing the skinning, as both hands are thus free and the skin can be thus far more carefully removed and with far greater ease than if the animal be laid upon a board.

Slit the body in the same direction as the skin was cut, remove all the viscera except the kidneys, and wipe the inside with a clean damp cloth. Next cut the sinews beneath the hind legs and press them to- wards the head, and bring the fore legs backwards to the hind ones.

When the legs are arranged in the manner indicated, a skewer can be passed through the two legs on one side, through the body and the two legs on the other side, the chief part of the trussing being thus effected by means of one skewer.

Press back the head (Fig. 6), pass a skewer through the top of the shoulder, the back of the neck, and out through the top of the opposite shoulder.


Empty, skin and wash the rabbit thoroughly, wipe it dry, and take out the eyes.

Then cut off the fore joints of the shoulders and legs, and, bringing them close to the body, fasten with needle and twine, skewer firmly.

Thirdly, raise the head and skewer it back between the shoulders.

Put stuffing in (if liked) when for roasting, and sew up.