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Page:Mrs Beeton's Book of Household Management.djvu/785

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1214.—DUCK, STEWED WHOLE. (Fr.Canard en Ragoût.)

Ingredients.—1 duck, 1 pint of brown stock, 1½ ozs. of butter, 1½ ozs. of flour, 2 onions sliced, 2 sage leaves, a bouquet-garni (parsley, thyme, bay-leaf), salt and pepper.

Method.—Roast the duck, or bake it in a good oven for 20 minutes, then place it in a stewpan with the herbs and onions, and cook slowly for ¾ of an hour. Melt the butter, add the flour, and, when well browned, strain in the stock. Stir over the fire until a smooth sauce is obtained, then draw the stewpan aside, simmer gently for 20 minutes and strain. Serve the duck on a hot dish, pour over it some of the sauce, and send the remainder to table in a sauceboat.

Time.—About 1¼ hours. Average Cost, 3s. 6d. to 4s. 3d. Sufficient for 4 or 5 persons. Seasonable from August to March.

The Mallard or Wild Duck (Fr. canard sauvage).—Anas boschas is the original stock from which the numerous varieties of the domesticated duck have been derived. It is found throughout Europe, Asia and America. The plumage of the male is metallic green on the head and neck, the latter being encircled with a collar of white; the body is of a dark chestnut colour, marked with black; that of the female is of dull brown hue. In the spring the plumage of the male begins to fade, and in about two months the brilliancy of his feathers disappears, so that the male bird is scarcely distinguishable from the female. Then the greens and the blues and the browns begin to bud out again, and by October he is once more a gorgeous drake. It is a curious fact that domestication has seriously deteriorated the moral character of the duck. In the wild state the drake is a faithful husband, devoting himself to one wife, but in the domestic state he becomes a polygamist and owns a dozen wives. The females are much more solicitous for their progeny in the wild state than when tame, and if her ducklings are molested she will buffet the transgressor with her broad wings, and dash boldly into his face, striking vigorously with her stout beak. If her nest is searched for in the long grass, the mother bird will try by every means in her power to lure away the intruder, a favourite manœuvre being to simulate lameness to encourage pursuit and capture. After being pursued for half a mile or so, the bird will fly up and make her escape.

The duck was highly esteemed by the Romans for the delicacy and flavour of its flesh, to which even medicinal virtues were ascribed. Plutarch states that Cato preserved his household in health during a plague by dieting its members on roast duck.

1215.—DUCK STEWED WITH GREEN PEAS. (Fr.Canard aux Petits Pois.)

Ingredients.—Remains of cold roast ducks, 1 pint of brown sauce (see Sauces, No. 233), 1 pint of shelled peas, 1 sprig of mint, 1 lump of sugar, lemon-juice.

Method.—Parboil the peas with the mint and sugar, and drain well. Divide the remains of the ducks into neat pieces, put them into the hot brown sauce, add the peas, season to taste, and simmer very gently for ½ an hour. Before serving, add a few drops of lemon-juice.

Time.—From 45 to 60 minutes. Average Cost, 1s., exclusive of the ducks. Sufficient for 3 or 4 persons. Seasonable from August to March.

The Common Teal (Fr. sarcelle) is the smallest of the Anatidae, or duck family. Its bill is long and furnished with a horny tip; the plumage of the male is brown, with feathers of a lustrous metallic green. It visits Britain during the winter and teal shooting is a favourite sport in the fen districts. It is also capture in large numbers by means of decoys. The green-winged teal and the blue-winged teal of North America are handsome birds; and the Chinese teal, or Mandarin duck, is especially noted for the bright tints or purple, green, white and dark brown, which distinguish the male bird.

The Blue-bill Duck, known as the Scaup-duck, frequents our coasts in winter, and feeds upon small fish and molluscs. Its flesh is coarse.