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Page:The White House Cook Book.djvu/99

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IN CHOOSING poultry, select those that are fresh and fat, and the surest way to determine whether they are young is to try the skin under the leg or wing. If it is easily broken, it is young ; or, turn the wing backwards, if the joint yields readily, it is tender. When poultry is young the skin is thin and tender, the legs smooth, the feet moist and limber, and the eyes full and bright. The body should be thick and the breast fat. Old turkeys have long hairs, and the flesh is purplish where it shows under the skin on the legs and back. About March they deteriorate in quality.

Young ducks and geese are plump, with light, semi-transparent fat, soft breast bone, tender flesh, leg- joints which will break by the weight of the bird, fresh-colored and brittle beaks, and windpipes that break when pressed between the thumb and forefinger. They are best in fall and winter.

Young pigeons have light red flesh upon the breast, and full, fresh- colored legs ; when the legs are thin and the breast very dark the birds are old.

Fine game birds are always heavy for their size; the flesh of the breast is firm and plump and the skin clear; and if a few feathers be plucked from the inside of the leg and around the vent, the flesh of freshly-killed birds will be fat and fresh-colored ; if it is dark and dis- colored, the game has been hung a long time. The wings of good ducks, geese, pheasants and woodcock are tender to the touch ; the tips of the long wing feathers of partridges are pointed in young birds and round in old ones. Quail, snipe and small birds should have full, ten- der breasts. Poultry should never be cooked until six or eight hours after it has been killed, but it should be picked and drawn as soon as possible. Plunge it in a pot of scalding hot water ; then pluck oft' the feathers, taking care not to tear the skin ; when it is picked clean, roll up a piece of white paper, set fire to it and singe off all the hairs. The


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