According to Eliza Acton, cooks of the untrained variety are “often deplorably ignornat of this skill” and yes I do have to count myself among these ladies dear reader. Trussing can not be “taught by words” and so she sudggests going to a first rate poulterer for practical lessons. Not such a thing we can do these days Eliza we have Tesco and Sainsburys Etc and so that only leaves the Covered Market in Oxford and I think its highly unlikely the butchers will give me a lesson in Trussing a fowl.
So now we have in this chapter the “GENERAL DIRECTIONS FOR TRUSSING” this was a bit of a puzzler. Simplified it involves removing the down, feathers and hair of the bird in the following manor ” the hair must be singed from it with lighted writing paper care being taken not to smoke or blacken in the operation” This sounded slightly dodgy to me and posed me some questions.
1) Was it a certain brand of writing paper
2) was there a safer method
3) how did they not set light to themselves!!
Mercifully those days are gone and we dont need to do this process in our own kitchens and I think we are very very lucky we dont have to. Imagine how sore your hands would have become with all the plucking and not too mention the possibility of singed eyebrows!!!
So even though we are looking at theoretical trussing of a fowl what would we need to do it? This is what the Instructions in the book said.
You will need a Trussing needle which are found in any good Ironmongers! Hmmmm unlikely that you would find an Ironmongers that would do them or even an Ironmongers itself we only have one good one left in Oxford. Next you need Pack thread (A strong thread or twine used in tying up parcels) maybe there is something more modern around? And finally you will need a Fowl or chicken.
Lets truss a Chicken then, hmmmmmm even on paper this looks like a complecated procedure anyway these are the steps.
“First draw the skin of the neck down over the back, and secure it from slipping up; then thread a trussing needle of convenient size,* for the occasion, with packthread or small twine (the former, from being the most flexible, is best); pass it through the pinion of the bird, then through the thick part of the thigh, which must be brought up close under the wing, and in a straight line quite through the body, and through the leg and pinion on the other side; draw them close, and bring the needle back, passing it through the thick part of the leg, and through the second joint of the pinion, should it be left on the bird; tie it quite tight; and then to secure the legs, pierce the sidebone and carry the twine over the legs, then pass the needle through the other sidebone, and tie them close down. If skewers be used they should be driven through the pinions and the legs, and a twine passed across the back of the bird, and caught over the points of it, and then tied in the centre of the back”
It all sounds like a bit of an acrobatic feet to me how on earth are you supposed to secure the chicken and thread the needle at the same time!!!
Anyway I will leave you all with that thought I am nor even going to think about how you Truss a fish lol.
Next Blog will be Eliza Acton on Carving.