In praise of pre-cut chicken
I was preparing another rant today but decided to keep it light this week because there is just too much to rant about and I only have one page.
I received a packet of very old recipes from Lola Nussbaum, a reader from Grover, Colo., recently and found them to be very interesting.
Believe it or not, life is much easier today for housewives than it was in the olden days.
But one of the more fascinating items that I found among the recipes were directions for cleaning poultry. When I saw that I thought, well, you just hold the chicken under the tap then pat it dry with a paper towel.
Oh no, the directions started with a whole chicken, head and all. If you are squeamish you may want to stop reading here.
These are the instructions for cleaning poultry (I’m assuming this goes for turkey and chicken, but I might be wrong):
“Singe fowl over free flame. Cut off head just below bill. Untie feet, break bone and loosen sinews just below joint; pull out sinews and cut off feet. Cut out oil sac. Lay breast down, slit skin down backbone toward head; loosen windpipe and crop and pull out. Push back skin from neck and cut off neck close to body. Make slit below end of breastbone, put in fingers, loosen intestines from backbone, take firm grasp of gizzard and draw all out. Cut around vent so that intestines are unbroken. Remove heart and lungs. Remove kidneys. See that inside looks clean, let cold water run through then wipe inside and out with a wet cloth. Cut through fleshy part of gizzard and remove inside heavy skin without breaking, then cut away gristly part so that only thick, fleshy part is used.”
Wow, not only did they have to be able to cook back then, but they also had to be able to identify various body parts and organs.
It’s a good thing they started selling pre-cut chicken when I was growing up. Using knives is not my forte. In fact, my husband hovers whenever I pick up a knife to cut something. He always catches me using “the wrong knife” for whatever I am doing and then eventually — after watching me struggle — grabs the knife and finishes whatever I started. He does that when I load the dishwasher too.
Thank you Lola Nussbaum for that fascinating look at yesteryears cooking. Now, if only I could find a can of Dr. Price’s Phosphate Baking Powder. ❖
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