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HINTS ON CARVING. - I.
IT has been said that "a poet is born, not made;" and so it is to a
great extent with the carver. The skill to carve well depends on certain
qualities that are gifts in. the possessor - a true eye, a steady and skilful
hand. Still, even those who do not possess a natural aptitude acquire the art by
care and perseverance sufficiently to enable them to acquit themselves without
awkwardness, or the risk of wasting and spoiling what they attempt to carve,
though they may never be able to attain to that almost magical dexterity with
which some people appear to be gifted; and even those who possess this natural
skill will find it useless, unless they take care to discover the best and most
advantageous modes of cutting the viands brought to table.
There are many persons who fancy that as long as a joint is cut up, it little matters how it is done they would, by travestying the words of Shakespeare, "stand not upon the order of their cutting, but cut at once," and have a notion that all attempts at choice carving are contemptible - mere extravagances of fancy, or epicurean self-indulgence. But no greater mistake was ever made. Not only is it true that meat is twice as nice if nicely divided, but also a joint properly carved will go nearly twice as far as another of similar size and weight clumsily cut up; and every careful housewife and true economist will do her best to master the art of carving as soon as possible. Not only will she be taking the best means to avoid waste, but she will also get the credit of keeping a well-provided table; for even where there is but little to serve, if it is well cooked, well carved, well served, and neatly put on the table, a single dish is preferable [-7-] to a profusion ill prepared. Even in so small a matter as cutting a slice of bread, a loaf always cut straight and even goes much farther than one hacked and hewn irregularly, or in all directions, and it is palatable to the last piece, so that there is no excuse for leaving odds and ends. Every good housewife should make a rule in this matter, to which she should, expressing her wishes in a courteous and gentle manner, compel every member of the household and every visitor to adhere-that is, to begin at the top of the loaf, and take off the two sides equally, and in evenly-cut pieces. Nothing is more disagreeable than to come to table, and be served with a loaf of bread after some careless slattern has hacked it about in all directions.
Leg of Mutton.-This is more frequently than any other the staple joint of the family dinner, and yet is very often badly cut. The leg of mutton comes to table as shown in Fig. I. Take the carving-fork as usual in your left hand, and plant it firmly in the joint, as shown by A
in Fig. I, placing it rather over to the other side of the joint, and drawing the leg over towards you on the dish about one third, which brings the position of the fork from A to B. Cut straight down across the joint at the line marked C, not quite to the bone. Make the second cut a little on the slant, as shown in D, and take the piece out. Continue cutting from each side slantingly as the line marked D either from the thick
or the knuckle end, according to the taste of the person to be helped. A very
small piece of the udder fat should be given with each slice of meat to those
who like it. The knuckle, if any one asks for it, is first cut off in a lump, as
shown by the circular line at F, and afterwards in slices. Mutton should be cut
thick, but it should not be cut to. the bone; the slices in the centre should
not penetrate as far as the circular kernel of fat found there, and called the
"popes eye," which it is generally considered best to leave for
hashing. But some persons consider the pope's eye a delicacy; in that case it is
sliced out in a lump with a circular cut, similar to that used to remove the
knuckle, but twice as large. The pope's eye should be cut out. entire, with a
handsome piece of meat round it. The back of a leg of mutton is not generally
cut until cold, when it is best sliced lengthways, as shown in Fig. 2 ; the meat
is still cut thick, but not quite so thick as in the cuts previously described.
Cold mutton should be served with mashed potatoes and pickles, and the remains
hashed, as there is much left on the bone that does not cut up well hot or cold.
There is a part called the "cramp bone" in, a leg of mutton, which may
be removed by a circular cut from H to I in Fig. 2; it is usually relished cold.
Fig. 2 shows the joint when turned three parts over, held by the fork, as
previously described, and the dotted line at J indicates the direction of the
Sirloin of Beef- This is served as shown in Fig. r of the coloured plate, with tufts of horse-radish on the top. A sirloin should be cut with one good firm stroke: from end to end of the joint, at the, upper portion, making the cut very clean and even from A B to C, Fig. 3. Then disengage it from the bone by a horizontal cut. exactly to the bone, B to D, using the tip of the knife. Bad carving bears the hand away to the rind of the beef eventually, after many cuts, peeling it back to the other side, leaving a portion of the best of the meat adhering rigidly to the bone. Every slice should be clean and even, and the sirloin· should cut fairly to the very end. Most persons cut the under side whilst hot, not reckoning· it so good cold; but this is a matter of taste, and so is. the mode of carving it. The best way is first of all to remove the fat, E, which chops up well to make puddings, if not eaten at table. Then the under part can be cut, as already described, from end to end, F to G, or downwards, as shown by the marks at H.
Roast ribs of beef are cut in the same manner as the upper portion of a sirloin. Each person should be asked if he prefers his meat well done or with the gravy in it (i.e., underdone), and if fat is desired. The outer cuts of roast beef are of course the most cooked, the inner ones the reverse.
HINTS ON CARVING.-II
CARVING is quite a modern art, for forks have not been
introduced in Europe many centuries. The first were brought to England from
Italy by Coryat, an English traveller, in 1611i. In the days of our Saxon
ancestors, joints of meat, poultry, and game, were brought to table on the spits
on which they were cooked, and handed round to the company by the serving men on
their knees. Each person cut what he pleased from the joint, using a knife which
he carried at his girdle for the purpose, and tearing and conveying the pieces
to his mouth with his fingers. The invention of forks is ascribed to the
Italians, who used them in the fifteenth century. Other European nations fed out
of the same dish, the gentlemen cutting off pieces of meat for the ladies first,
and all using their fingers. The first forks were two-pronged, much like our
In 1653 it had become an elegant habit to use a fork, but the roughness of the general manners at a period ignorant of forks and of the art of carving may be gleaned from the instructions given in etiquette in a little work published at the date above named, and entitled, "The Accomplished Lady's Rich Closet of Rarities," in which it seems necessary to warn her against a demeanour only likely to be found amongst the very lowest members of society in our days, as the following extract shows:-
"A gentlewoman being at table abroad or at home, must observe to keep her body straighte, and not lean by any means upon her elbowes; nor by ravenous gesture discover a voracious appetite; talke not when you have meat in your mouthe, and do not smacke like a pig, nor eat spoone-meat so hot that the tears stand in your eyes. It is very uncourtly to drink so large a draught that your breath is almost gone, and you are forced to blow strongly to recover yourself; throwing doune your liquor as into a funnel is an action fitter for a juggler than a gentlewoman. In carving at your own table, distribute the best pieces first, and it will appear very decent and comely to use a fork, so touch no piece of meat without it."
Twenty years later than this, the Highlanders in Scotland cut the joints of food brought to table with the daggers they wore at their sides. Even at the present day in France, which takes the lead in so many elegancies, carving is an unknown art amongst the mass of the middle classes. If a leg of mutton is brought to table, the master of the house grasps the joint in his left hand by the knuckle, and holds it up from the dish, cutting off junks of meat with a knife, commencing from the knuckle end, but without system. When about enough for the family or company has been severed from the joint, the rough-hewn lumps of mutton are transferred to a large meat dish, a fork placed at the edge, and the dish handed round by the servant. Veal and boiled beef is cut carelessly into lumps with a knife and fork, and handed round in the same way.
And yet refined manners at table have been admired by the elite of all ages. Even the poet Ovid, so long ago as the Roman era, advised those who sought to gain the affections of others to be careful in their ways at table. He instructs his readers-
"Your meat genteelly with your lingers raise,
And, as in eating there's a Certain grace,
Beware with greasy hands lest you besmear your face."
We, who have the assistance of forks, and can readily obtain instruction in the daintiest and most economical methods of cutting the food brought to table, ought to blush to be behindhand with the ancients, not only as there is in "eating£ but also in carving, "a certain grace£ most desirable to be achieved.
[-56-] Roast Fowls are by no means an uncommon dish, and one is often requested to carve a fowl, who, from want of practice, is obliged to blush and refuse. As sideboard carving is not yet sufficiently general to render the challenge impossible, we recommend every one of our readers to master so really simple a thing; for nothing makes a person look more stupid than a bashful refusal to perform such a little service for host or hostess upon occasion. It looks as though one would eat his dinner at another's expense, but would riot even put out a hand to assist. Poultry-carvers are placed to divide fowls ; the poultry knife is short and thick, and pointed and sharp at the top. The great art in dividing all kinds of birds is to hit the joint at once, else there is an awkward fumbling about, cut after cut made, and a stupid delay. To take off the leg, which should be the first joint
removed, thrust the fork into the breast at A, in Fig. 4.
Take one careful glance at your bird before you touch it with the knife; in this
glance ascertain where the joint is likely to be relative to the width of the
leg and the width of the body. Strike the knife to the joint; feel for the
centre of it, where the joint is united; send in the tip of the knife upright;
press it down straight; and then, with the weight of the hand, turn the knife
over, as shown in Fig. 4. Instantly the joint cracks, and is severed. Now cut it
off from the side, taking a nice slice of meat with it, according to the line
indicated from A to C, in Fig. 5. Having removed one of the legs, take off the
wing on the same side in a similar manner. A good-sized piece of meat is taken
off from the side of the breast with the wing, and is almost of triangular
shape; it is shown by the dotted line from G to F, and from F to H. Remove the
leg and wing from the other side, and then take the "merry-thought"
off the breast. This is done by inserting the knife under the point of the
breast-bone at I, in Fig. 5, and sweeping it round at each side by a circular
cut from I, past L to M. Afterwards separate the remainder of the breast from
the back by cutting it right through the small rib bones at the straight line,
from end to end of the fowl, marked J K in Fig. 5. This last piece of the
breast is generally helped entire. Now only the back remains. Turn it over on
the dish with the outside upward; plant the knife upright in the centre of it,
hold it firmly, place the fork under the portion to the left of the knife, and
raise it from the dish at right angles, till the bone snaps; then cut right
through, and help the two halves separately. The wings are deemed the most
choice portions of the fowl, and are usually served first. In Fig. 5 a little
round is noticeable just in the bend of the wing, marked X. This is the gizzard
in the one wing, and the liver in the other. The liver wing is generally most
esteemed. When carving a fowl, it is usual to ask which is preferred, the liver
or the gizzard wing.
Salmon.- Fig. 3 in the coloured plate represents a slice of salmon when brought to table. Salmon should be served on a napkin, and it is often garnished with sprigs of fennel or slices of lemon. A silver or plated slice or knife, Fig. 6, is used for this, as for other kinds of fish, because steel spoils the flavour of fish. A knife needs to be broad to divide the flakes without breaking them. A fish-knife has a sharp curved point to disengage the fish from the bones, and is perforated with holes to allow any water retained about the fish to run off. A fork is not used in helping fish. With the blade of the fish-knife, A to B, in Fig. 6, cut through the salmon from end to end, close to the backbone, at the line marked A in Fig. 7. If the fish is large, it will be necessary to make one or more cuts parallel with A. These are again divided across into square pieces, as shown at B. This part of the salmon, which is the prime, is called the "thick."
With each slice of the thick, cut also one of the "thin," or belly, which is cut down in smaller slices, as shown from E to F in the illustration. When the upper portion is consumed, remove the centre bone with the fish-slice to the side of the dish. Cut the remainder as before, taking care not to damage the napkin on which it is laid. Each piece of fish is served from the dish to the plate on the flat of the silver slice. The centre of the salmon towards the shoulders, and the centre cuts are reckoned the best. In our next article on this subject we shall give instructions for carving the other dishes figured in our coloured illustration, as well as some more plain joints of butcher meat.
HINTS ON CARVING.-III.
Hare.-A hare is considered a difficult dish to
carve, for unless very young the bones are hard to divide. Fig. 8 shows the
proper appearance of a roasted hare when brought to table. The head should be
set to the left of the carver. If the hare is not very young, cut thin slices
the length of the back from G to H, Fig. 8. Next remove the shoulders by
inserting the knife between the shoulder and the side at the dotted line J, feel
the joint, cut down through it with some strength, and treat it as the leg of a
fowl is treated, only more vigorously. None of the adjoining meat is cut off
with the shoulders or legs of a hare. Having removed the shoulders, insert the
knife at the dotted line at K and take off the leg. Treat the other side in the
same manner. The head is cut off by inserting the point of the knife at M, which
must be fitted into a niche between the vertebrae of the neck, and taking a
circular stroke from M to N, when the back-bone has been divided through. Cut
the lower from the upper jaw through the line 0 to P, Fig. 8. Then place the
point of the knife upright at Q, and split and cut open the head at the line
visible in the centre of the skull from the nose to the ears. Many persons like
the brain, ears, and cheeks. If the hare is young, cut off the shoulders, legs,
and head, before touching the back, and then, instead of taking off slices, cut
the back across the narrow way in several pieces at the lines marked R R R R, in
Fig. 8. This is done by planting the knife upright, feeling for the niche
between the bones, and splitting the back. The ribs are cut right through on
either side lengthways, and separate pieces served. The back of a hare is
considered the best, and the leg the next most choice part. The shoulders are
not usually coveted, as they are apt to be dry. Nevertheless some like them, and
they are wholesome, and prudent carvers will find a use for them. Serve a little
seasoning and one of the forcemeat balls with each piece.
Rabbit.- A rabbit, roast or boiled, is carved precisely as the young hare is, the back being cut across in small pieces after the shoulders, legs, and head have been removed. The head is cut up last. Every part of the rabbit is good. The back is considered the choice help, especially the centre piece. The shoulder is preferred to the leg. For rabbit pie, cut up the animal in the same way. If roast, serve the forcemeat balls and seasoning with the meat; if boiled, a little onion sauce. The kidney is considered a delicacy. Each one may be cut in half and served separately; and though not much to look at it will suffice for a relish, which is all that can be looked for.
Turkey.-- A turkey generally appears on the board at Christmas, if at no other time. It requires more skill to carve a turkey than any other bird, excepting a goose, and on the carver's operations will depend how far the bird will go in point of economy. The breast is reckoned the best, and the wing the next in preference. Gentlemen are often partial to the drumstick, the slender part of the leg. Commence by cutting slices from the breast on each side, as shown by the lines at A, in Fig. 9. If seasoned with herbs, the seasoning will be found in doing this; a little seasoning is served with every portion of the bird. If truffles or mushrooms have been used in stuffing, open "the apron," as it is called, by cutting a slit at C, and taking out the seasoning in slices ; next remove the wings at the dotted line D, precisely in the same way as from a fowl. Draw out the silver skewer, F, and take off the leg at the joint by inserting the knife between the leg and the side of the body at E, and parting the joint, which it requires some strength to do, without cutting off any meat with it. When separated, the leg appears as shown in Fig. 10. There is a joint at the dotted line A, which must be severed, and the two pieces served separately. B is the drumstick, E the scaled leg of the bird which is part of the drumstick; C is called the cushion. The drumstick is often reserved till the bird is cold, and then grilled for breakfast. The rest must be carved as you would a fowl, dividing the breast, and cutting the back in half.
Calf's Head is a very delicate and by no
means an [-80-] uncommon dish, but it is noteworthy
that it is far more economical if carved in the manner we are about to describe,
than any other way. Commence by making long slices from end to end of the cheek,
cutting quite through, so as to feel the bone throughout the entire stroke,
according to the dotted lines from A to B in Fig. 11. With each of these slices
serve a cut of what is called the throat sweet-bread, which lies at the fleshy
part of the neck end. Cut also slices at D, which are gelatinous and delicate,
and serve small pieces with the meat; this greatly economises the joint. A
little of the tongue is usually placed on each plate, and about a spoonful of
the brains. The tongue is served on a separate dish. surrounded by the brain and
is cut across, the narrow way, in rather thin slices. Some persons like the eye.
It is removed by a circular cut, marked by dots at E. First put the knife in
slanting at F, inserting the point at that part of the dotted line, and driving
it in to the centre under the eye ; then wheel the hand round, keeping
the circle of the dotted line with the blade of the knife, the point still in
the centre. The eye will come out entire, cone-shaped at the under part, when
the circle is completed by the knife. There are some gelatinous pieces round the
eye, which are generally considered very desirable. The lower jaw must next be
removed by cutting through at the dotted line from G to H to do which
successfully the dish must be turned. Many persons consider the palate a dainty,
and it should always be offered at table to the guests or members of the family.
It is found under the head, of course, lining that part which forms the roof of
the mouth. For the proper appearance of a calves' head when brought to table,
reference must be made to Fig. 4 in the coloured plate.
Shoulder of Mutton, though costing less per pound, is not reckoned by some managers to be so economical a joint as a leg. Still, there are many persons who hold a contrary opinion, and a shoulder of mutton is a very frequent joint on a family dinner-table. The palatableness of the meat served from a shoulder depends much more than does that from a leg on the skill of the carver, and it is also a joint which may be made to go much further by skilful cutting. Commence by thrusting in the fork at G in Fig. 12, firmly. Raise and half turn the shoulder over and upwards, holding it in this position by means of the fork; slash lightly in with the knife at A, but do not cut quite down to the bone; the meat now flies open, leaving a gap, as if a thick slice had been removed. Cut a few slices thickly at the lines marked B, and then at the knuckle side at those marked H, making both slope so as to meet at D. Those to be helped to meat should always be asked whether they prefer the knuckle end or the thick end. The cut on the blade-bone, marked C in Fig. 12, is usually reserved till the joint is cold, and so is that at E. The circular cut F removes the fat, a slice of which should be proffered with each piece of lean. Very many people think the most delicate cuts are to be found underneath the joint, which parts are represented in Fig. 13. The cut at J is a thin slice of brown meat, followed by other slices cut in succession. From K to L, long slices can be removed, by cutting through to the bone. The long lines at N, and the short ones at M, indicate the situation of similar cuts. Taste varies so much in regard to which are the nicest cuts on a shoulder of mutton, that individuals should always be consulted before helping. Every part of a shoulder of mutton, except the first cuts, should be carved in thin slices, and even those are not made so thick as they are in a leg. The blade-bone is, in our opinion, the choicest cut of all (that marked C in Fig. 12), and may be eaten hot, if the remainder of the shoulder is hashed, instead of bringing it to table cold; it is the better way to hash it, for the meat is insipid cold. A shoulder of lamb is treated similarly; so is a shoulder of veal, which is sent to table with the under part turned to the carver, who commences by serving the knuckle, and then cuts as the under part of a shoulder of mutton is cut, afterwards turning the joint and carving the upper part, according to Fig. 12.
HINTS ON CARVING - IV.
Ham.- A ham is one of those dishes which one is constantly
requested to dispense, even when not occupying the important post of carver. It
is usual to commence cutting beyond the knuckle, but not quite in the centre,
just where the ham begins to grow thicker, and to cut it across, leaning
downwards, so as gradually to encroach upon the fat, till the slice slopes very
much from the fat to the bone. Slice after slice is cut off in this way till the
ham is finished. The thinner the meat can be cut the better it is considered. It
may be remarked that the ham is brought to table with that part uppermost which
in a leg of mutton is called the back. A trimming is always to be put on round
the knuckle. In the diagram, Fig. 16, the first cut of the ham is shown from A
to B. It is to he observed that the slices are not cut through to the bone, but
rather shaved off the ham. always bearing towards the fat.
There is another method of serving this joint, which some people who like the hock, prefer. This is managed by taking off several thin slices at A to B, in Fig. 17, and carving the rest of the ham lengthwise from D to C, also thin.
Neck of Mutton.-First divide the short bones from the long, by cutting quite through them, across the joint, at the dotted line A to B, Fig. 14. Then insert the knife at C, plunge it down, feel the joint, press it in, turn it over, as you do the leg of a fowl, to snap it, and then cut the chop off. Cut one of the small bones and serve with each chop. It is usual to cut two chops, and add two small bones to each helping, not previously severing them, but removing them from the joint together. If loin and neck of mutton are not very well jointed before they are cooked, they can never be properly carved at table, and there is a great deal of waste in consequence. Butchers must be instructed to separate the bones well. The cook also should further divide them, before dressing.
Loin of Mutton is generally cut through between every two chops, which are served together.
Neck of Veal.-A neck of veal cannot be treated like a neck of mutton, for the chops it yields are far too large to serve entire. Therefore, first divide the small bones by cutting through (Fig. 15, from A to B), as with the neck of mutton, and then take off slanting slices from D to C, from the bones, cutting down to them.
Loin of Veal.-With a loin of veal a slice of toast is sent to table, on a small dish. Turn over the loin, and cut out the kidney, with the surrounding fat, and place it [-144-] on the dish upon the toast. Then turn back the veal to its former position, and cut off slices from D to C, Fig. 15.
Pheasant.--A pheasant and a partridge are birds not rare on any country table, and partridges especially are plentiful enough in London to be easily obtained by all classes during the season. The skewers must first be taken from the pheasant. The legs are to be then removed in the same way as those of a fowl. The wings are next to be taken off also as in carving a fowl, observing only that very little of the breast is served with them. The breast affords several delicate slices, which are considered the best part. The wings are preferred next, and then the merry thought ; game eaters like the legs. The rest of the bird is carved like a fowl. A pheasant always comes to table with the head on one side, and a large bunch of the liver on the other (Fig. 18). It is usual to leave the tail on when plucking it, or to tie it up and skewer it on afterwards, and send it to table with the bird.
Partridges -Cut off the leg and wing together, after removing the skewers, as shown from A to B in Fig. 18. Treat the other side the same. The piece consisting of a leg and wing thus cut off is to be served whole and not divided. Separate the breast from the back, as in carving a fowl, by cutting through the small side bones. The breast makes one plate, and the back is given with either of the other three, but cannot be served alone. Another way of serving partridge is to split the bird in two through the breast and back, Fig. 19, and place the halves on separate plates. Although the methods of carving a partridge are two, as we have already described, it must be observed that special circumstances must decide in which way a particular bird shall be divided and allotted. There are differences in the size and condition of birds brought at one and the same time to table. There are differences also in the proportion of the rations, which a judicious carver will know under all circumstances how to arrange for. But there is one rule which may be laid down with tolerable propriety, and it is to help a gentleman to half a bird. When gentlemen only are at table, the second method of carving partridges is always followed.
HINTS ON CARVING-V.
Goose. - A goose, Fig. 20, is a very awkward bird to carve, because the joints are difficult to separate. The carving of an old goose is certainly a tough job enough, and is very apt, unless carefully managed, to endanger the cleanliness of the table linen. However, if the bird be young, there is no very great difficulty likely to occur, and to attain the art of carving a goose nicely is very desirable, for it is a bird that literally goes twice as far when ably cut up as when awkwardly served.
To commence, insert the fork a little on one side of the breast, and cut off
thin slices from end to end of the bird at the dotted lines marked from A to B.
treating both sides alike. It is usual to stuff geese with sage and onions, but
as many people object to the flavour of these, each person should be asked
whether or no he desires "seasoning " - which is preferable to the
term stuffing - and the carver should help a little, along with the meat, to
those who like it. The seasoning, or stuffing, is found by cutting open what is
called the apron, at C, from C to E, at the dotted line. Next take off the wings
and legs, as in a fowl, inserting the knife at E for the wing, feeling the
joint, pressing it down very firmly, and when the knife is felt in the centre of
the joint, turning it over outwards with some strength. As soon as it snaps
apart cut forward with one slice, and take the wing completely off. The knife is
inserted at F for removing the leg. Cut the leg in half again, and serve the
pieces separately, perhaps with a slice or two of the breast, according to the
size of [-198-] the bird, and the consequent
sufficiency or otherwise of the portion tendered. The breast and back are then
cut in half through the side bones, as in a fowl, the breastbone removed, and
the back served whole. It is seldom necessary to cut up a goose entirely the
first day. In that case the carving can be finished in the kitchen, previous to
making a hash of the bird. Many people who are not particular about the look of
the bird, always make a practice of having it cut up before coming to table.
Sucking Pig.- A sucking pig is a very common dish in the country. Unless the family is very small, it is usual to serve two, which are placed on one dish, the heads previously cut off and laid at the ends, as is shown in Fig. 23. Turn the pig upright with the fork, and hold it so. To take off the leg, set the knife in upright at A, Fig. 22, and divide the joint, and then cut it off. Make a slanting slice under the shoulder, as shown at B, and cut boldly through the joint when you meet it. Cut right through the back and ribs in slanting strokes at C C C. The ear and the jaw are considered delicacies. The ears are sent to table already cut off, and will be observed garnishing the dish in Fig. 23.
A Saddle of Mutton.- A saddle of mutton is a dish not unfrequently set on table where there is a large family, or on festive occasions, for it is a particularly handsome joint. It is simply two entire loins undivided, and is considered by many people to be the choicest part of the meat. A saddle of mutton is sent to table in two different ways - either with the tail dressed whole, or with it split in half, each half curled diverse ways over one of the kidneys, and fastened in that position by means of a very small skewer. This fashion our illustration, Fig. 21, represents. Carve thin slices from end to end of the centre of the saddle, beginning a little distance from the tail, as shown in the dotted lines from A to B. Cut quite down to the bone. Make three or four slices, each with a single movement of the hand, drawing the knife quietly along the joint, feeling the bone with the point. In making the last slice, slope the knife slightly to the right side, and cut right through all the previous slices, completely detaching them. The slanting slices from C to D, and the cross ones from E to F, may then be taken, and furnish a palatable mixture of fat and lean. Each guest should be consulted as to whether he or she desires the kidney, and when the answer is obtained in the affirmative, a slice of the kidney is to be served with the meat. Saddle of mutton is not cut so thin as beef, but moderately thick.
Fore Quarter of Lamb.- This joint is open to much the same remarks as a saddle of mutton, being esteemed fit for a guest dish, and also suitable for a numerous party. But it requires quite different carving. It is simply a breast and shoulder in one. When placed on table the carver's first duty is to remove the shoulder, which is not at all difficult. The fork is inserted at A, Fig. 24; the dish is so placed that F is next you, I points directly to the other side of the table, J is on your right hand, and K on your left. Then, with your fork at A, take the knife, hold it at B, and boldly slice away right round to C, raising the shoulder, as you cut it from the breast, and as it severs in the process, with the fork. Go on cutting from C to D, and D to E. You keep your knife with the point as far down as shown in the illustration, and take a circular cut, as shown by the dotted line, and by this means the shoulder will be quite cut off when you have completed the circle, or at best a slight cut will quite sever it. The moment this is done take a lemon or Seville orange, cut in half and sprinkled with salt and pepper, and placed in a plate ready, and squeeze it under the shoulder, which you support still by the fork, an inch or so above the breast, sloping and touching it on the lower side ; put in a slice of butter, and let the shoulder rest on the breast, removing the fork. Allow a couple of minutes to melt the butter. Meanwhile a fresh hot dish is brought. Transfer the shoulder to this, and send it to the other end of the table, or to some other person to be served as a separate Joint. The breast is now carved as a breast, and the shoulder as a shoulder, in the ordinary way.
A Leg of Pork. - Pork is a favourite dish with very many, and a leg of pork frequently appears on the family board, though it is not generally esteemed a dish for a formal occasion. It must be placed on the table with the back upwards, and the crackling taken off in a large coat before any attempt is made to cut the meat. Unless the joint is sufficiently cooked, it will not be easy to displace the hard and savoury skin. Cut the joint in rather thick slices across the hack at the dotted lines marked A to B in Fig. 26. Slices of the crackling-which, if properly scored before cooking, are easily made by placing the point of the knife in the cuts, and snapping it asunder-should be tendered with each serving of meat, if desired.
Tongue.- Tongue should be helped in very thin, even slices. It is first cut through downwards, a little way from the tip, where a good thickness is attained, at the line marked from A to B, Fig. 25. With each serving cut a slice from the root, D to E, and a little of the fat and kernels which will be found underneath, between E and F. The tip, C, is by many considered a delicacy.
Bacon, when it is a large piece, is generally cut the narrow way, very thin indeed, straight down from the top to the dish, like the cut in the tongue, but beginning from the very end of the bacon, not serving the first slice, but laying that aside on the dish. Small pieces of bacon are usually cut lengthways.
HINTS ON CARVING.—VI.
Whiting.—Whiting are correctly brought to table fried in egg and bread-crumbs, with the tail in the mouth, secured by means of a tiny wooden skewer. These are served whole, one to each guest, who must be careful at once to remove the wooden skewer.
Pike.—Pike are split open if baked, and as few bones as possible served with each piece.
Cod.—Cod deserves a place of honour next to turbot, if we observe precedence amongst the dishes. A cod's head and shoulders is a noble dish, and a very wholesome one, Fig. 29. First sever the slices that are already partly cut, and marked by five A's to the five corresponding B's. At least cut as many of them as you have friends to supply. Then sever them completely by a transverse stroke of the fish-knife from D to C. A little of the light gelatinous substance, called sounds, should be served to each person. This will be found at E, just inside the fish under the back-bone. Care must be observed not to break the flakes in serving the fish.
Flat Fish —A turbot, a large plaice, a brill, and a John dory, are in all cases carved in the same manner. The use of the fish-slice will now be needed. First of all long cuts are made from end to end of the fish, as marked in Fig. 28, A to B. Cut the fish quite down to the bone. Then make a number of slices from C to D, shown by dotted lines. A steel knife must next be used, and sever completely through the bones at every cut made where it is necessary. Resign it again, and resuming the fish-slice, cut quite through the other side down to the napkin on which the fish is laid, and serve the pieces, bones and all. A little of the parsley, which will be observed lying on the fish and round the dish, must be laid on each plate. The bones are regarded as dainties. When flat fish are too small to serve in this way they are cut in three across the short way, shown at the dotted lines A to B and C to D, in Fig. 28, which represents a sole. The centre-piece is considered the best. Smaller soles are cut only in half, and very small ones, and flounders, served whole.
Pigeons, &c. — Pigeons, when roasted, afford a delicious and savoury though but a slight dish. Cut each pigeon in half exactly through the middle, as shown by the line from A to B, in Fig. 27. It is easier to cut a pigeon in half when laid flat on its back upon the dish, going boldly quite through the breast with sufficient weight of hand to divide the bones at once. Other birds, when about the size of the pigeon, may be carved in a similar way, by simple division. Small birds, such as snipes, landrails, wheatears, and larks, are served whole. A great deal, however, depends on the size of the birds.
Mackerel.—To carve mackerel, divide them down the bone from head to tail, taking the slice of meat entirely off the upper side of the bone. Cut this slice in half before removing it, and serve the pieces separately, the upper being esteemed preferable to the tail end. Then put the bone aside, and cut the other portion in half also. The fish-slice, or a silver knife, must be used.
Pilchards, Herrings, Smelts, Whitebait, Sprats.—All such small fish as these are served whole ; the very small ones several at a time. Eels and conger-eels are divided before they are cooked. If stewed, they are served with a spoon ; and when fried, with a slice.
Loin of Pork is served by simply cutting off the chops as a loin of mutton is cut, only there is no top part to remove. If the pork is not well scored before dressing, it can never be properly managed at table.
Aitch-bone of Beef is the only joint which now remains to be mentioned : this is simply cut from end to end of the joint in thin slices, serving fat with the lean. A single, though rather thick, slice is cut off first from the centre of the top of the joint, and laid aside in the dish till it becomes cold. The gravy will be found in the succeeding slices.
Round of Beef, which is generally salted, is cut in thin slices the entire size of the meat; a little of the fat cut thicker, and a trifle on the slant, is placed on each slice of the lean. Carrots are usually ranged round the dish cut in short pieces. One or two of these are also placed in every plate.
Ribs of Beef rolled are carved in the same way as the round of beef, with this exception, that there is no fat to cut separately; the fat is streaked with the lean. Neither are carrots served up, as ribs of beef is a roast joint. There is gravy in the dish, which should be served over each slice of meat, and if there is any garnishing of horse-radish, a little may be gathered up between the carving-knife and fork, and, if desired, furnished to the guests.
In our next article upon this subject we hope to complete our remarks upon this very important branch of domestic art, which is in too many instances disregarded, as if it were a matter of no importance. When there is even a general idea of how a given dish ought to be treated, we too often see both the appearance of the dish itself and of the portion served from it completely spoilt by feebleness and uncertainty of touch, which produce a repulsive raggedness and untidy aspect, where all should be clean, and neat, and trim. Of course, a sharp knife has very much influence upon this, and too great pains cannot be taken,
when anything really has to be cut, to keep the carver in good condition.
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