To make fried bread-crumbs—the best accompaniment to grouse—a clear fire is necessary. Get an enamelled stew-pan, and put a little butter in it (about an ounce), then get some bread-crumbs, stale and not too fine, throw them in the butter, aud keep stirring till they begin to change colour; as soon as they do, remove the stewpan from the fire, but keep on stirring; the process of cooking, as we have said before, goes on some time after the stew-pan is removed. As soon as they are sufficiently brown, place them on some blotting-paper, in order that all the grease may be soaked up.
The blotting-paper can be placed in front of the fire, and the bread-crumbs tossed lightly about with a fork. The bread-crumbs can be made hot in the oven when required for use, but should not be allowed to remain in too long, as they are apt to get too hard and crisp, and thereby get converted into tooth-breakers.
As we have said before, game, at any rate in this country, is far too good a thing to be left to the last, and then to be brought forward only in mouthfuls. The fact is, we are all of us to a great extent creatures of habit. We, as a rule, do what other people do, without reasoning whether it is right or wrong, good or bad, but simply because we shrink from drawing out a line for ourselves, or because we fear to be thought eccentric. For instance, take an ordinary party of, say, ten persons at dinner at the present season. We cling to soup, fish, entre'es, and joint, and follow it up with game, served in the same course with sweets, the latter often being expensive to make, and uncared for by the majority. Suppose we change our dinner into, first, a little good clear soup ; secondly, a good haunch of mutton, well kept and well cooked, and let this be followed by some game in sufficient quantity. When we are by ourselves, we own probably we could manage half a grouse after " a cut off the joint." Why therefore not save the money too often wasted over second-rate entrees and sweets intended more to please the eye than the palate, and spend it in giving a dinner which, if not quite in the fashion, will at any rate please ?
Were this done, you may be certain of one point, that your house will be considered one at which it is worth while dining.
A glass of Pomerey and Grem's champagne, cold, but not frozen, at dinner, followed by a good bottle of claret, say Chateau Margeaux (which may be placed on a top shelf in the kitchen during the day to bring out its flavour), after dinner, will have the effect of sending home your guests enabled to say from their hearts, or at any rate their stomachs, " I have dined."
Once again has that season come round in which earth appears to be most lavish in her gifts to men. In our own country may be seen miles of ground on which rich golden grain waves in the autumn sun, waiting for the reaper's hook, while in the present age, when the iron horse almost annihilates both time and distance, within a few hours' journey from our shores may be seen that glorious sight where the earth seems reeling with rich purple profusion soon to be converted into the wine that " cheereth God and man." As often happens, with change of season also comes change of food, a change doubly welcome in a country like our own, which seems to possess fewer changes than others, on the beef and mutton, mutton and beef, day after day and week after week. There are, perhaps, few changes more decided than that of hare in the shape of food, and few dishes that persons would care less to eat every day. Still, it is a change, and a pleasant one; but hare requires rather more skill in cooking than many cooks are aware of. Hare really properly cooked has simply to be compared with hare carelessly served to prove the truth of this statement.
I will begin by describing that simple dish, roast hare. Now what is the common fault to be found with this excellent dish, as we get it in nine houses out of ten ? It is nearly always dried up, that part ot the meat of the back which in roasting is nearest the fire seems covered with a thick, hard skin, the reason being that it has roasted too long, too fast, and has not been sufficiently basted. In cooking hare, and, in fact, in cooking any kind of meat, the nature of that meat should be borne in mind. The specialty about hare is that it has a tendency to taste what we may call dry; and also, it possesses very little natural fat. Consequently the cook's great object should be to keep the hare as moist as possible, and to prevent it from getting dry. In all high-class works on cooking, entries made from hare are invariably spoken of as larded fillets, which are finished by the addition of various sauces, etc.; but I do not think it would be very practical to describe the process of larding fillets of hare. Larding requires practice, and one practical lesson of seeing it done would be worth a volume of bulk—indeed I might as well attempt to explain how to shoot the hare ; I fear the cook who depended upon " reading " for her knowledge of larding would miss her mark, as surely as the sportsman whose sole experience consisted of a similar kind would miss his.
There is an old saying, " A disease once known is half-cured ;" the disease, so to speak, against which we have to contend is dryness. In roasting a hare, therefore, bear in mind the importance of basting, and also of not letting die hare be too close to the fire in the early stage of roasting. But to begin at the beginning : We will suppose the hare caught and hung up, head downwards, in his fur jacket. Now the first thing to be thought of is the length of time that a hare should be kept before it is cooked. This entirely depends upon the weather; a perfectly fresh hare should never be cooked unless the whole of it is intended for hare-soup, which is rarely the case save in small private houses. Some persons prefer the hare absolutely high; the best course is a happy medium between being too high and too fresh, and cooks should bear in mind that what often appears very high and offensive when raw, becomes perfectly right when cooked.