In his day, Ambrose Heath wrote and translated more than one hundred works on food. We have a few of them and you might remember that we have featured several of them in the last few years. Good Poultry and Game Dishes falls into another of our favorite categories, game cookbooks.
First, let me say that we cook chicken every single Sunday and on other days of the week, too. Second, let me say that living with a thousand cookbooks often means that is nothing new on the recipe front. If you can eat it, we have read a recipe for it. In fact, we have read recipes for numerous things that you wouldn't put in your mouth in a million years!
So while perusing Good Poultry and Game Disheswe ran across several recipes for hazel hen. What exactly is a hazel hen. Here was something quite new and in need of research.
The hazel hen is a small little grouse. They are found in England and central Europe. The males are quite the little crooners and evidently sing as a way to defend their breeding territory. There are a few recipes out there for this type of grouse and here is Ambrose Heath's.
Hazel Hens, Potted
Cut three or four hazel hens into neat pieces and slice the breasts. Put a few slices of fat bacon into a terrine, and add some pieces of the bird with a bay-leaf, one or two cloves, a little cinnamon and chopped onion and salt and peppercorn, covering with more bacon and repeating the layers until the terrine is full, then pour in enough light red wine nearly to fill the terrine, put on a lid or a pastry top, and bake in a very slow oven for five to six hours. Serve cold.
In a 1958 Sport's Illustrated article, we are told that "21" is the place to go for fowl of all kinds including the hazel hen:
"But Scottish grouse is only one of a large number of game specialties which have helped to establish the considerable reputation of "21." Chukar partridge, mallard and other species of duck, hazel hen, Mexican quail, young Canadian snow goose and Norwegian ptarmigan are other available items in season. Larger game includes venison, of course (the ragout of venison St. Hubert is outstanding), reindeer, moose, elk, hare from Canada and, occasionally, saddle of antelope. Also, of all things, bear. Gary Cooper, I was told, on his visits to New York never misses ordering the grilled black bear chops."
Ambrose Heath has nary a recipe for bear in Good Poultry and Game Dishes, but there are about 99 other books we could try.