Florence White, perhaps the original rescue archeologist, includes several recipes for roast cygnet in Good Things in England, the book that recorded her tireless efforts to save English dishes that verged on extinction before it appeared in 1932. Nobody at britishfoodinamerica has the desire to a cook a juvenile swan, even tough it would taste much like goose, but the beef based stuffings from two of the recipes are intriguing and work well with chicken. This recipe combines elements of two others, one from the renowned nineteenth century chef Francatelli, the other “a family recipe belonging to Lady Grantham, Barcombe Place, near Lewes, Sussex” and till being prepared when Miss White published Good Things.
- about ¾ lb finely chopped (but not ground) sirloin
- a beaten egg
- zest of a small lemon
- generous Tablespoon chopped fresh herbs (a mixture of whatever you like)
- scant ¼ teaspoon mace
- 1 Tablespoon parsley
- 2 minced shallot
- 4 Tablespoons tawny Port
- salt and pepper
Combine the ingredients and stuff the bird.
Buy the cheapest sirloin, not something like a shell or New York strip. The British equivalent is rump steak, a completely different cut from the American one of the same name.
We have added the egg.
Francatelli’s stuffing is nothing but beef, nutmeg and shallot seasoned with salt and pepper.
Lady Grantham’s cook minced (or ground) her beef. You can too but the texture of the chopped meat is more agreeable. Chopping beef fine can be an arduous procedure with a dull knife, less so with a sharp one and effortless other than the cleanup if you pulse the meat in a food processor.
For an altogether different and equally intriguing flavor substitute a dryish Madeira for the Port. Cheap fake Paul Masson will do the trick.