Chap. III. – Carving, pp.266-287.

[Carving Contents]

General Observations.

   THE seat for the carver, whether lady or gentleman, should be sufficiently high, to prevent the necessity of rising, and to command a proper view of the table. The carving knife should not be too large, and of a fine edge; a steel should be placed beside the carver. Strength is not so much required as address and practice. Orders should be given the butcher to divide the larger joints of meat; but it is preferable to break and make it ready for the table after it comes home, as they generally cut too deep and spoil the piece. Such parts as the neck, breast, loin, and saddle, of mutton, lamb, or veal, if properly broke and divided, makes it easy for the carver to cut them down; and when the flesh upon a bone, or between ribs, would be too much, a slice may be taken out betwixt them. 

   Joints, or pieces that are fleshy, such as a leg, saddle of mutton, fillet of veal, or beef, should be cut in thin slices, very neat and smooth, making the knife go down to the bone each slice. 

   When the dish is too far removed from the carver, it not only has an awkward appearance, but renders the operation extremely disagreeable and difficult. 

   When there is a large party, upon cutting up wild fowl, duck, goose, or turkey, if you cut the slice from pinion to pinion, without making wings, there will be a greater number of prime pieces. 

   Fish being generally served before, and poultry after meat, I shall begin with fish. 

   When helping fish, endeavour to preserve the flakes whole; which, in fresh salmon and cod are very large; it contributes much to its appearance. On this account, the fish trowel, or knife, is best adapted for dividing it. With the fish help part of the roe, melt, or loin, to each person who may chuse it. The heads of carp, and parts of those of cod and salmon, cod sounds, and fins of turbot, are also much esteemed by many. 


   Observe, in helping this fish, that the belly is fatter and richer than any other part, therefore give, to those who like both, a small piece of each. The cut out of the belly is made in the direction c, d; and the other, out of the back, in the line a, b. Some also like the skin, to such cut thin slices with the skin on. 


   Slit the fish along the back from the shoulders to the tail, and lay it over; do not go too near the head, as it is often discoloured. The roe of some mackarels is soft, others hard and plump; it is usual to ask whether a soft or a hard roe is preferred. 

Cod’s Head.

   A cod’s head and shoulders, when in season and properly dressed, is a very handsome dish. It should be cut with the fish trowel; the parts about the back bone, on the shoulders, are the best and firmest; take off a piece quite down to the bone, and in a direct line with the eye where it divides. With each slice of the fish give a piece of the sound which lies under the back bone and lines it, the meat of which is thin, and rather darker coloured than the fish itself; to get at it, pass the fish knife under the bone towards the head. About the head are many delicate parts, some fine kernels, and a great deal of the jelly kind, which lie about the jaw bones and the firm parts within the head. Some are fond of the palate, others the tongue; which may be got by putting a spoon into the mouth, in a line with the under part of the back bone. 

   The stomach of cod and haddock, when carefully washed and left with the head, is esteemed a great delicacy. 


Are never sent to the table whole; the tail is the most esteemed part, and next to that the claws. 

Edge Bone of Beef.

   The outside of meat, when boiled, is much impaired in its flavour; for which cause, a slice an inch thick is generally cut off the whole length and breadth of the meat before the company is helped, beginning at a, over to b. The soft fat which lies on the back of the bone below d, very much resembles marrow; the firm fat must be cut in thin horizontal slices, at the edge of the meat c. From a difference of taste, it will be proper to ask each which they prefer. The upper part, placed as above represented on the dish, is fullest of gravy, enriched with fat, and most tender; the under side, though lean and dry, is by some preferred. 

Brisket of Beef.

   This part is generally boiled, and cut in neat slices, in the direction of a b, quite down to the bone. This is an excellent piece, and more so if corned; the fat on the upper slice is gristly and firm, but underneath is a softer and more delicate fat for those who prefer it. 

Part of a Sirloin of Beef.

   For most families a whole sirloin is too large, the cut above represents part of one standing up in the dish, to show the inside, or upper part; bụt when sent to table it is laid down, and the part c lies close on the dish; the part c d, is then uppermost, and the line a b, underneath. First cut off the outside slice quite down to the bone, in the direction c d; the flesh on the upper side of the ribs is firm and close, underneath the flesh is soft and tender, and by many preferred; it is often cut through the middle and cut in slices in the direction of a b, down to the bone; therefore, inquire whether the outside or inside is preferred; let the slices be of a moderate thickness, and give with each piece some of the fat. The inside may be prepared thus, and eats very delicately. Mince the meat in pretty large pieces, with a good deal of the fat; sprinkle it with salt, pour shalot vinegar, boiling hot, mixed with the gravy over it, and help upon hot plates, with a spoon, as quick as possible. 


   A ham may be cut three ways; the first, and most common method, by long slices from b to c; the second, by taking out a small piece in the middle at a, and cutting thin circular slices, which is said to preserve the gravy and keep it moist. The third, and most saving way, is to begin at the hock end, (of which many are fond) and proceed onwards. Ham used for pies, &c. should be cut from the under side, after taking off the outside slice. 

Half a Calf’s Head

Makes a most excellent dinner dish, and has a great deal of meat upon it. Cut slices from the nostril to the neck in straight lines, making the first run immediately under the eye; cut the fleshy part of the neck end in a direct line from the ear down to the lower jaw, where you will find the throat sweet bread, of which help a part with the other. Many are also fond of the eye, which take out with the point of the knife and divide it. When the jaw is taken off some very rich lean will be found round it; under the head is the palate, much esteemed by many. 


   A tongue should be cut across about the thickest part, and slices taken from it towards the root, which are most tender and juicy; help a small piece of fat and kernel to those who chuse it. 

Leg of Mutton.

   A leg of wether mutton (which is preferred on account of its superior flavour) is known by the kernel, or round lump of fat, above the letter a. This joint, whether boiled or roasted, is carved in the same manner. If boiled, it should be served as ii appears in the cut, upon its back; but if roasted, turned over, as represented in the ham. The carver should turn the joint towards him, with the shank to his left hand; hold it steady with the fork, make a deep cut in the fleshy part of the hollow of the thigh quite to the bone, in the line of a b, which goes through the kernel of fat called the pope’s eye, of which many are fond; help in deep thin slices, forward to e. From the line a b, to e, will be found the best and most juicy parts; others prefer the drier part about the shank, called the venison part. There are also very fine slices to be got on the back of the leg; turn it up and cut the broad end, not in the same direction as the other side, but length ways. The fat lies along the ridge, e e, &c. and is cut in the direction e f. To cut out the cramp bone, take hold of the shank with your left hand and cut down to the thigh bone at d; pass the knife under the cramp bone in the direction d c, and it is cut out. 

Shoulder of Mutton.

   This joint is by many preferred to the leg, being very full of gravy, when properly roasted, and producing a number of very nice bits; the figure above represents it as laid in the dish with its back uppermost. The shank bone should be wrapt round with writing paper, that the carver may turn it at pleasure; the first cut is made in the hollow part in the direction a b, making the knife go down to the bone; the gravy immediately runs out, the part opens, and many fine slices are cut from it. The best fat lies on the outer ridge, and is cut in thin slices in the direction e f. When a number are at table, and the hollow part in the line a b, all helped away, some very good and delicate slices may be cut out on each side of the ridge of the blade bone, in the direction c d. The line betwixt these dotted lines shows the ridge of the blade bone, which cannot be cut across. 

   This cut represents the under side, where there are two parts very full of gravy, which many prefer to the upper side. One is by a deep cut in the line g h, accompanied with fat, and the other all lean, in a line from i to k. The parts about the shank, although coarse and dry, are by some preferred to the more rich and juicy parts. 

A Saddle of Mutton.

   The chine, or saddle of mutton, is two loins together, the back bone running down to the tail. It is cut in long slices, beginning at the back bone in the direction of a b; but if the slice be too long, divide it. When the tail is left on, it is much liked by many, and is easily divided by cutting between the joints; help also some fat from the sides. 

Fore Quarter of Lamb.

   Separate the shoulder from the breast and ribs (or scoven coat) by passing the knife under in the direction of e, d, g, c, as in the above cut, keeping it towards you horizontally, to prevent cutting the meat too much off the bones. If a large quarter, lay the shoulder upon another plate, and squeeze the juice of half a lemon, or Seville orange, upon the other part; sprinkle a little salt and pepper and lay the shoulder over it again; then separate the gristly part from the ribs in the line f g, which finishes the preparatory operation. The ribs are most esteemed; two or more may easily be separated from the rest in the line a b, and to those who prefer the gristly part a piece or two may be cut off in the line k i. If the shoulder is very large, as in grass lamb, it is carved in the same manner as directed for a shoulder of mutton, p. 274. 

Fillet of Veal.

   This part is the same as the round of beef in the ox. The outside skin is by many much liked, therefore, ask whether the brown outside be chosen; if not, lay it down and proceed to take off another, which will be exceeding white and delicate; cut it even and close to the bone. If the bone has been taken out, and the meat tied close, before dressing, the fillet will be quite solid, and should be cut in thin slices, very smooth. A stuffing, or delicate pudding, may be put into the flap, which should be cut so as let every one that chuses have a part along with a slice of fat; the fat, while roasting, should be covered with sheets of paper to preserve it, as it is apt to dry up. A round, or buttock of beef, is cut in the a same manner. 

Breast of Veal.

   The part called the brisket is thickest and full of gristles; put the knife about four inches from the edge of this and cut through it, which separates the ribs from the brisket; then ask which is chosen, and help accordingly, the gristle part in pieces, or the ribs cut down and divided; serve also a piece of the sweetbread to each. 

A Pig.

   A pig is seldom sent whole to table, the cook usually takes off the head, splits the body down the back, and garnishes the dish with the chops and ears. First separate the shoulder from the carcase, then the leg of one side, according to the dotted line c, d, e, in the cut. The most delicate part is about the neck, which cut off in the line f g; the ribs are the next best, and are divided into two, helping in the line a, b, with an ear, or jaw, and plenty of sauce. The joints may be divided in two, or pieces may be cut from them; the bones of a pig are merely gristles, therefore, a piece from any part may be helped without difficulty. By some the ribs are reckoned the finest part, but it produces so many choice and delicate bits, that the palate of most may be gratified. 

Spare Rib of Pork.

Cut slices out of the thick part at the bottom of the bones, and, when the fleshy parts are all done, separate and help the bones, which are very sweet picking. Very few admire the gravy of pork, for which cause it is served with a sauce prepared for it. 

Leg of Pork.

   This joint, whether boiled or roasted, is sent to table as a leg of mutton, and carved in the same manner; the close firm flesh about the knuckle, is by many esteemed the best. 

Haunch of Venison.

   Cut it first across down to the bone, in the line b, c, a, as in the above cut, to let out the juice; then turn the broad end of the haunch d towards you; put in the point of the knife at c and cut as deep as you can to the end of the haunch d, in a direct line; then help in thin slices, cutting them either from the right or left. The fat lies deep on the left side, between d and a, and to those who are fond of it (which is a favourite part) the best flavoured and fattest slices will be found on the left of the line c d, the end d being turned towards you. In helping take care to proportion the fat and gravy, that each may have a part; let the slices be moderate, not too thick or thin; currant jelly should be placed beside, for any who chuse it. 

A Haunch of Mutton,

Is the leg and part of the loin cut so as to resemble a haunch of venison, and is carved in like manner. 


   The above cut represents the hare as trussed and sent to table. A skewer runs through the two shoulders, the point of which is d; another passes through the mouth at a, into the body, to keep the head in its place; and two others through the roots of the ears in the direction b c, to keep the ears erect. The skewers are removed when the hare is to be served. 

   If the hare is young, the best way of cutting it up is, first to put the point of the knife under the shoulder at g, and cut through all the way down to the rump on one side of the back bone, in the line g h; do the same in like manner on the other side, by which the hare will be divided into three parts; cut the back through the spine, or back bone, into four pieces, in the lines i k. The back being the tenderest and most full of gravy, is esteemed the most delicate. The shoulders are then cut off in the line e, f, g; lay the pieces neatly on the dish as you cut them, then help the company, and to each give a spoonful of the stuffing, or pudding, in the belly, below the letters k, and a spoonful of gravy; separate the legs from the back bone and cut them from the belly. The flesh of the leg is next in estimation to the back, but the meat is more close and firm, and less juicy; the best part of the leg is the fleshy part of the thigh at h, which should be cut off. Some are fond of the head, brains, and neck; cut the ears off at the roots, put the head upon a plate with the nose towards you; hold it firm with a fork, that it may not slip; introduce the point of the knife into the skull between the ears, force it down, and di vide the head in two down to the nose at a

   If an old hare, put the knife close to the back bone, between it and the leg, and so cut it off; but as the hip bone may be in the way, turn the back of the hare towards you and endeavour to hit the joint between the hip and the thigh bone. When both legs are taken off, there is a nice collop on each side of the back bone; cut a long narrow slice or two in the direction g h, then divide the back bone into three or more parts, passing the knife between the several joints of the back; take off the shoulders, which are called the sportsman’s pieces, and are by many preferred. 

   Carve Rabbits in the same way as directed above for the old hare, cutting the back into two pieces, which, with the legs, are most esteemed. 


   Cut the apron off by the dotted line, f, e, g; if the goose is not stuffed have ready mixed two glasses of port wine with a teaspoonful of mustard, which pour into the body. Have the neck end of the goose towards you, and cut the breast in long slices on each side, in the direction a b, down to the bone, removing them only as you help each person, (this affords more prime pieces, when the company is not large.) Then, turning up the goose, proceed to take off the leg; put the fork through the small end of the leg bone, and pressing it close to the body make the knife enter at d; raise the joint well, then pass the knife under the leg in the direction d e, turn the leg back, and if a young goose it will easily separate. Next take off the wing, pass the fork through the small end of the pinion and press it close to the body; enter the knife at the notch c, and pass it under the wing in the direction c d, dividing the joint; accuracy in hitting the joint can only be obtained by practice. After taking off the leg and wing of one side, do the same on the other; but this is not often necessary, except in very large parties, where the whole goose must be cut down. Take off the merrythought in the line i h; then the neck bones, and likewise the back and sidesmen, which are cut in the same manner as directed for a roast fowl. 

   The parts most esteemed are the slices from the breast, the fleshy part of the wing which is divided from the pinion, the thigh bone, or drumstick, the pinion, and the side bones. A goose is generally stuffed with sage and onion, which should be helped with a spoon after the apron is cut off, along with some gravy. 

A Duck.

   You first raise the legs and pinions without cutting them off; then raise the merrythought from the breast and cut slices from both sides of it. 

Roast Fowl.

   The above cut represents the fowl as lying on its side, with a leg, wing, and neckbone, taken off. A roasted fowl is sent to table in the same manner as a pheasant, only without the head. Lay the fowl on your plate, and cut off the joints in the lines a, b, d; lay them neatly in the dish. The wing is cut off in the direction a b, separating the joint with the knife; then, with the fork, lift up the pinion, drawing the wing towards the legs, which makes the muscles separate. Slip the knife between the leg and body and cut to the bone; then, with the fork, turn the leg back, and the joint, if it is a young fowl, will give way. Having thus removed the four quarters, proceed to take off the merrythought and neck bones; the first, by cutting across the breast in a half circle down to the neck; the last is done by putting in the knife at g and pressing it under the long broad part of the bone in the line g b; lift it up and break it off from the part which adheres to the breast bone, then divide the breast from the carcase by cutting through the tender ribs on each side from the neck to the tail. Next lay the back upwards, place the edge of the knife in the line b, e, c,  press it gently at the same time with the fork, lift up the lower end and it will easily separate; then turn the lower part of the back upwards in your plate with the tail from you, cut off the sidesmen by forcing the knife through in the line e f, and the whole will be done. 

Boiled Fowl.

   Boiled fowl is divided in the same way as the roasted fowl, the legs of which are bent inwards and tucked into the belly; before it is served remove the skewers. In the above cut, the fowl is represented whole; the breast, wings, and merrythought, are generally esteemed the best parts; the legs of young fowls are most juicy. The leg should be separated from the drumstick at the joint, by introducing the knife into the hollow, then turning the thigh bone back. 


   The above cut represents the bird ready trussed for the spit, with the head under one of its wings. When served the skewers are withdrawn. Fix the fork in the breast, at the two dots, by which means you have the command of the bird in turning it. Slice down the breast in the lines a b, take off the leg on one side in the direction d e, or in the circular dotted line b d; then cut off the wing on the same side in the line c d; do the same on the other side, and then cut off the slices of breast before divided. It requires some attention and practice in taking off the wings to hit the notch a; for if you should cut too near the neck in the line a g, you will hit on the neck bone, from which you must separate the wing. Cut off the merrythought in the line f g, by passing the knife under it, cutting down towards the neck; the other parts are cut in the same manner as directed for a roast fowl. The breast, wings, and merrythought, are most esteemed, but the leg has a higher flavour. 


   In the above cut, the bird is represented trussed, as taken from the spit; the skewers are withdrawn before serving. In carving it follow the directions for roast fowl, p. 283, 284. The wings are taken off in the lines a b, and the merrythought in the line c d. The most esteemed parts are the wings, breast, and merrythought. The tip of the wing is reckoned the most delicate morsel of the whole. 


   No. 1. represents the back, and No. 2. the breast, of the pigeon. They are sometimes carved in the same manner as chickens, but, from their small size, they are more generally cut in two, either from neck to tail, or across. Fixing the fork at the point a, and entering the knife just before it, divide the pigeon in two, cutting in the lines a b, and a c, No. 1.; at the same time bringing out the knife at the back in the direction a b, and a c, No. 2., which is the most fashionable way. The lower part is generally thought the best; dividing them from neck to tail is the fairest way. 

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