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Roast Passenger Pigeons
2 Passenger pigeons
1/4 lb Country ham, diced fine
3/4 c Parsley, chopped
1 ts Sweet herbs
1 1/2 ts Mace
1 Stick butter, softened
1 c Chestnuts
2 Chicken livers plus those from pigeons, cooked and chopped
2 ts Cinnamon
Roast and chop the chestnuts. Mix with ham, livers, parsley, one teaspoon nutmeg, one teaspoon mace, and the sweet herbs. Stuff pigeons with the mixture, packing tightly.
Truss birds with cotton cord. Coat hens with a mixture of butter and remaining spices.
Cook on a spit or grate, turning every ten minutes, basting with remaining butter, for about an hour to an hour and a quarter.
NOTE: This is an 18th Century recipe that may use squab or gamehen for Passenger Pigeon, since the last Passenger Pigeon died in the Cincinnati Zoo at the age of 20, in 1912. It was once the most common bird in North America. Changes in the environment such as removal of the forests and incessant hunting reduced the population of these large doves, by the last quarter of the 19th Century to small flocks that were no longer able to maintain their populations due to pressure from man. The flocks at one time would literally blacken the skies for hours as the pigeons passed above. The flocks each contained many millions, perhaps billions, of birds. The Passenger Pigeon (Ectopistes migratorius) is tragically, extinct.
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