Thursday, November 19, 2009

Starling Pie, Anyone?

Whenever I write a book review I make it a point to fact check dates, names and other information to be sure my readers can trust my review. Sometimes that fact checking leads to something interesting that I hadn't expected. Here is a recipe I found when checking on the dates a professional hunter claimed to have taken a well known writer on safari. The recipe does not have anything to do with the book I reviewed but it is, well, interesting. Enjoy!

I found this in the April 23, 1956 issue of Sports Illustrated and is from the "SI Vault." This was written by the then Dallas Morning News outdoor writer Ken Foree.

That sedentary and eccentric genius of American detective fiction, Nero Wolfe, insists each spring on a starling dinner. To Wolfe, an unabashed and practiced gourmet, the little birds are an unsurpassable dish. Spring is here, there is no bag limit on starlings and, with this in mind, SI queried Mr. Wolfe for an appropriate recipe. Unfortunately he was closeted with his orchids and hence incommunicado. Rex Stout, however, who is Boswell to Archie Goodwin just as Archie is to Wolfe, is a starling man himself and gladly provided the following information for SI sportsmen: starling dinners are best enjoyed in April. Mr. Stout allows four birds to a guest and may shoot a few more than necessary as insurance against stringy oldsters or those hopelessly impregnated with shot. He feathers the birds and marinates them in red wine for 12 hours before broiling. Young, tender starlings may be ready after 25 minutes at moderate heat, but 40 minutes is average. Stout uses many sauces, but prefers an herby béarnaise laced with tarragon, fresh only (dried tarragon is too strong). He adds the tiniest dash of allspice and half a sage leaf to the basic sauce. "Flavor to taste," advises the famous author, "and deliberate a bit over whether or not half a bay leaf will add just about the right touch." To qualified female readers the genial Mr. Stout, though no Wolfe, offers a Goodwinesque suggestion: if they are between the ages of 22 and 26 and will submit a photograph for study, he will gladly consider cooking a platter of starlings for them.

© Sports Illustrated

I wonder if they were really writing about blackbirds? I'm sure the farmers around here would welcome a blackbird season every time they watch a cloud of the birds descend on their fields, especially the sunflowers.



Chas S. Clifton said...

Well, don't stop there. Are you going to make the dish? How does it take to "feather" a starling?

Galen Geer said...

I'll make a deal with you, when you come up next fall we'll get some and try the dish--how's that sound? glg