But something useful when you're in the field and you've got a partridge or quail to cook.
A little while later I got another partridge and was wondering what to do with it when I encountered a Russian woman who had a few birds of her own to prepare. The Russian women would snare the partridges. She told me to watch her and she would show me exactly what to do, and how to cook it as well.
I asked her if she wanted me to clean and pluck the bird while she prepared other things, and to my delight, she said no. Instead, she produced a small knife and quickly had the entrails out of my bird and hers too. She also cut the heads and feet off. Everything else, feathers and all, were still there and she started to mix some dirt and water to make mud. The birds were wrapped in this mud,, completely covered so the partridges looked like simple balls of mud. then the mud balls, each containing a partridge, were thrown into the fire that was burning outside her house. At that point she told me to go away for awhile and to come back in an hour or forty-five minutes.
My thoughts at this time were not exactly pleasant. I didn't like the idea of cooking birds which were still feathered. The thought of that mud was not the most pleasant either because dirt must be associated with dirty. This was not the meal I looked upon with the inviting senses I generall had, hungry or otherwise.
When I returned, the Russian woman said the birds should be ready, I was right on time. the balls of mud looked even worse than when I left. They looked like they were all burned, hard dry balls of charred earth. The woman used a stick and rolled them out of the fire, wearing a big smile all the time.
I wonder if I was being tricked. Russians were quite capable of doing dirty tricks. I would not have been too surprised to find out that this woman had destroyed her own partridges just to prevent me from enjoying my own. But those thought were wrong, she was teaching me a great thing.
She let the balls of mud cool for just a few moments and then she gave each mud ball a whack, just hitting it with her hand. That cracked the mud. Then she peeled the dried mud away and all the feathers and skin went with it. The only thing that was left was all that beautiful meat. She lifted the cook partridge out of the mud preparation and handed it to me.
By that time I knew she wouldn't try to poison me or play any dirty tricks so I tore a piece of meat from the bird and ate it. That was the very best fowl I ever ate, far better than chicken. It was so good! To say the least, I enjoyed that partridge far more than I expected to.
This was copied from H. Jung's book, But Not for the Fuehrer
, pages 250-251. It is an account of a German soldier who, as an engineer, was assigned to the Seventh Panzer Division in Russia. It was Rommel's old unit that helped him earn fame in France. The author states that he also used this technique to cook chicken or pork that way.
BTW, I'm told that the mountain folk of West Virginia cook chicken this way too.