Plucking Birds

My main focus right now is gardening. However, part of my general focus is the attempt to become more seasonal with my life. As anyone who has lived seasonally knows, you can plan and plot and decide all you want, but in the end, you take what the season gives you.

Some time ago, there was a thread on a forum I frequent, asking if there was anyone interested in extra game meat. Her husband was such a good hunter that he could bring home more than the family needed. In order for him to hunt as much as he would like to, she needed to find homes for the extra game. The game would be “as-is” so whoever wanted it would have to clean it or have it cleaned themselves. I don’t have a truck for transporting or a chest-freezer for keeping game of any size, but I volunteered to take any fowl off her hands.

I’d almost forgotten about it when the first e-mail came to let me know that there were birds to be had in early December. I picked up four lesser-Canadian geese. I wasn’t sure I could handle that many, but she assured me that once I got them cleaned they’d pack down to a much smaller size.

How they arrived.

At her suggestion, I YouTubed “breasting out” geese. I also looked up cleaning them, but breasting them out seems to be the preferred method, as the breast meat is by far the bulk of the meat to be had. I plucked one for roasting just to see if I could do it, but I was on the deck and losing sunlight, so I breasted out the other three. I also pulled out hearts, livers, and feet. The feet are for broth, they help it gel, and I keep trying to convince myself that I need to learn how to eat offal. The hearts didn’t look to scary or weird and liver is, well, healthy. I ended up with one (slightly dilapidated) roaster, six breasts, four hearts, four livers, and eight feet. She was right, they take up a lot less room that way. Also, as a hint, plucking them inside a trash bag will keep the neighbors from complaining. Feathers still got everywhere, but in a somewhat lesser volume.

It's a messy process.

I was surprised at how un-squeemish I was about the whole thing. Aside from biology classes, I haven’t made it a habit of dissecting things, and I had been concerned that I wouldn’t be able to.

But it gets tidier.

That would seriously undermine my ability to eat meat once I became self-sufficient. However, after cleaning them, I had no qualms about tossing one of the fresh breasts into the frying pan. It cooks like chicken, but it sure doesn’t taste like it! It’s better!

Goose and kale- easy and delicious!

On Christmas Day, she gave me four mallards that were in need of similar treatment. They were done in two batches and were easier to pluck. Possibly because they were soaked a little in warm water first, at the suggestion of my uncle who has chickens. Two of them got plucked this time, and one was roasted for dinner that night.

A new plan . . .

I’m glad I started with Canadian geese. I don’t like them. Never have. That made it easy to dismember them and make me realize that I can do this.

Yes, I did figure out how to remove the neck prior to roasting. I think I want a cleaver for next Christmas, please.

The mallards, however, were a little different. I don’t have anything against them. In fact, I rather like them, so it was a little harder to pluck and dismember them. Unfortunately, that made the question of whether or not I could eat a chicken I’d raised a little less decided. I still don’t know if I can kill them, but my cleaning skills seem to just need practice. This also reinforces my desire to learn to hunt. Goose is good!

4 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by namelessw0nder on January 19, 2012 at 6:32 pm

    Nice! I am not sure if I remember you talking about this on MDA, but I’m definitely jealous about your fresh fowl. My freezer is very small so I don’t think I could keep multiple birds, even dismembered, in there.


  2. Oh, I did. I had to gush since it was such a cool thing to do- and the food was great.

    It’s surprising how much they shrink. The “But it gets tidier” picture is everything from four geese. Most of that actually fit on the door of my regular-sized freezer. If you just breast them out and don’t pluck them, you don’t have to worry about air-space in the cavity or bone-structure when you’re stuffing them in whatever space you have.


  3. I was surprised to read how much you enjoyed the taste of the goose – I’ve always heard that it’s very “gamey,” so I’ve never pushed my husband (who loves to hunt) to try for any. Maybe I need to rethink that decision!

    Heaven only knows there are Canadas all over the place around here, especially in the winter.


    • The lady who gave me the geese informed me that I was very brave to just pan-fry it- she tends to hide her game in other flavors, so I might not be the best person to take advice from! It was a little disconcerting to “see” liver but have a chicken-y texture. It does have more flavor than chicken, but less than the liver I keep trying to make myself eat.

      You know, if you let him take down one and it turns out you don’t like it, you still have one less goose to worry about! 🙂


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: