Posts Tagged ‘cleaning birds’

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!