Not for the faint of heart

Just a word of warning, this post may be too graphic for some – if you’re squeamish about dead things or are anti-hunting, anti-meat or anything along those lines: move along to another blog post.

If you’re in, here’s what happened. Last weekend was the end of the duck season in Texas, and my friend’s husband, nicknamed “Mr. F-ing Crafty”, went shooting. He had great success, and I was given two of the ducks – whole. While I may be adept at roasting a chicken from the grocery store and picking its carcass clean, or even brining and roasting a turkey – I’ve never been this close to where my meat comes from. After reading Girl Hunter I mentioned in a previous post that I’m really curious about this kind of endeavor – I want to hunt and butcher my own meat, purely out of respect for animals and to really understand where my food originates.

So here I am with two dead ducks, and just the simplest idea of what to do with them. Mr. Crafty had given me a few pointers, but the sun was going down and I needed to get these things cleaned and processed with the light I had left outside. I started by plucking them. The feathers were incredibly soft, and I had some crazy idea that I’d save them for some project, but as the pile of feathers mounted I realized that I had no idea how to keep them or use them. Then I got to the down. Zillions of tiny feathery-hairy down feathers. I realized later that I should have had a pot of water ready to scald the birds to remove these little downy feathers. Instead, I opted to remove the skin.

I won’t go through all of my mistakes, and I’ll try not to make this too gory, but here’s the right way to do it if you’re butchering at home:

  1. Bleed the bird. Scald the carcass by dunking it into water that’s heated to over 155 degrees F.
  2. Pluck the feathers.
  3. Remove the head and neck, then the feet.
  4. Gut the carcass, retaining the heart and gizzard if you choose to use them.

I didn’t do a very good job, sadly, but I’m studying up so I’ll do a better job next time. I’ll be using the breasts in a recipe, and I’m using the carcasses, giblets and heart for broth, along with the drake bones I have left from a previous recipe. It’s my goal to find a way to maximize use of the bird so that I can feel good about what I’m eating.

Giving thanks for the duck

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This entry was published on February 2, 2012 at 9:30 am. It’s filed under Crafty, Food and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

One thought on “Not for the faint of heart

  1. I know there are a lot of frech recipes using duck. You could start researching there.

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