Thursday, 21 October 2010

That pheasant I mentioned...

Hung for four days and ready for plucking
I lied.  Kind of.  By the time I published that last post the pheasant in the title was no longer hanging in the shed but had been taken down, plucked, drawn, pot roasted and eaten.  It was very good indeed. 

Plucking is best done out of doors
Right now, as I write, its carcass is in a pan with a leek, a carrot, an onion, some fennel, some celery, a couple of garlic cloves and a handful of herbs and spices, brewing up what will undoubtedly be a very tasty stock.  There’s enough meat pulled off it and set aside to make a “tagliatelle alla stuff we found” with the last of the winter chanterelles and trompettes.

This is the point the cleaver came into play
I’m not sure I’d describe the plucking and drawing of the bird as fun, but it is undoubtedly very satisfying in a hunter gatherer kind of way.  There’s also a principle being fulfilled.  If you are a conscientious meat eater you really should be prepared to do the messy (and in the case of the plucking, frankly tedious) stuff involved in turning the animal involved into the meat you eat.  Not only be prepared to, but, given the chance, to take the opportunity.  Okay, it falls some way short of actually killing the beast with your own two hands, but it’s a start.  Similarly I had a bit of an internal debate about whether or not to post the pics, but for the same reasons it was a very short and one sided debate.  My sincere apologies to any conscientious vegetarians they may offend (although you may have noticed already that this is not a particularly vegetarian blog...), but none at all to any squeamish carnivores.

As for advice on how to go about the actual processes of hanging, plucking and gutting, having done it the whole one time, I really don't feel best placed to offer much.  This guy, on the other hand, seems to know what he's talking about.  And of course, as with all things meat, I'd refer you to Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall and his excellent, utterly indispensable, Meat Book.  If you are a remotely serious and even slightly conscientious meat eater and you don't already have a copy, then you should either buy it or put it on your Christmas list now.  All I will say, from my own experience is this:  do the plucking outside, leave yourself plenty of time (it was late afternoon when I started and I finished in the dark), but go head and do it, it's really not hard.

I'll cover what I did with it, once plucked, drawn and cleaned, in my next post.

Gutted. Heart and liver at top right.
carcass cleaned and ready to cook

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