I certainly recommend that any omnivore within our society should have a more hands on approach with the animals' lives that they consume. I don't wish to make this a full political post about animal rights or anything but just wanted to express my concern about people that are so far removed from the source of their meat that they cannot stomach the sight of offal or uncooked meat. Both Dan and I have made a pact to only eat ethically reared meat from within the UK. This ensures that our food miles are down and that we don't eat meat too often. That's alright though, because we always have an abundance of vegetables.
Today I became a little more acquainted with dinner. Dan's brother, Leon, is a keen hunter, who, in the season, takes his lovely Labrador, Fern and goes to the local hunting ground to collect his dinner. Today he brought us ours.
He brought us two ducks and four pheasant (3 females and 3 males) from a hunting ground that specifically rears birds to be shot and consumed by us.
Be careful if you're a bit squeamish. If you click through, there are some pretty graphic photos.
The first stage of the plucking. Here I am removing the breast feathers of the female duck which are so soft. My mother, who used to tell me stories of plucking turkeys at the farm in Idaho, would be proud.
Here's Dan doing the second stage. Thankfully, Leon was patient enough to give us full tutelage so we know enough to do the other four birds on our own. After the main plucking, the wings, and feet are removed, the bird is plucked some more and finally the bird is gutted and beheaded. It didn't smell near as bad as I expected. We also chopped its tale off, which would've been odd if we had left it on.
Before they reach this clean stage, the downy feathers are burnt off with a lighter, or even better, a blow torch. The bird is then fully rinsed. Here you can see the male duck (on the left) which had a much simpler ending than the female duck on the right, which had about 6 shot holes throughout and was pulled from the water by Fern which broke its wing on the way out. At least I know what this bird went through for me to get a meal.
We ate the male duck tonight with some roast vegetable. Dan filleted the female duck and made a stock with the skeletons. I used a touch of the stock to make a brillant rich gravy. The duck was superb. Better than I've ever eaten before.
Here are the four pheasants hanging up in our shed. We'll leave them until next Sunday when they'll be just about ripe for the eating. We're going to slow cook them for a game pie. One bird per person is generally a good rule. How pretty are the feathers?