Sunday, February 5, 2012

Plucking Pheasants

Yesterday my husband went on a bow hunting pheasant adventure coordinated by The Rooster Ranch in Hilmar, CA and hosted at Stevenson Ranch in Merced County. It's a paid hunt and you can reserve as many birds as you feel like hunting. We had reserved six and he brought home four. "Damn good shootin'" according to the folks running the show.

Who's a pretty bird?
In all honesty, I've never plucked any sort of bird before, though that's only because no one has ever given me one with feathers on it. And as much research as I did on the topic of cleaning them, it really did not prepare me for coming face to beak with these beautiful, feathery and very dead creatures I knew I was about to pluck and disembowel.

I'd like to consider myself seasoned in the the ways of food. I have broken down full sides of beef into steaks a handful of times; I've gutted, scaled, and beheaded countless fish; and spatchcocked (yeah, I said it) more chickens than I can count. However, this particular feathery task was a bit off-putting.

After the kids finished a close prodding inspection of the pheasants and my initial shock wore off (kinda), I tried dry-plucking the colorful, feathery things and all I did was tear the skin -- not what I wanted at all! Also, they were still warm, so it was...well, awkward. I went for the wet plucking* option. I have finished two of the birds at this point and wet plucking is much easier.

After finally managing to pluck a quarter of the bird, I felt pretty triumphant when my feathery friend started to take the shape of something I finally recognized, "Hey! There is a little chicken in there!" I said out loud to myself. My husband laughed at me in the other room. It's a good thing there are four of them: I should be a pro by the end of this.

Tonight I come away with the thought:
The longer I live away from the city and in the central valley, the more the 'farm to table' mantra becomes a reality. It's not always pretty, but it sure does make you really appreciate your grub.
Happy Plucking~ 99% BitterSweet

* More info on wet and dry plucking can be found at the this link.

It's my new favorite blog for anything furry or feathery my husband might bring home while out shooting arrows.

[ Editor's note: we are not advocating hunting furries. Yiff. ]