Sunday, March 30, 2014

Coop-to-Table, A Chicken Adventure

Yolany had to climb inside the chicken coop because by the time we had killed with first two, the other chickens wised up and scurried away from the open door. She banged on the mesh wall with her hand to scare them toward me, and I reached unsuccessfully, reached again, tried to coax the fat chickens with kind, complementary words, and then finally got one.

He hardly struggled as I carried him around the side where we had been completing the circle of life with a basic kitchen knife. The trick is the wings, always hold tightly under or over the wings. And between Yolany, Gipsy and me (knife, wings and legs, respectively) the third chicken was dispatched from his happy, healthy chicken life.

Yolany looking a bit murderous and me looking a bit too muscley (it's the shadows.)
This wasn't the first "farm-to-table" activity I had participated it but it was certainly the first I had a hand in. It's been my belief for a while that if we're going to eat meat, we'd better be comfortable with where that meat comes from and how it came to be on your plate. This is how I ended up spending all day with the chickens, from coop to butchering to fryer - and what a glorious day it was!

I mean, this food had a fabulous life. They lived in a nice, airy coop with lots of space and lots of food, with a beautiful meadow view of both sunrise and sunset. Three of them feed over 30 people, a great spread of nourishment and deliciousness.

Preparing them takes a lot of time and so you finally realize how much effort it takes to get those little cluckers plastic wrapped and on sale of 2.99 a pound. Boiling water helps take off the feathers but it's still an arduous process, trying to get every little hollow feather stalk out of the pimpled skin. All the guts are still there, not just the ones in the complementary plastic bag. I kept marveling to my accomplices, Do you realize that this is someone's job? Some one does this all day!

The girls were patient with me as I hacked away at the feet and neck (no fancy tools, just a fairly blunt knife) and I asked a lot of questions. Mostly I waned about the poultry industry in America and how we always have to worry about diseases when we cook them. Can you imagine, plucking, gutting and slicing a chicken with little to no fear of illness? Sign me up for this way of living!

And so these chickens came to contribute to my fabulous life, marinaded in puree of onion and pepper, with mustard and cumin, then lightly battered in flour and fried over the fire by sweaty me, dripping and happy. Call me crazy, but not even the Farmer's Market can beat this connection to nature, food, and graciousness for life.

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