So last night we had Battle Chicken! Also known as Clara deconstructs the bird. Or maybe Still Life with Chicken, Two Knives, Poultry Shears, and a Laptop.
How ever you slice it, dice it, chop it, or pull it apart, last night marked the first time I've disassembled a chicken for eating purposes. This is one of those times where I reconsider the need to get myself a Flip UltraHD Camcorder to amuse myself and others. As it is you are going to have to suffer without video or pictures. Why? Because I wasn't touching the camera with chicken covered hands! Food safety is always a priority in the kitchen at Chez Clara.
So the bird in question was a 4 pounder provided by a local chicken rancher. It was purchased over the weekend at Ye Olde Local Farmers Market. It arrived plucked, beheaded and defooted. It also arrived frozen solid. After a bath in running water, the bird was thawed enough to make my attempt at dis-assemblage. First off, I tried calling my cooking trifecta (Mom, BG, and CL) to see if any of them had suggestions on what to watch out for. Of course, since it was Sunday night, none of them answered the phone.
What's a novice cook to do? Hit up Google. A few clicks later I found a likely site with reasonable instructions. Looks pretty simple yes?
First challenge, unlike all the pretty chickens I found on the web, mine still had the full neck. Good for stock making, a little challenging for following directions which all seemed to have the neck removed. As a side note, I also discovered my poor wee chicken was missing a wing! Fraud! And they didn't even give me an extra drumstick for my trouble!
So the chicken I had didn't match the picture. What do I do? Those who know me well dread the next word-improvise!
Improvise in Claraspeak means start poking things and see what happens. I figured I had poultry shears, two knives, and loved biology and anatomy. What could go wrong?
First note- correct type of knife is probably helpful. 6-1/2-Inch Santoku Knife was not ideal. It was also possibly not sharp enough.
Second note- No love to the Rachel Ray poultry shears. DULL, DULL, DULL!
Third note- Cats need to be contained in the back room. Having to fight Tico for the chicken wing? Not cool.
Fourth note- With time and persistence, you can indeed produce two piles of chicken parts. One edible, the second for stock.
I swear I looked like one of those scenes from a bad horror flick where the bad guy is going to town on someone. Thankfully I was able to contain the chicken debris mostly to the counter area. The lone chicken wing was sacrificed to my Fuzzy Minion Overlords, who gnawed on it for about a minute before realizing they don't like chicken.
Humor aside, I have a huge deal of respect for the food which goes on my plate. In particular meat. I've got a wide range of friends who eat vegetarian and vegan. I personally do mostly plants, but still like my meat. I've always understood that my dinner comes from something that was previously living. Having to disassemble your dinner just helps re enforce that. This animal is worth my respect. Choosing quality raised animals from quality living conditions is part of my effort to respect the food chain.
Because we are so separated from where our food comes from, it's easy to just think of tossing parts. I gotta tell you, after going through the process to get this chicken ready for eating, it's a good eye opener. As a fitness person, I've eaten more than my share of chicken, but only specific parts of the chicken (breast and tenderloin to be exact). There's a lot more to my bird. It makes me think about how much of things I will use, and what I need to do in order to be respectful and not waste what I've got.
Do I have answers? Not yet, but I'm asking the right kinds of questions. I'm reminded that each and every item of food, be it local or strange food product has a story. Food doesn't live in a vacuum, and each food decision you make has an impact.
It's up to each individual to determine what that impact really means.