Thursday, December 30, 2010

Preparing ducks for the freezer

The photos below include images of dead waterfowl.

If you are easily distressed - don't look.

Yesterday dawned bright and clear and for some reason that inspired me to get on with culling some of my ducks ready for the freezer.

I have kept these for too long really, well beyond growing on and into money pit levels, with them eating and eating despite having reached their peak weights.

With the chicken shuffle around the other day it just seemed to be the best time to get on with it.

They are Mulard ducks, which here means a Muscovy also known as a Barbary crossed with a Pekin, resulting in a big, sterile, predominantly white duck, hardy with thick plummage, fast growing and large areas of breast meat.

Long ago I gave up plucking ducks, except for the odd one or two for when I actually want one for roast duck and to conserve the fat.

My favourite technique for preparing them is to pluck a line along the breast bone, then slit the skin at the breast bone, peel back and expose both breasts then trim the meat from the bones.  Following the line of the meat, cut free the legs and pull back the skin then remove the feet either with a cleaver or snap the joint back and cut the tendon (the feet are the bits that the dog waits for and delights in most).

At this point you will be left with a skeleton with wings, head, tail and feathers attached and a full body cavitity.  If you want to recover the liver, this is easily done by breaking the rib cage open and scooping out the entrails to free the liver.

The other advantage to this way of preparing a bird apart from not having to pluck it completely is that you then do not have to cut around the vent and attempt to remove it and the fecal contents risking nicking them and contaminating the flesh.

 8 very large duck breasts and 8 large duck legs, skinless and ready for use.

Whatever method of dispatch you use, the birds have to bleed out.

I hang the birds by the feet and break their necks by pullling down and back sharply.  Death follows swiftly and a sharp knife ensures that they bleed out fully before starting on plucking.

They can also be more easily dispatched with a .22 pellet through the fontanella but will still need their throats slitting to bleed out fully.

They will flap madly in their death throes so a bit of baling twine at the wing joint helps minimise this.

Plunging into hot water can make plucking easier, but to be honest I find that doing it while the bird is warm is the best time and the quills are at their easiest to pull out freely.

I am now left with 3 geese of which one should already be in the freezer and another 2 ducks to be done.

But the surfeit of rabbits is next on the agenda.

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