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Monday, September 06, 2010

Pluck, Pluck, Goose!

I had my first experience with Alaskan birds this weekend. My friend, Danielle, invited me over to teach me how to pluck ducks and geese. We started with plucking the ducks. We plucked 4 ducks. You start by plucking the belly of the bird and pull the feathers up against their direction of growth.The ducks were difficult to pluck because the feathers dont come off very easily. The ones we plucked were blue bill ducks. After plucking them, we also gutted them and cut them into pieces. I traded Danielle some of my halibut for the birds. Our bird cleaning station consisted of a piece of card board to pluck on and a trash bag or bucket to put all of the feathers in. I did keep some of the really small, fine feathers from the goose head to use when I'm making homemade paper.
After we had finished with the ducks, we plucked 4 geese. Two of the geese were black foot geese and 2 of them were orange foot geese. Clearly this is not their scientific name, but this is what Danielle called them. Most likely they are Canadian geese. Danielle said that she likes the orange foot geese the best. It has the best flavor. The geese were much easier to pluck. The feathers came off much easier, although for this goose, the skin cam off as well.We also had a couple of swan to prepare, but these get skinned rather than plucked because they are so big, have so many more feathers, and much thicker skin. I was amazed by how large the swans were. It probably weighed 30 pounds.
Danielle's mom came over to show us how to skin the swans. She started by removing the ends of the winds from the last joint. Then she cut the skin up the belly and began peeling it away from the meat a little at a time using the ulu knife.Here's what it looked like after it was completely skinned. It was a big bird with alot of meat. Almost all of the parts of the birds were saved to be cooked, even the feet, neck, hearts, gizzards, tongue, and brains. Danielle told me that different members of her family like different parts of the birds, including the butt.Last night, I cooked a couple of the ducks for dinner. I was expecting them to taste very gamey because Danielle had warned me that they were and also told me that she liked the flavor of the ducks the least. Avery and I both ate them last night and thought they were delicious. I took some over and shared with my neighbor who also thought they turned out very good. It is a little bit different because the meat is soooooo dark, but the flavor was really very good.
We even ate the hearts!!!You should have seen the look on Avery's face when I told him that he had just eaten a duck heart! Priceless! The other ducks, geese, and swan parts were put into freezer bags to be frozen and cooked up later this winter.
I feel so fortunate that Danielle was nice enough to invite me in to her home, teach me how to pluck, and give me so much meat. Hopefully, I will be able to cook up the rest of the birds as successfully as I did the first couple. Traditionally the birds were used in soups with root vegetables. I told Danielle's mom that I would invite her over when I make my first bird soup so she can try it and tell me if I made it right!


Crystal said...

You are out of control!LOL That does not look very appitizing.. "SWAN", really? What did that taste like? Now I've had some wild animal but not no swan. She just didn't look right. How are you guys? We're are soo busy with football and cheer leading I haven't had time to sit and look at your blog:( Time is running out we're late to football so I'll talk to ya soon:)

Kassia said...

I am totally grossed out right now. Thanks a lot ;)

Tamara said...

Ummmm, I'm sure that was a great experience...but I couldn't look after the first two pictures, so I scrolled quickly with my eyes scrunched shut. Ick :-)