Thursday, January 3, 2013

Pluck a Duck....

As part of our experience of living as much off the land as we can, we have had to face the challenge of turning what used to be cute fluffy little yellow ducklings into food. Our goal is to feed ourselves as much as possible with the produce we grow and the meat we raise, be it duck, chicken or beef. (Frans is contemplating a few sheep.... ) The cute animals that wander around the orchard or paddocks will sooner or later end up on our plates. Some folk can't come to grips with this concept. It seems easier to buy a packet of sausages in a supermarket on a tray, wrapped in plastic. Somehow the origin of this food is hidden away from consumers by the fancy packaging and clever marketing. We are happy to know that we are giving our animals a good life with quality food. In turn we are the beneficiaries of organically grown meat, eggs and vegetables. And so we did what we set out to do. We slaughtered a couple of ducks just before Christmas. Frans despatched the ducks humanely and out of sight of the other farm animals.
Our outdoor kitchen was set up under the trees in the shade.
Simple requirements: A pot of very hot water, a box for the feathers, a table, a couple of chairs and rubber gloves!
First the duck is sent to duck heaven. It is left to flop around for a while to drain it of excess blood. Then I dunked it into the hot water for a little while, jiggling it up and down. (wet duck feathers smell like wet dog!) Then quick work is required to start plucking the feathers. The rubber gloves serve two purposes. They make the grip the feathers better and enable the plucking to speed along quickly, and they keep your hands clean!

In just under an hour we managed to pluck two ducks. They were then cleaned properly, feet removed and skinned. I didn't want to keep the fatty skin as I didn't need it for the dishes I was going to use the meat for.
Two cleaned ducks. They were rested in the fridge for 24 hours. I then removed the breasts to make veal and duck terrine for Christmas and New Year. The remainder of the meat went into the freezer for another meal or two.

Our friend John came around after we'd done 'the deed' with a celebratory drink. How fitting! Thanks John!
And lucky me.... I received this glorious recipe book from two dear friends, who are off on a big trip to India soon. I so wished I could go with them. They know I love India and this was their treat to me.
Not only does Christine Manfield have some fabulous recipes in this tome, but the photography is stunning. It's a travel guide and gastonomical delight in one! And it just happens that there is a delicious looking recipe for... DUCK. So those two birds that are currently being kept in the freezer will be turned into a yummy Coconut Duck Curry this weekend.  
Keeping my spices up to date in the pantry is cruicial to my cooking on the farm. I need to know that I can turn out a curry, something Thai, French or Italian any night of the week without driving into town to pick up a missing ingredient. Special trips to Geelong and Melbourne usually include stops at spice shops and speciality stores. I would love to grow ginger, galangal and turmeric, but I think it's too cold here. I will have to give it a try! In the mean time, I have found that ingredients such as curry leaves, chilli, turmeric, galangal freeze well enough to be used in a culinary emergency!
Till next time...
Happy cooking!

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