We did the deed, and I can now say I am no longer just a city girl, not yet a country woman. After much thought, we decided to put an end to Ed’s life. It’s possible I could have found a farm somewhere looking for a lone rooster, but I guess I wanted to save that rooster opening for another urban family that didn’t feel comfortable butchering a chicken in their backyard.
It wasn’t the most enjoyable way to spend a Saturday evening, but the whole process didn’t actually repulse either. My grandmother said it must be in our blood. She was referencing the fact that I am a direct descendant of Oregon Trail pioneers. My grandmother grew up raising and butchering chickens on their family farm in Oregon, and here I was providing food for the table the same way they did.
Ed’s life was pretty darn good. I nurtured the little guy from a chick, he spent a wonderful couple months in a clean and cozy coop with great flock members, and he got plenty of excess greens and goodies from the yard. When I came to collect him, I held him close to cuddle him so he calmed down. Then I gently held his feet, while I turned his body upside down. He half-heartily put out his wings, but gave up after about 2 seconds and just floated there. That made him passive enough to gently lay his head down on the stump, and Jay swung the ax.
We had read info online about how to butcher a chicken. The method we chose was cutting off the head. We then hung him upside down over a bucket to “bleed” him, which didn’t take more than a couple minutes for him to stop bleeding. We dunked the body in a big stock pot of boiling water that we brought outside, and shook the body gently for five seconds. Jay then proceeded to easily pluck off all the feathers.
Once the “outside work” was done, I took over for the “inside work”. It was a pretty scrawny carcase, but waste not. I brought the body inside and went to it. I cut off the feet. I made an incision under the breast, cut down to the tail, then cut around the tail. My hands felt around inside to loosen the inners from the body cavity. I pulled everything into a bucket. I also found the gizzard in the neck and cut that out. The process was a little smelly, but it went quick.
We prepared Ed into a French dish called Coq au Vin, which is traditionally made with rooster. (Thanks for the tip from Laura on a good rooster dish) I can see why it’s a good preparation. If you haven’t had rooster before, they are pretty chewy and tough. This dish gently simmers the meat in a pot of carrots, onions, mushrooms, and wine over a long period of time. We choose white wine since we seem to have an abundance of it right now.
Ed was delicious. Still a rooster, but the meat was falling off the bone and very flavorful from the recipe we used (there are a million recipes out there and you can use plain chicken in place of rooster).
The experience was interesting. I won’t say it was bad and it wasn’t something that was a real treat either. But we definitely savored our meal and appreciated knowing where it came from and that Ed had a humane, pleasant life prior to becoming dinner.