All has not been well in our poultry pen lately.
Our Indian Runner drake had been making a nuisance of himself, chasing down all the poor hapless female ducks and having his way with them. Even the pekins and muscovies!
It got so bad that one of our muscovy girls escaped the pen, and we just couldn’t keep her in. She was spending nights on the dam, risking life and limb with the foxes, just to try and get a bit of a break.
Something had to change.
I finally got time on the weekend to sort him out, while the kids were at the Jamberoo Recreation Park with friends (have I mentioned how much I love their season passes?!).
First, off with his head on the chopping block. That went to the dog as a special treat. Once he’d bled out, I hung him over my processing station, with butcher’s hooks through his ankles.
This drake was at least a couple of years old, so would be a bit tough. That usually makes them harder to pluck, too, and their skin isn’t as nice as a young bird. I was short on time to fire up the scalder, plus I was only doing one bird so it wasn’t really worth the fuss. All of which led me to skin this one.
First, I hosed the duck down to clear off any dirt and dust and to get the feathers all wet. I find this keeps the feathers under control so they don’t blow into everything, and makes the job a bit cleaner. Then I carefully cut around the ankles to open up the skin, and started peeling it back to expose the legs.
Once the legs were done, I continued cutting the skin around the front and back so I had fully exposed right around the body.
Working carefully, I then skinned upwards around the tail and vent. You have to be gentle here so you don’t tear the belly open and make a mess. Next I pulled the remaining skin downwards to expose the body down to the wings.
The wings are tricky to skin. They’re pretty scrawny on a duck, so I just cut them off at the first joint. Once the wings were done, one final pull downwards on the skin exposed the whole neck.
I jointed the duck at this point. I find it easier to to do now, before gutting it – it gives you better access later on.
With the parts all removed, all you’re left with is the tubular body. It’s quick and easy now to open it right up and clean it out.
Being a tough old bird, we cooked it in the pressure cooker. I followed a Nigel Slater recipe, but cooked it for about 30-40 minutes at full pressure instead of 15. He’s cooking a young tender bird; I’m trying to soften leather.
I put the neck, gizzard and carcass in the pressure cooker along with the rest of the cuts, and separated them out before serving. They add more flavour to the stock. After serving up our dinner (which was delicious!), I picked all the meat off the remaining carcass bits and returned it to the stock in the pot. I reduced it right down to a thick ragu, and froze it for a quick pasta dish another night.
Life in the poultry pen has been a lot more orderly ever since.