08 April 2010

Matilda and Me

 I began this post two weeks ago and ... well, life got in the way.  So here it is.  Finally. 

This post is not for the faint of heart. I know my sister will tell me I'm morbid for writing this. 

Oh well, it is what it is.  I'm a morbid person - I know this about myself and am okay with it. 

Meet Matilda...

Matilda, otherwise known as bird #12994, and I became fast friends today.  She taught me a lot about the processing and butchering of poultry. 

A little backstory... FFA is a big deal at the school at which I work.  Each year I have more than a handful of students who raise rabbits, chickens, lambs, goats and even an occasional steer to show in the area's Livestock Show and Rodeo. 

One of my students raised chickens this year and I was offered the opportunity to purchase one of these well cared for chickens after it had been "processed".  I jumped at the chance to support a student and to get a high quality bird for a great price - I ended up ordering two.  They arrived late last week and have been chillin' in my freezer ever since.

I let my bird thaw overnight and was so excited to get to work on her this afternoon.  I haven't done much butchering of poultry before and typically the whole chickens I do work with are pretty processed already. 
Not so with this girl.  I mean, her head had been snapped off, and she was plucked (for the most part), but she still had many of her internal organs.  And not just the regular things like the gizzard or the heart, I'm talking about other stuff. 

Do you see the artery on the left side and the kidneys on the right?
(they kind of got pushed out of the way there, but still the tale-tell bean shape)

Just a few of the many feathers I had to pluck

I quickly realized that we were going to become intimately acquainted as I finished cleaning her out and butchering her. If this was going to be the case then she was going to need a name.  She was so large and heavy that the name Matilda just seemed to fit. 

Job #1 was to get the backbone out.  I do not have good kitchen shears so this was more than a little difficult.  In fact, I ended up hacking a little too much off her right side and somehow dislocated her hip... yeah, don't ask.

Job #2 was to remove the keel (breast) bone.  This was a little more difficult for me.  Alton Brown makes it look so dadgum easy on TV.  Let's just say I got a little frustrated and raised my voice a little... poor Matilda, it's not her fault I'm inept.  I felt bad about it afterwards.

Success!!!  Keel Bone removed.

Job #3 was to flatten her out, rub her with the Jerk Spice Rub and then skewer her. 

My Girl, ready for the grill!

So far so good.  Or at least, so far, so adequate.  But this is where things go south... quickly. 

The idea was to grill her skin side down for 12 minutes with a weighted tray on top.  Then flip her and grill for 15 more minutes. 

It was beautiful weather, so I brought a drink and my laptop outside with me to patiently wait for Matilda to cook. 

My 'setup'

I made one fatal mistake - making the grill too hot.

OOPS!!! Someone call the Fire Department...

All that work and nothing edible to show for it!!!! I was a little disappointed. Well, I guess I must have been more than a little disappointed because R kept calling me "Grumpy Gus" the rest of the evening... even while we were eating our Chinese Food.

Change of Plans

I'm down, but not out.  I learned many valuable lessons and added several really important skills to my cooking repertoire. 

As Scarlett O'Hara said, "After all, tomorrow is another day."
... and I still have Matilda's sister, Helga, waiting for me in the freezer.


Eva A said...

You forget that two of your readers are nurses, and what may be gross and morbid to you can be quite interesting to us. I did love Matilda's hewelry--a nice touch.

E said...

No, Laura already emailed me to tell me it was morbid. Not gross, just morbid. She said the tag (or jewelry) was what did it for her. Maybe it's too much like the tag on the toe of people in the morgue.