(Warning! This blog contains graphic material disguised with questionable humor. Vegetarians and readers who only eat meat from cellophane packages are advised to proceed with caution.)
How not to skin a bird.
Step one: Completely ignore the possibility that you may one day need to skin a bird.
Close your eyes to the hunter gatherer lifestyle of the region you’ve chosen to live in. Pay no heed to the frequency that self slaughtered main dishes are served in your neighborhood each week. Disregard the fact that you married a man so enamored with the bounty of edible wildlife around you that, in lieu of lunch, he tromps through the woods daily “just to look”.
Step two: When the aforementioned husband informs you that the .22 rifle he is carrying is only “to scare away bears”, believe him.
Step three: When the day arrives (as it undoubtedly will) that this same husband wanders up the driveway with the warm carcass of a plump Spruce hen, assume the poor bird died of natural causes and that your husband brought it home to bury. Immediately. Then toss common sense out the window, unlock the door and let both husband and bird in.
Step four: Unwittingly volunteer to be a party to slaughter by stupidly exclaiming “And I suppose you think I’m going to cook that! (Note to self: work on your sarcasm and stop emphatic gesturing with flat up facing palms.)
Step five: Put bird down and make a drink.
Step six: Completely space out that you know at least five people in a two mile radius who would willingly take the bird off your hands and instead rifle through your books looking for a game processing guide.
Kick yourself for ever making that purchase.
Step seven: Open the game guide to chapter on foul handling. Do not read. Lay book next to bird on the kitchen counter and attempt to butcher line by line.
GG: Grab bird firmly by the feet.
GG: Make incision around the vent hole.
? Get dictionary. Oh, vent hole.
(If you are still lost: a vent is the one hole in a bird that is not anywhere near its head.)
GG: Poke fingers through incision and into bird all the way up to its neck. Rotate fingers to loosen all the organs. Remove everything making sure to not puncture the intestines or gall bladder.
Step eight: Do none of this. Remove a store bought Cornish hen from freezer and compare with Spruce hen.
Spruce hen: tiny, wild, dark meat.
Cornish: fat, farmed, and white.
Chance of swapping the two and not being found out: 5%. Sigh.
Step nine: Remove bird innards.
Step ten: Take a moment to fling bird guts at children. Totally gross them out. Enjoy a good laugh at their expense. OK, that’s enough. They’re just kids.
Step eleven: Return to game guide. Read paragraph on cleaning a bird without using water because it encourages bacterial spread. Fight the urge to quit and take a shower. Continue reading.
GG: Pluck feather away from carcass. Avoid tearing the skin.
Pluck, pluck, pluck, rrrrrip!!
Step twelve: Reread last passage. Decided that authors meant ‘avoid’ as a loose suggestion. Continue plucking.
Pluck, pluck, rrrrip!
Stupid game guide.
Step thirteen: Violently tear every remaining bit of skin and feathers off bird. With a large meat cleaver whack off wings at shoulder joint. Do likewise with feet at ankle and head at neck. Raise cleaver high overhead. Swiftly lower it planting it between the breasts and cleanly splitting them in two. Wipe hands. Grab drink and sip until all psychopathic twinges subside. Replenish drink if necessary.
Step fourteen: Bake breasts at 350 degrees for 35 minutes. Serve with fava beans and a nice Chianti.