Now, I have a lot to learn about breaking down animals. I have never seen a whole side of beef and marveled at the anatomy of an impossibly large cow. But I have watched my Mom cut a bird into 8 pieces, moving the joints to find the places to cut through. Going through the motions that (with 5 birds a year) are still rather new to me, I found it was infinitely easier with this Wusthof butchery set. The poultry shears nipped through easily as I cut out the backbone, the hefty cleaver broke the sternum swift and neat. But what I am most in love with is the boning knife that made quick work of removing the skeleton parts from the pale pink flesh. I tried not to feel bad for not making such a neat work of it, but seeing as I have never removed bones before, I think I did all right. (I also take comfort that any remaining meat on the bones I discarded will enrich my stock all that much more and not really be wasted.)
Since for the past couple of years I have dealt more in chicken than chicken parts, I have to say that I enjoy most a chicken in a pot (check out this one!). Roasted chickens are great, that burnished brown skin so alluring and crisp. But to make a whole bird in some kind of sauce, braising it in the oven for an hour or two until you have the best of all worlds? I almost prefer that to any other kind of meat. Tonight, I dredged my chicken pieces in flour speckled with minced rosemary, paprika, salt, and pepper and after wilting 3/4 lb. of mushrooms with some green onions in butter (and removing them from my pot), I added a little more butter and browned the chicken. I added just a little more butter and the leftover flour, and made a roux with vermouth, leftover veg stock that needed using, and half a lemon. I added everything back, topped it off with the last of the veg stock, and baked it in the oven for an hour until it was bubbly, perfectly cooked.
We'll have several days of leftovers, and something for the freezer before this chicken is gone completely.
I wonder if I will be brave enough to ask my Parents' neighbor if I can help butcher chickens. If I could learn to accept the most visceral part of responsible meat eatery. I suspect I will. And when I do, I'll be sure to be careful of my fingers.
available exclusively at Williams-Sonoma) for review. My opinions are my own, and are not embellished.