Wednesday, March 9, 2011

So much to learn. (Vegetarian discretion advised)

We were offered two aggressive roosters by vegetarian friends who keep chickens and don't like being attacked when entering the coop. As earlier mentioned, I feel that, as a meat eater, the responsible thing is to face the death behind at least a few of the meat-based meals I eat. But my feet started getting cold the night before the roosters were due to arrive. I was very glad somebody had to stay with the kids, leaving me no choice but to sit out yet another slaughter. Turns out, proximity to death matters. At one point, I went out to check on Aaron and make sure the attack roosters hadn't gotten the upper hand.  I found him skinning the first bird, bright blood drippings on the dirty snow and milk carton he'd set under the now half naked rooster. Later, when Aaron came in, his cheek was dripping with blood. Happily, he'd been sprayed, not slashed.

After skinning both birds, Aaron finished the processing in our kitchen sink. 

Forest was eager to eat the birds after getting over his initial disappointment that we weren't keeping them as pets.  The blood, guts, and blue-grey feet didn't bother him in the least.  I also watched the proceedings, impressed by Aaron's skill.   Decapitating, skinning, eviscerating without any apparent hesitation or mistakes, Aaron turned two roosters crowing in their cat carriers into supper ingredients.  The advantage of growing up hunting.

As happy as we were to have the meat, it made us both very sad. Aaron said the second bird almost got a last minute reprieve. “They were such beautiful birds. And it always makes me sad to kill.” I was also somber and, truth be told, a bit grossed out by the smell of fresh flesh. Then I started getting tired. Stupefyingly tired. My limbs felt melty, my mind went fuzzy, and I kept tripping. Aaron sent me to bed for a bit, while he bathed the kids. I felt guilty, but I was in such a torpor, I couldn't say no to rest. Was this a reaction to the death of these birds? As the evening wore on, my throat got sore and I had joint aches all over. I became convinced I was getting sick, but then I was perfectly health the next morning. We'll see what happens the next time we kill.

And, it turns out, there is a learning curve with cooking year-old roosters. Aaron wanted to roast one, despite my skepticism, we did. (Really, we steamed it since it was covered with tinfoil.) The result: delicious chicken-shoe, which is to say, excellent taste, awful texture. I wanted to stew one and picked a recipe intended for old roosters, coq au vin. I'm not all that experienced at cooking meat and totally flubbed the dish. (I guess the bacon and the brandy flambe step were more crucial than I thought.) The ingredients didn't come together and transform into a whole greater than the parts, instead the wine sauce tasted like greasy wine and the now purple chicken pieces tasted like greasy wine-flavored chicken. The texture, although better than the chicken-shoe, wasn't all that impressive either. Forest said, “It tastes funky,” and ate bread for dinner. I'm hoping (but not hopeful) that, as promised in the cookbook, the flavors will meld and improve with sitting overnight. Of course it is all the same to those roosters whether we enjoy eating them—in fact, probably nicer for them if we suffer a bit—, but to me it seems they deserved better for the lives we took from them.


  1. What a great post! I think Forest is so fortunate to be growing up in the home you are making.

    Laura (and Solomon and Hannah)