Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Amazing Feet

Some friends recently delivered to our door (about 120km from their home) a lovely gift of six young Australorp roosters! Australorps are an Australian bred dual purpose egg and meat chook. Our friends breed them for showing and had a surplus of male birds. Luckily for us they are not familiar with the whole killing and dressing bit, hence the gift. In the spirit of fairness I'm thinking that next time I might have to make the trip to their place and teach them how to do it.

The cones for containing and draining
poultry after decapitation
I wouldn't normally be crowing (sorry) about a gift of roosters but in this case we didn't have even one early morning/middle of the night wake-up call because, at about 5 months old, the roosters were ready to eat and we wasted no time in preparing them for the freezer.

Killing and dressing chooks is actually a fairly quick process. We have metal cones set up near the chopping block in which we put the birds to drain of blood once the the deed is done. This also prevents the headless chook from running around the yard and getting bruised.

Three of the six roosters dressed
and ready for the pot

Once bled we scald them in very hot water (about 65˚C) for a few seconds. This contracts the skin and allows the feathers to be plucked out very easily. It is then a matter of making a couple of incisions at the back end of the bird and gently pulling out the innards, removing the crop at the front then washing and  refrigerating it. With Rossco plucking and me gutting, the whole process takes about 10-15 minutes per bird.

We try not to waste much. I make pate with the livers, and stock using the hearts, gizzards (when cooked the gizzard is similar to sheep's tongue in both texture and flavour) and feet. Before they can be cooked the feet must be dipped in hot water and the outer skin and nails removed. This renders them very clean.

Crispy chicken feet
I sometimes braise chicken feet in a Chinese flavoured marinade but this time I thought I'd try something different. After removing carefully from the stock to prevent them falling apart, I laid the twelve feet on a tray lined with baking paper, drizzled with olive oil, sprinkled with  garlic salt and popped them into a hot oven for about 10 minutes. The result was scrumptious! The best way I can describe the taste is as crispy chicken and chips. You can actually eat some of the small bones as they become quite soft with the long cooking process. The 'pad' of the foot is meltingly gelatinous and the rest is finger lickin' crispy and crunchy.

After the last post on pigs' heads you probably think I'm on a crusade to get everyone eating all the bits of animals usually wasted. Although it would be great if we wasted less of the animals we kill this isn't my intention at all. I just thought it might be interesting for people to know that you can eat these things and that they are actually delicious when properly prepared.

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