Friday, May 11, 2012

Grouse for lunch

I had an interesting experience today. There was a ruffed grouse hanging oround the Livingstone property. It may have bonded with Jeff as it had followed him around a few times. He is always working in his shop building a sailboat so perhaps, his hammering and so forth replicated the drumming of a male grouse. Sadly the cat chased it this morning and it flew into the road and was struck by a car and killed. Jeff showed it to me laying at the end of the driveway. He told me to pick it up so I can see how heavy it was. I did and it was really substantial. It must have been around a lb and a half. Now I know why they make so much noise when they take off. That is a lot of weight to get off the ground with for a small bird. I said that maybe we should eat it. Jeff said theres no reason we shouldn't. He felt sad about the bird though so he left it to me. I took a photo of it and then I went to work plucking and cleaning it.

I said a little prayer of thanksgiving for the bird and tried to be respectful of it. The feathers came off easily. It had really delicate skin though and it tore in a few places. I cut the head off and noticed it had a crop stuffed full of green leaves of some kind. It looked almost like grass. It may have been clover. I cleaned the guts out and inside was a fully formed egg about a little less than half the size of a chicken egg. I cut the lower legs off and the wings off, mostly because the wing feathers were tougher to pluck and it looked like not much meat on them. When I had it all cleaned up it looked just like an cornish hen. It was all breast meat though. The legs weren't as meaty as a chicken though. I put it in a pot of water along with a bunch of Jerusalem artichokes and some oregano and poultry seasoning. I brought it to a boil and let it simmer for a couple hours.

Star came home and was saddened about the grouse and couldn't bear to look at it. Later while it was simmering and I saw her out working in the garden she told me a story about when her son was 14 or so and had a friend over who was into outdoor survival skills. A grouse struck the window and he decided to cook it and eat it. She thought it was nice that both times a grouse had been killed there some one was willing to make use of it. I went in and checked on the bird and it was nice and tender an coming off the bone. It tasted like chicken but was really light. I hadn't noticed this before but in comparison to the grouse chicken has kind of a heavy after taste or something or gives a heavy feeling. After eating the grouse I felt like I had just eaten a salad. I'd been earting free range pork here and its way better than factory farmed pork. The grouse I think has a similar dynamic, plus I think I could taste a hint of the wild herbs that make up its diet. I felt really thankful for the bird.

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