recently recovered from
the unusual situation of having too many
oysters, we were surprised to find ourselves suffering from a new
surfeit, in this case, a surfeit of poultry.
It started innocently enough with the D'Artagnan web site. D'Artagnan is run by Ariane Daugin and supplies high quality meats and poultry to restaurants and individuals in New York City and around the country. Ariane Daugin is the daughter of Andre Daugin who ran the Hotel de France in Auch in the heart of Gascony. We stayed there some years ago in what we can only describe as the "drug smuggler's suite" and greatly enjoyed our stay and the food. We particularly enjoyed the food. No one else offered foie gras served eight (or was it twelve) different ways and could still make a navarin of lamb that evoked a country farmhouse.
In any event, we were browsing the D'Artagnan web site and got a sudden craving for some ostrich. The local ostrich farm in Sequim closed recently after many years of failing to make a go of it. Apparently, they had bought in during the Great Ostrich Bubble and paid high prices for their birds which could not be supported by the limited market demand.
So, we shopped online and purchased a lovely ostrich fan.
not even sat down to plan
our ostrich dinner when the weather changed. The temperature fell, and
we had no choice but to order four ducks and make up a duck confit. This is a rather big
production, since all four ducks must be skinned, their skin rendered
for fat, their meat removed from the bones, salted and seasoned, and
then preserved in the duck fat.
This task accomplished, we now had a huge (3 liter) jar of preserved duck. This perservation process dates to before the era of refrigeration, but we have never had the nerve to leave our duck confit out on the shelf. Instead we tuck it away in the door of our refrigerator, fondly named "Hurricane Fridge" for its massive cooling capacity. Shown here is the bottle with eight duck breasts and eight boned duck legs all preserved in duck fat.
We popped the ostrich in the freezer and settled down, waiting for our duck confit to ripen.
we could eat our ostrich
fan or our duck confit, we had our Christmas party, so we had to make a
choucroute garni. In addition to an incredible number of sausages and
an industrial quantity of sauerkraut, choucroute requires a number of
smoked pheasants. We ordered four pheasants and smoked them with apple
wood from an old stump we had hacked out of our garden.
As it turned out, the choucroute, for all its immensity, could only hold three of the smoked pheasants, so we wound up adding the remaining bird to our growing collection of fowl.
got a call from Harley
at Dry Creek Farm.
For a number of months, he had been talking about several of his chickens who had ceased laying eggs. His hens produce some of the best eggs we have ever tasted, so we always drop by his stand at the Farmers' Market in Port Angeles. He has also graciously provided us with some chicken manure for our garden, and while we can say nothing about the taste vis a vis that of his eggs, our plants seem to like the stuff.
For some time Harley has been discussing the fate of his non-laying hens, and it seems that the movie Chicken Run was not far off the mark with regards to chicken retirement plans. This is unlikely to change, at least for chickens, despite the ongoing debates about "fixing" Social Security.
Unfortunately, there is some distance between the barnyard and the oven, and this includes killing and dressing the birds which is not too hard, and removing their feathers, which is rather hard. We expressed our interest in acquiring a number of his retired layers, but since we had no desire to pluck them ourselves no delivery date was set.
There is a principle stated that like calls to like, so it was not surprising that as the number of fowl in our refrigerator continued to grow, Harley's chickens were suddenly dead, dressed, plucked and available. We bought three of them, and while they are not much to look at, we are most curious as to how they will serve boiled up as poule au pot or simply roasted.
We made a promise to report on quality of the birds, but Christmas was rapidly approaching.
greatly enjoyed our
Thanksgiving turkey from Heritage
Foods, so we also ordered an American Buff goose from the same
provider for Christmas. Under ordinary circumstances, this should have
resulted in the addition of a single fowl to our growing collection.
However, it appears that we have achieved some sort of critical mass of
poultry, and the principle of like calling to like continued to apply.
Our goose did arrive, and we are eager to roast it up, stuffed with apples and prunes, for Christmas Day. The UPS delivery team dropped it off, and we tore open the insulating styrofoam container.
container was large, and the
goose was a bit smaller than we had expected. However, the goose was
not alone. There was another bird, a moderately sized American Bronze
turkey. We scrambled to check that rather long email we had received
only the previous day from Heritage Foods, and there was the
Apparently, Heritage Foods was having a great year. There were quite a few people eager to purchase the traditional breeds of holiday birds. In fact, there were so many that they were unable to meet everyone's orders for birds of a particular size. Since our goose was several pounds smaller than we had ordered, they had shipped us a turkey in compensation. Next time we order from these guys, we'll take our change in squabs or quail.
As for our Christmas Day plans, they have been altered slightly to allow room for this second delicious fowl. It looks like our oven will be running overtime with the goose for Christmas Eve and the turkey for Christmas Day.
As for the leftovers, we are pondering tamales.