Jan 9, 2006, 1:12 PM
Post #29 of 44
Oh please.............whole chickens are not that scary.
Re: [Anonimo] Mexican Soups-Your Favorites
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Last week I had dinner with friends. One happened to mention that he thought he'd finally found a place that did fresh butchering of poultry here in San Diego. My grandparents own and operated a poultry ranch for many years, so I grew up eating lots and lots of fresh, free-range, tender and tasty chicken. I didn't, however, do the butching. So when my friend said he'd seen two little Asian ladies lugging a bag with feet and feathers hanging out of it I was intrigued. He told me where to find the shop and I happened to be sorta nearby last Saturday. As I turned onto the street all I could see were signs in Vietnamese but as I was passing one small shopping center, in big letters - POLLOS PATOS VIVOS y FRESCO. Bingo, that I could understand. So I doubled back and went in.
My nose was immediately assulted with that fresh kill smell and the butchering process was clearly visible through a large plate glass window into a back room. Thankfully, the part where they dispatch the chicken wasn't visible. I guess I should mention that I was the only non-Asian, native English speaker in the place at this point.
"What you want" the counter lady asked me in good, but heavily accented English
"Umm.........I need a whole chicken" I responded
Now, there was a large, glass enclosed, refrigerated meat case right there in front with an assortment of whole body chickens right there. I figured the lady would reach in and get one of those birds. But no. She disappeared through a door into the back room and returned a few mintues later with a bird stuffed into yet another clear plastic bag. She plopped it up on the scale and we completed the transaction. She put the bird in a plastic grocery bag and handed it over the counter to me. I grabbed the handles with my right hand and put my left hand on the bottom of the bag to support it until I got it over the counter onto my side. Hmmm..........bottom feels kinda squishy.
Once home I decided that even though the place had been fairly clean, that since it was an unknown quantity to me I had better pay a little closer attention and spend a few extra mintues washing the bird as a precaution. Precaution for what I don't know, since cooking would kill anything, but I figured it was better to err on the side of safety than not. Given the dinner conversation that had sent me on this wild goose chase -ah make that wild chicken chase - for a fresh bird, I was fairly certain that my prized possession would still have feet. Sure enough when I opened the plastic bag to get the chicken out, there staring me in the eyeballs were 2 chicken feet. No problem. I reached in, grabbed them both around the ankles, or what passes for chicken ankles and pulled. The chicken kept coming and kept coming until I discovered just exactly why it had felt squishy on the bottom. Yep, the neck and head was still attached.
Clearly, something had gotten lost in translation. I had asked for a whole chicken and by gosh, that's exactly what I got. From beak to claw a whole chicken. I guess this gives new meaning to the old phrase, be careful what you ask for. I actually found the whole thing pretty amusing on a whole lot of levels. First the communication breakdown, second for the "eewwww" factor and third because now I was going to have to actually deal with getting rid of the feet and head.
I picked the chicken up by the feet, kind of turned it over a few times to figure out the best angle. I got out my trusty 10" chef's knife and sharpened it up real well. I stood there looking at this thing on my cutting board. I walked around it a few times. And I laughed at myself quite a bit. Finally, I gave each leg a whack at what would be the knee joint, dispensed with those fairly quickly and set them aside. I picked the chicken up by the neck looking for the best place to, well, you get the picture. Finally took one mighty chop at the base and lopped it off.
Sure hope my mother doesn't find that chicken head in the freezer before trash day rolls around this Friday :-). I wonder how she'll feel about the pig head I'm going to buy for posole.................