Tuesday, September 5, 2006

Going wild!

Well, better wild than crazy!

The thing is that I noticed, reading through my blog, one could easily conclude that we eat only fish.
So, to prove that’s not the case I decided to post about delicious weekend we spent in company with our friend who is a hunter, and his family. And our menu followed the theme.

Our friend brought wild quills he hunted and we deiced to prepare them “ispod peke” – traditional way of preparing food under baking lid (peka = domed lid) covered with hot ashes.

I’m an “omnivore” and I rarely let something ruin my pleasure in eating, or even worst, some prejudice or “moral dilemma” discourages me in enjoying certain food, but I know I could never be the hunter. To prepare those little birds, to hold them in hand and pluck their tender feathers, was really the agony. Maybe it is hypocritical, since, at the end, I did enjoy to eat them, but still, I know I could never kill the animal.

On the other hand, I prefer to eat wild game over the animals raised at farms because you can be sure that in the woods there are no antibiotics, hormones or any other growth promoters that big producers use to feed their animal. Also, it seems to me, there is much more dignity in life and death of the hunted wild game than in life and dead of the animal rose at some industrial farm.

So, the birds were there, they were dead, what else I could do but to eat them! And, I suppose it is better to enjoy it! That at least gives some sense to their sacrifice. I believe, if I were the bird, it would to me!

Luckily, our friend brought the quills already de-gutted so at least we didn’t have to bother with that, but still, in front of us was an awful task of plucking the birds.

Some like to peel entire skin from the bird (by pinching below breast at anus and pulling skin off the entire bird together with feathers), but it is better just to pluck the feathers and to leave the skin because it will keep meat moist during the cooking and at the end it will add more taste thanks to the skin’s special flavor.

Pluck the feathers by pulling sharply towards the tail but be careful not to tear skin. This is so called “dry pluck”. If there are some feather residues, just burn them carefully with fire. You can also “wet pluck” the birds by dunking them in hot water for about a minute and then it will be easier to pluck the feathers without tearing the skin.

After plucking rinse the birds with water and wipe dry. Cut off the feet.
Wrap the quills in bacon and seal it with toothpick.

Meanwhile, cover the bottom of the dish with slices of bacon. Slice the onion and spread over the bacon. Place the wrapped quills on the onion and cover them with vegetables (potatoes, carrots…). Add some garlic, bay-leafs. Season with salt and pepper.

While preparing the food, prepare the wood fire

When wood had burn out in red ember, arrange it in ring shape, leaving the clear circle in the centre.
Place the dish with quills in the centre. Cover it with “peka” (baking dish), and put embers over peka. Leave the quills and vegetables to cook in its on juice for about 45 minutes.

The meal was delicious and made me forget all previous dilemmas and torments. The quills and vegetable released lots of liquid, their flavors converged, you could taste quills in vegetable, bacon disappeared leaving just the discrete smell on quill’s crunchy skin, vegetable melted in mouth, meat was firm but tender and the sauce was saturated with smells and tastes of life in wild woods.

Divine Perfection!