In an effort to prove that Object Dart isn’t all about literature and fine dining, the editors have decided we need to put up something a bit manly. So here you go.

Well, if you’re a vegetarian or vegan then I suggest you stop reading immediately. I’ll put the worst of the photos over the jump to protect the fragile, but will put these two up here to give you taste of what’s going on.

me sharpening a cleaver

This is me in a butcher’s apron sharpening a cleaver, by the way.

 

 

 

 

And this is the victim.

 

You get the picture.

“Dressing” or carving fowl is actually pretty simple. The animal is basically divided into two useable halves, with the meat is arranged around the ribcage. What you’ll be seeing is how and where to cut to make the most of the animal.

So the first question. Why do this?

Well, if you’re going to eat meat you’ve got to make the most of whatever it is you’ve killed. There is nothing more disrespectful than killing a creature and only eating a select bit.

Lecture over. Now for the sharpened knives. You’ll need a meat cleaver, and one very sharp knife. Only crazy people do this without the latter. Make sure you have a decent steel to keep your knives sharp.

What you’re after is a knife that allows you point it in a direction, and have it go that way. If the knife resists, it’s too blunt, and you’ll end up cutting yourself. This is a bad thing.

Here’s the thing. Fowl are essentially a tube with meat on it. Their ribcage supports their breast, and their thighs begin more or less directly at the edge of the ribs. Also, their breast bone is very different to yours. Where your sternum is flat, theirs is almost triangular, with a raised edge that divides the “tube” of their bodies.

So what you’re going to do is cut the duck directly along its breastbone. Like so.

Now, the knife will naturally fall to one side of the breastbone.

You’re cutting the duck from its neck to the end of its ribcage, which is more or less where the cavity will be.

Next, make a cut where the ribcage ends. Feel it out with your fingers first, then make a rounded incision along the side of the bird.

Eventually, you’ll end up with this.

When the time comes to cut the other side, just repeat the process along the other side of the breastbone. Now to separate the breast. Cut down and along the ribcage, gently separating the meat from the bone. If you’re gentle it should lift away in a small, tear-drop shaped slab.

You can see in the next photo how it matches the shape of the area. If there’s still a bit of meat left, no worries. That’ll be used when you make stock out of the bones.

And now the tricky part. Retrieving the thigh of a fowl involves cutting underneath the leg near the very end of the breastbone, and digging up towards the hip.

You need to part the flesh gently, and keep the knife moving in close to the carcass.

The idea is to separate the thigh away from the carcass by cutting around the hip joint.

You have to be sure to stay close to the line of rib cage, and separate out as much meat as you can. There will always be a little left.

In the above picture I’ve left a little of the meat near the tail, and especially all the fat associated with it. Once you’ve cut down to the hip joint, you can snap it, and cut the portion of the thigh above the joint away from the carcass

And there you have it! One duck thigh. Normally these things cost about $14 for a pair. The whole duck only cost me $17, so all the bits I get from carving it myself is a huge saving!

Once all that’s done, cut away any fat from the very front and very back ends of the duck and save it. It’s easy to render down into pure cooking fat. Next, chop up the carcass for making broth/stock.

Finally, this is what you should have left, four pieces, each a meal in itself. I made confit with the thighs, and pan-fry the breast. Delicious.

And there you go. One duck in little pieces. Again, apologies to any vegetarians crazy enough to read the post.

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