Excuse my fantastically off-center phone photo
On Sunday night, Mark taught me how to "break down" a whole chicken. As part of my commitment to try and eat only meat that comes from a verifiable farm, we are going to be dealing with many more whole chickens in our cooking. When it dawned on me that I had never successfully broken down a chicken before, I knew I needed Mark to teach me so I could share the burden. (By successfully I mean without hacking it to uneven pieces and leaving most of the meat on the carcass.)
So Mark taught me, and I broke it down on my own. I felt a sense of accomplishment knowing that we had breasts, wings, thighs and legs to eat, as well as a carcass to roast for stock. Mark grilled up some of the pieces to put in a baked risotto I made for dinner and that was that.
But I keep finding myself coming back to the process of doing it and of getting my hands on the chicken, feeling where the joints came together and popping them out of place. Running the knife along the rib cage to separate the breasts from the backbone. Plucking a few loose feathers out of the skin.
When you only buy pre-cut and trimmed chicken parts from the grocery store, it's really easy to forget that they came from a chicken. They just look like pieces of meat. But when you break down a whole chicken, you end up getting very close to the body of the animal and it's impossible to forget that it was once a living creature. Somehow you're more grateful for the sacrifice that's going to feed your family for that meal.