We were just in the third class when I had to face the chicken… It sounded easy. It didn’t seem very difficult. However, once I had the bird before me, I had no idea where to begin.
To prepare any poultry in order to cook it, one must start practically in the same way, notwithstanding which one it is this time. One has to stretch it, burn the few feathers left behind, take the tendons out, cut the feet when applicable, be-head, de-gut, truss, or cut in pieces, and theeeen one can start to cook it.
To see it being done for the first time was fascinating, especially if we consider I was a mere spectator, and it would be others the ones responsible of getting out of the classroom and reproduce what the Chef Instructor had prepared. The second time, however, I was much more worried, since I had to repeat each and every step in the same way they had been shown in class. Little by little, I started feeling more at ease with the procedure. I even became competent enough to increase my speed at the task. I had to learn how to cut into pieces, how to obtain the different pieces, and even how to make it into a “ballotine”. If we talk about the duck, then we have to think about leaving the thighs and the legs well done, while the breast fillets have to be rosé. With Guinea fowls one has to be careful of not overcooking because the meat ends up with a rubbery texture. Anyhow, the learning process seems infinite, and practice makes master, they say. I have no idea how many birds I have be-headed even with the obscurantism entailed. I have a lot of fun when I go to the market and tell my merchant it is not necessary for him to do anything else but wrap the little beastie in some paper and he wishes me “good cuisine”. To remember in retrospection my first homemade roasted chicken which I had the courage to prepare for dinner because my friend who doesn’t even prepare a sandwich told me it was so easy to do even she could achieve them without any problem whatsoever, and even though I made it a little bit blindly, it came out really nice, and it seems it was a long time ago, yet it was just a couple of years ago.
By now, I have prepared a whole bunch of traditional dishes with a poultry base in the last few months, and even though there surely will be many more to experiment in the next quarter, I still have to learn about pigeons, quails, or any other unknown bird which hasn’t found its way towards my dining room table.