I love maledicta. As the grammar girl notes, “”Maledict” is an archaic adjective meaning cursed, which comes from Latin root words meaning “to speak ill” of something.” It is used to refer to those funny symbols which allow you, dear reader, to interact creatively with me as you insert your own expletive into that space occupied by symbols. It also saves me from receiving lots of email lectures about swearing and such. The symbols used to imply swearing are also sometime referred to as grawlix. Sometimes expletives are simply disemvoweled and the vowels replaced with asterisks, as in “I got the most amazing fresh whole duck from Maple Leaf Farms and I wanted to be sure I did not f*** it up.”
And that’s the truth.
I received a fresh whole, absolutely beautiful unadulterated duck. I love using the whole product and breaking it down myself; for birds that means I try to use everything from beak to tail feathers. When you are gifted this incredible product you want to use all of it. It is incredibly easy, and a good practice in that it wastes nothing and saves money. You can use the carcass for stock, giblets for sauces, liver for pates, breasts for any main course and wings and thighs for confit. Unfortunately, many people do not know how to break down a bird and do not attempt it because they are afraid they will #@+/ it up (see isn’t maledicta >*&^#$%! fun). Since we will be doing some confit later, let’s start with a simple walk through on proper poultry prep. There are several ways to process poultry, so feel free to experiment after you get the basics down. Once you’ve done it several times, it really only takes a few minutes to do-and it is an absolute requirement if you are to make homemade stocks. Practice a few times on a chicken if you like, the avian anatomy is the same whether it’s a clucker or a quacker.
Step One: Remove any giblets, neck bones, etc which are usually packed with the whole birds.
Step Two: Remove the wings; lift the bird by the wings and cut at the joints.
Step Three: Remove thighs; feel where the thigh joins the body on the backside of the bird. Using gentle pressure with the thumbs pop the joint. With the bird on its back, cut in front where the indentation is below the rib cage and above the legs, turn over and cut at the joint you just popped down to the tail to free the leg and thigh.
Step Four: Remove breasts; there is a bone and cartilage that divides the two breasts. Cut alongside that dividing landmark, and slide the knife along the sternum under the breast to remove it.