Category Archives: meat

What does Kuzzin eat?

You might wonder–if she’s killing geese with her bare hands, what does their cuddly gray cat, Kuzzin, eat? Mostly he loves the cheapest cat food we can buy. I once bought the expensive, free-range stuff. He refused to eat it. It was back to Friskies. He was once an alley cat and lived outside. Bill and I used to think he was evil (his eyes are sort of strange). After our cat Sparkles died, though, Kuzzin somehow squirmed his way into our hearts and we adopted him. Like all cats, he spends most days sleeping.

But lately it’s gotten pretty exciting for Kuz, as I bought an amazing mouse trap that catches the mice that he can’t (he’s too busy sleeping). When he first moved in, he used to catch the mice skittering around our house and garden. But lately he’s slowed down–maybe the plentiful cheap ass cat food has made him soft and weak. I was forced to take on our home’s rodent control into my own hands. There’s something….satisfying about setting a mousetrap. It’s kind of like being a French Canadian fur trapper. You set the trap, then come back–and ah! a prize! But there’s also something…terrifying about trying to get the thing set without snapping your own fingers into the trap. That’s why the best trap ever is made by D-con and features a little lever to trigger the trap. You just press a button and it’s good to go. You can also use it over and over again. Sorry, I’m starting to sound like a spokesperson for D-Con. Sheesh. Unlike being a French Canadian fur trapper, I’m not in it for a mouse fur (though I’m sure that’s nice), just for the trapping. But, of course, someone in the house *loves* mice. So now I tip the mouse trap over Kuzzin’s food dish and in he pounces. He eats a mouse in about 2 minutes flat. Beginning with the head. The noise of his clashing jaws and mouse flesh is surprisingly loud. The other day, maybe with the taste of a young mouse in his memory, Kuzzin went hunting again. He got a bird. I know–that’s terrible! It was one of those ubiquitous sparrows that hang out on the deck with the rabbits. Kuzzin ate its head first too. There were tiny gray feathers all over my kitchen. And that’s what Kuzzin the urban farm cat eats.

Cook your goose

As promised, I unearthed the goose from the freezer…and killed the two living ones to boot.
My downstairs neighbors finally complained about the incessant honking of the geese, and like a true country bumpkin, I slaughtered them the minute after the complaint was lodged. Good relations with neighbors are more important than two slightly more fat geese come X-mas time. But I wonder if I could ask them to make their dogs shut the hell up with their infernal barking? I don’t think they’d return the favor, somehow.

Here’s what I did to the geese. After killing and some plucking, I ended up just skinning them. Getting all the feathers out requires a rubber fingered plucking machine. Those rule. But I don’t have one. So, skinning. I know–the fat? It went with the skin (into a shallow grave). There was some internal fat, though. Plus, I have pig fat.

After a day of resting in a salt brine, I deboned the geese. The meat was red and looked like beef, a bit. With the carcasses–carcassi?–made tons of stock, which eventually became gumbo and a tomato ragu (but that’s another story). Then I put the chunks in the freezer to get very cold. Meanwhile, I cubed up some pig back fat (oh, the decadence).
Then all of that went into the meat grinder. It’s called a waring “professional” meat grinder, but it sucks. Someone said a Kitchen Aid grinder works well, but I wonder. I bought casings at Taylor Sausage in Old Oakland–nice guys, lots of casings for $12.
Then I mixed everything up–the meat, the fat, herbs, wine. And fed the meat into the stuffing attachment of my wanky grinder. I think the meat and fat did something Michael Ruhlman calls “breaking”, which he says in his book Charcuterie, makes the sausage taste like paper maiche. Oh lord! They did look kind of smeary and weird. After a night in the fridge, I pulled them out for Sunday pancakes. As the sausages fried, a full-on geyser of liquid fat came streaming out of the crackling skillet-bound sausage.

As for the taste–yes, a little dry, but with maple syrup and cornmeal hotcakes, they were nothing to feed to the dogs.

Old lurking things

The end of summer makes me want to clean out my freezer. If you can believe it, we *still* have pork left from last year’s pigs. My friend Zach was in town so I roasted some in his honor. Even after a year in the deep freeze, it’s still delicious.

While I was rooting around the freezer to find the last pork shoulder, I found some crazy stuff. Two pigs feet, neatly wrapped. Pig kidneys (glad I labeled that!). Assorted goose parts. Two rabbits in Ziplock bags. Lots of chicken and turkey feet. An entire pork belly. A ham. A rack of pork loin. Since it’s been in there for a year, I really need to get that stuff cooked and eaten! So, for the next few posts, I’m going to have some, um, closure, with the meat in the freezer. I’m planning to make goose sausage, a rabbit and pork back fat terrine (from Jane Grigson), kidney pie, made some bacon (that crisp Fall wind is starting to blow here…)

And once the temps finally drop, I absolutely must take care of those many, many rabbit pelts. That will be quite unappetizing.