How to make pukeko soup

MATT RILKOFF
Last updated 07:24 13/08/2012
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FAIRFAX
Fish and game say hunters have just a few weeks to bag a few Pukeko.

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Pukeko are iconic to some and a pest to others, and Fish & Game is promoting the hunting and eating of the cheeky bird.

Protected much of the year, pukeko can still be shot by those with a game bird hunting licence until August 26.

With the duck season over, Taranaki Fish & Game officer Allen Stancliff recommends hunters bag a few pukeko for tucker to get the most out of their licence.

Hunters can shoot up to 10 a day.

"I haven't ever had it but I have heard it is quite nice in soups, and the breast meat is good sliced and fried.

"It goes the same with a lot of game bird meat," Mr Stancliff said.

Despite being used as the cute and clever mascots of power company Genesis Energy, real pukeko can cause some problems for farmers at maize planting time in particular and they can also peck holes in silage wrap, he said.

The extended season encourages hunters and farmers to get together and reduce pukeko numbers in areas where they have been building up and causing damage.

The bird, also known as the swamp hen, is not a widely popular food choice but has found its way onto the menu at the Hokitika Wild Food Festival.

Pukeko, sometimes referred to as "pukes", cannot be farmed or sold, so the only way to get your hands on one is to kill it yourself, or to know someone who has.

An old timer's joke about pukeko involves cooking them in a pot of water with a stone for a period of days before throwing the pukeko away and eating the stone.

Readers should note this is not a valid recipe.

Like other game birds, "pukes" can only legally be shot while in flight.

PUKEKO SOUP

1 pukeko
1 carrot
1 onion
1 stick celery
1 bay leaf
1 sprig thyme
1 sprig parsley
6 peppercorns
2 cloves
1 teaspoon salt
Cold water

Add all ingredients to a saucepan and cover with cold water. Bring slowly to the boil and gently simmer for three hours.

Remove some breast from the pukeko and chop it finely across the grain. Add to pot, simmer for half an hour. Serve hot.

THE 'HOW TO' GUIDE

How to "breast" a dead pukeko

1. Lay it face down on the ground with its legs stretched out towards you.
2. Place a foot on each leg, so your boot covers the whole leg.
3. Bend down and take hold of the bird at the base of each wing as close to the body as possible.
4. Stand up pulling until the breast pulls away with the wings.

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- Taranaki Daily News

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