Most people today are not able to comprehend where food really comes from. We depend on the grocery chains to supply us with our chicken, and just about everything else we eat. I’ve come to realize that it not necessarily a good thing to be so dependent on large chains to supply my family with our food, especially with food production being so globally diverse these days. When you grow your own food, it’s safer, you know what’s in it, and, it is a lot more satisfying.
- Find yourself a tasty looking chicken….
- The chickens are held by their feet, then gently turned upside down. Chickens get disoriented when they are upside down, and after a few seconds they become very calm, their wings kind of relax out.
- We gently place our chickens into a modified milk jug nailed to a tree, head first. Under the milk jug, on the ground, we place a bucket to catch blood.
The milk jug was modified by cutting the bottom off of it, and widening the spout a bit. Now.. this may seem odd, but it’s really very practical. “Like a chicken with it’s head cut off” is a saying that’s been around for a while, and quite honestly, keeping your chicken contained while slaughtering it is a really good idea if you don’t want to be covered in blood.
- Gently, but firmly grab a good hold onto your chickens’ head, and (with a very sharp knife) cut directly under the cheekbones on both sides of the neck. This effectively cuts the jugular veins, and causes the chicken to bleed out very quickly. We collect the blood in a bucket to use in our garden as fertilizer. Your chicken will convulse quite a bit after it dies, so keep holding the head until it stops to ensure that you don’t get blood everywhere.
- Your chicken is now dead. So, it’s time to get those feathers off…… You’ll need some pretty warm water (140 degrees F. is pretty ideal) to swish your chicken around in for 1-2 minutes. This causes the feathers to release with more ease. Be careful not to use water which is too hot, as that would cook your chicken skin, making the skin come off with the feathers.
- Start pulling those feathers!! The ones on the body will easily come off in handfuls, the larger feathers in the wings, however, will need to be pulled out one at a time.
- Time to clean it out……. first we want to cut the skin around the neck, and separate out the crop (which is full because we killed caught these chickens this morning… generally, it’s a good idea to catch them a day before and withhold food) and the esophagus from the neck….
After you’ve done this… Carefully remove the crop. I do this by pinching the tube under the crop and pulling….. as we found out yesterday while doing this…. the crop is connected to the organ called the proventriculus. The proventriculus introduces digestive juices to the food before it enters the gizzard. (It is ok to pull this part out too…. but try not to manhandle anything else into coming out when you pull this.)
- Now we come to the really exciting part of butchering a chicken, or at least the start of it. Before you can reach into the chicken’s body and pull out its insides, you need to cut an opening at the back end.
My approach to this is to cut a small opening with a pair of meat shears, then reach into the opening and tear it wider. The less cutting you do, the less chance there is that you’ll cut into an intestine or some other internal organ that you shouldn’t cut into. Do this part with care……
Once you have the ability to get your finger into the body through the hole that you’ve cut, use your finger to start separating the skin from the insides….. by doing this, you should have a clear view of the skin, and be able to cut cleanly around the anus… when you finally make the cut (very carefully) all of the way around, you’ll be able to pretty much reach inside and scoop the insides out of your chicken.
- You’ve cleaned it out, now chop off the extra parts and play with them……. really, it’s kind of sick and twisted… but it’s fun! As I said before, we don’t just want to survive….. we want to live, and to live, we must find humor in the gruesome tasks we have to undertake in order to survive.
Lastly….. you can do what you want to with the organs, some people eat them…. we personally use them to catch fish. The neck makes great gravy, and if you choose to take cuts of meat off of your chicken, remember, you can cook the bones and make chicken stock to keep in your pantry. Also, some people eat chicken feet, some people dry them and make funky jewelry out of them for voodoo shops. This “how to prepare your chicken” blog is certainly not the ONLY way to do things…… it’s just how we do it.