If you are raising chickens with the intention of eating them, you need to know how to cut a chicken. For some, the process is too much and they will hand over the responsibility to a mobile butcher or take the chickens to be killed. This adds a great cost to the chicken and almost defeats the purpose of raising chickens for meat in the first place.
Killing and preparing a chicken for the table is a valuable skill that you must possess. If you are ever in a situation where your chickens are the only option for a meal and there are no butchers available for processing, you should know how to do it. There are some serious problems that may arise if you do not know what you are doing. The cutting and incorrect processing of a chicken can poison the meat.
Butcher of a chicken is not as bad as many people will assume it. It is a necessary evil and can be done humanly. The process of killing the bird ends in seconds. It is something that has been done for thousands of years. It is a part of the circle of life.
This article will review the steps to kill a chicken and prepare it for storage in the freezer or cooking immediately.
Prepare for the butcher shop # 1
Before starting the process, you should have your tools ready. These are the following:
- Sharp knife: do not even think about using a dull knife! You could use an ax if you prefer.
- A butcher block, an old stump will also work
- A feeding bag or sack of burlap.
- Lined dustbin
- Bleach water bucket
- Boiling water pot ready to use.
- Clean area for processing
- Garden hose: lit and ready to use
- Optional: a support and a rope to hang the birds for cleaning; this can be something as simple as a rope thrown on a tree branch
It is important that you have all your tools and materials ready. You do not want to leave a chicken waiting or have a corpse or chicken heads on your cutting board. This will attract flies and bees. You must make sure that you are as healthy as possible and human.
It is a good idea not to feed the chickens that you are going to kill the night before. They may have water, but you want to limit the amount of food in the digestion path if possible. This will prevent stool from entering the housing during processing.
Killing the chicken # 2
This is one of the most difficult parts for most people. It is not easy to take a life, especially the life of an animal that has bred for months. It is difficult to stay completely emotionally separated. With time, it becomes easier. You should keep in mind that the chickens are putting food on your table.
You gave the chickens a good life and now it’s time to do what they were hatched. It’s no different than buying a roast chicken in the store. There are many people who talk a little with the chickens before the butcher shop. Excuse yourself and thank the birds if they make you feel better. Nobody will judge you.
There are many options on how to kill a chicken. Some people grab a chicken by the neck, beat it and break the neck instantly. This is not always effective and you still have to take your head off. You are adding an additional step and scaring the bird. For the purpose of this article, we will instruct you on how to use a bag and a sharp knife for the actual killing process.
Use a pair of scissors to cut a corner from the bottom of the feeding bag or burlap bag. The hole should be large enough for the head of the chick to jump through. When the head of a chicken is removed, it will turn. In fact, you can walk for several minutes. A chicken headless jump can be a bit traumatic. It’s not alive. It’s nerves. However, nobody wants to see that. When you keep the body in the bag, it keeps the bird in one place.
Once you have your head through the hole, place the chicken in the butcher block, holding the body with your non-dominant hand. Take a quick swing with your knife to quickly remove the head with a single swing. Leave the chicken in the bag until it no longer moves. If you are killing several chickens, place the slaughtered chicken in a container while you quickly take care of the rest. You can use an empty trash can with a lid to hold the chickens for a few minutes.
This process is much smoother if you have at least two people involved. One person performs the butchery, while the next goes to the next step. In total, you can complete the entire process in just 15 minutes once you master it.
Cleaning and blanching # 3
Now, you need to use the hose to rinse the chicken’s feces and blood. You can use a sink, but it tends to get a little dirty. This is the way to clean a chicken without making a big mess in the kitchen that resembles a crime scene. If you have children, you certainly do not want to scare them with a bloody screen. If you are using an outdoor area, be sure to rinse the blood from the floor once you have finished. Yellow jackets are attracted by blood, like many other animals. You do not want to create a dangerous situation for yourself or your family.
Place the whole chicken, feathers and all, in the pot of boiling water. Some people like to add a couple of drops of dish soap to the water. This allows water to enter chicken feathers. This will make removing feathers much easier. Let the chicken stay in the water for about a minute. Remove the chicken from the boiling water and place it on its clean work surface.
A quick note here; If the water is not at the boiling temperature and we wet the chicken, the feathers will not come off easily. If you leave the bird in the water for more than a minute, the skin will cook a little. When the plucking process begins, the feathers will move the skin away from the bird.
It is time to go through the evisceration process, which is another difficult job, but it must be done and must be done quickly. Use a rope, it can be something like a clothesline, to tie the feet and hang the bird on the trash can. It is better to do this outside or in the store or the barn.
Remove as many feathers as you can. You do not have to get up to the last pen. You will have time to start the rest later. When you have removed the majority, use the hose to rinse your casing again. Use your knife to make an incision in the abdomen, near the back. The incision should only break the skin. You do not want to put the knife in the body of the chicken and burst the intestines. It is better to avoid contaminating your meat with intestinal content.
Gently squeeze the vent and use your knife, tilting it up, to open it into the small incision you just made. The vent is the back, to be frank. This will open a hole in the back of the chicken. You will make the biggest hole in a moment. The trick is to avoid cutting into any intestine. Use your fingers to pull the widest opening. You do not want to use a knife at this point. Pull gently until the hole is several inches around. Your hand will adjust, even if it seems impossible.
If your chicken ate dinner the night before, at this point you will be expelled. It’s disgusting and many people prefer to wear gloves while doing this. It’s a part of the process and there really is not much you can do about it. Continue to stretch and open the hole until it is large enough for you to enter.
Cleaning the chicken # 4
Another necessary, but feared part of the killing process is the elimination of internal organs and intestines. If only you could shake them. You can not. You will need to use your hand and slowly pull the parts (which is officially known as viscera), making sure you do not squish anything and make a big mess. This is a very delicate process. One small misstep and the bird will be contaminated and will not be safe to eat.
To remove the viscera, place the chicken on its back. Slide your hand so that it is flat and pressed against the sternum. Ladies, if you have long nails, this could be complicated. You do not want to click anything. The organs are very delicate and soft. When the fingertips reach the neck area, bend the fingers down and begin to gently pull back. Do not tighten or pull. I should be able to get most of the viscera in a spoonful. If you do not, do another sweep. If the chicken is large, several sweeps may be necessary.
Before putting the viscera in the trash, you must inspect them. You are looking for a small green organ, which is the gallbladder. This small organ is full of disgusting bile. You do not want it to be inside the bird and you want to make sure it did not break during the removal process. If it has broken, you will see a green and watery liquid. That is a bad sign and means that the meat has been contaminated with bile. Do not continue until you have identified the gallbladder and made sure it is intact.
Now, you will notice that there is a long chain, for lack of a better word, still connected to the vent. That is the large intestine. It is also connected to the viscera that you just removed. Place the pile of entrails away from your chicken. Use your knife to remove the vent. Cut around the vent, without cutting the intestine.
Once the vent and intestine are free of the bird, you can cut them out of the bowels and throw them away. Now is the time to return to the body cavity and get the remaining organs. Carefully remove the heart and lungs. You may need to use your nails to gently remove the lungs from the rib cage.
If you have a sink nearby, great! Otherwise, the garden hose will serve. Use the water to rinse the remaining pieces inside the chicken cavity. If you have trouble removing the lungs, this can help to dislodge them and facilitate their removal. A good spray is better and will really help rinse the cavity completely. The water should flow down the back and out through the neck. The water should be clear.
Now, you need to remove your feet. You can do this before the evisceration process if you prefer. Use your knife to cut the ligaments just above the “knee” in the leg. This is the joint where the stick is attached to the thin part of the leg. If you want to save your feet, you can. Many people use their feet to make stock. This also applies to sweetbreads. To each his own.
Another option you have is to remove the oil gland in the chicken. It will be the slightly yellow protrusion on the upper part of the tail fin. Simply use a knife and cut it, being careful to crawl under it to prevent oil from spilling on your flesh.
Rinse the chicken again and take care of the remaining feathers. This can become tedious, but unless you are removing the skin, you should pay extra attention. Some people use a rolled newspaper, turn it on and use the burned paper to burn the pens of the pin.
Preparing the chicken for cooking or freezing # 5
Once you have thoroughly washed your chicken, you will want to put it in the refrigerator for 24 hours. This is if you plan to make chicken for dinner. You want the meat to rest a little before serving it. If you plan to freeze the meat, you do not need to let it stand for 24 hours.
Assuming you are processing several chickens to freeze, allow the chickens to sit on the counter so that they dry out a little. You have several options for the preservation process. A Food Saver is an excellent way to remove moisture from the bag before putting it in the freezer. You can also use Ziploc freezer bags, but there will be moisture in the bag, which will result in ice crystals. This can shorten the life of the meat.
You can freeze the whole chickens or cut them into pieces. This is totally up to you. There is no right or wrong answer. Label the chicken once you have sealed it. A useful tool that you can use is something called a retractable bag. This gives you a finished product that looks like something you would have bought at the grocery store. You can use it on whole chickens or cut chickens. It is very easy and economical and reduces the risk of frostbite. A quick search on the Internet will give you a lot of information in these practical bags.
Growing your own food is something that more people have realized they should do. When you raise your own meat and complete the killing process yourself, you know you are getting a quality product. You do not have to worry about a food recall or worry about the health of the chicken before putting it on your table.
Killing chickens is a great first step to becoming self-sustaining. Some people will shudder at the thought, but it really becomes easier with practice and experience. You can sacrifice your own chickens and save money on processing fees while giving your family a healthy meal that they will appreciate.
DO IT YOURSELF