Saturday, September 10, 2011

My First Time Processing Chickens and the things I learned ( No graphic pictures)

 As nature would have it, we ended up with more roosters than hens this summer.  Having chosen the ones that will be my breeders for next year, that left the others to cull.  Though the Cochin don't have much meat on them at this age, I hate to waste anything.  So this morning I went outside and caught five to put into the freezer.  I figured women have been killing, plucking, and gutting chickens for hundreds of years - how hard could it possibly be?  I even watched a couple of videos on the computer showing how to do it.  Piece of cake!, I thought.
  I gathered my knives, got a pot of water heated for scalding,  my glass picnic table ready with a trash can-  I was set.  

Step 1- Hang chicken by feet and cut it's throat and let the blood drain out.  

Hanging the chicken by its feet was easy enough.  I grabbed the knife in one hand and held his head in the other and with one swift motion... nothing.....  the knife would not cut.  I thought maybe it was because of the feathers so made sure the blade was against the skin.
Confidence in Free Fall
With a deep breath and one swift motion... nothing.  Not even a scratch!   ( Big Sigh....) The same knife I had tested the night before- on a soft tomato and it slid right through it like it was  butter- was  not  cutting the skin of the chicken.    The confidence I had for this adventure suddenly took a nose dive.

Weapon of mass destruction

Determined not to give up, I was able to find an old mop.    Laying it on the ground,  I put the chicken's neck underneath the handle while placing a foot on either side of it's head.  Holding the chicken by the feet, one quick jerk upwards and it was all over, the neck was broken. Some of my confidence restored, I moved on to the next step.

Scalding pot
I needed a large pot of water approximately 145-148 degrees. Having  grabbed my largest pot  it was sitting on the fish cooker, warming up.  Earlier the temperature of the water had been 160 and short of turning off the gas altogether, that was the lowest I could get it.   Figuring I could  compensate by not leaving the chicken in the water very  long, I reached over and lowered it down into the pot-  Well most of it anyway.  Apparently the pot wasn't quite as big as I thought it was.  The chicken fit, if I forced it, but just barely.   After, swirling the chicken left and right, then lifting him up and down a few times I was able to easily pull out a wing feather.  Hey, this wasn't so bad!

Pulling the chicken out of the water, I hung it by the feet again and called my 14 year old son to come pluck feathers so I could move on to the next rooster.   Now,  my son is a little taller than me and can be quite mature at times.  This was not one of those times.  One look at the soaking wet chicken and he scrunched up his face and started saying " Ewwwww!"   And he didn't stop saying it the entire time he plucked  the front of the chicken.
Uncool Cooler
By the time he got the front of the first chicken done, I had the second chicken scalded, plucked  and was ready to drop it into the first cooler of ice.
Opening the lid, I realized that the ice was still in the bag, and I needed to add water. ( DOH!)  Helpful Hint : It is  a lot easier to add chicken to a cooler that already has ice free floating in water, than trying to hold a naked chicken in one hand, while trying to open a 20 pound bag of ice, dump it in the cooler then add water using the hose with the other hand.
Once the plucking was finished, it was time to remove the insides of the birds.  Surprisingly, this was pretty simple and straight forward.
After gutting, I went on and  cut the chicken into pieces.  While doing so, I noticed the outside of the breast meat had turned white from being slightly cooked  while scalding.   Oh well, it's all going to be chicken 'n dumplings anyway.   Because of this experience, it will go better next time.  Especially since I now know what not to do.
One small cut up chicken

No comments:

Post a Comment