Butchering A Chicken

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1)  Kill the chicken.  There are a lot of ways to do this, but I have always cut the head off with a hatchet.  Drive two nails into a stump, far enough apart for the neck to fit.  Place the neck between the nails with the head held firmly against them (this works best with two people, one to hold the chicken while you kill it, but I've done it alone).  The chicken will look at you, but will not attempt to escape.  If you are killing more than one bird, make sure that you wash away all of the blood before bringing the next bird.

2)  Cut off the head with one blow - sharpen the hatchet before begining, and if you are killing more than one bird, sharpen it every couple of birds.  Believe me, this is worth your time - not only is it cruel to use a dull blade which will not kill with a single stroke, but you'll also end up covered in blood.

3)  Drop the chicken headfirst into a container to bleed out.  A bucket with holes is fine, though I found that a planting container left over from a fruit tree that we transplanted was ideal.  I don't do this for a set time - I just leave it until I'm ready to start plucking.


4)  Bring a large pot of water to a boil and remove from the heat.  You might let it cool slightly, though I don't bother.  Hold the chicken by the feet, and dip it into the hot water for about 20 seconds.  When you use water that's too hot, the skin can tear a little as you pluck it, but who really cares?  Unless you're going to be selling the bird, do it my way - it's much faster and easier.

5)  Put the bird on the table (cover it with a plastic bag or newspapers to make the clean up easier) and start plucking.  You will probably be able to pluck most of the bird by pulling out handfuls of feathers, though you will find it harder in some places. 

6)  You will not be able to get the pin feathers - these are feathers which are just coming in and look almost like little hairs.  Ignore them - I prefer to raise either white or buff colored birds for meat because you can't see them on a plucked and cooked bird.


 7)  Sharpen your high carbon steel knive - this will make the entire experience much more pleasant.  I usually use a boning knife and a paring knife, switching back and forth as necessary.  If you don't have high carbon steel knives, buy some -  you can't get stainless steel really sharp.


8)  Lay the plucked bird on a large wooden cutting board.