Annotated Chicken Slaughter
September 18, 2017 8:37 AM   Subscribe

Annotated Chicken Slaughter
Our farmer friend culled his flock of chickens and we went out to help. I wrote up a description of how to turn a live chicken in to something resembling what you would pick up at the supermarket. Content warning: includes descriptions of killing and processing chickens. Photos are mostly gore-free but may not be appropriate for everyone.
Role: Writer, photographer, chicken-er
posted by backseatpilot (5 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

Very cool! The times I've helped kill/process/cook chickens in Cote d'Ivoire, we also scalded the chickens after death to make feather plucking easier. That was done by hand. Because we butchered them for cooking immediately after killing them, we did some things slightly differently - the chicken got chopped into pieces and immediately tossed into a stew, so eviscerating them happened differently and more of the chicken got held onto. Things like the neck, feet, stomach ... the lungs get cooked and eaten with the rib cage piece of the chicken, and the small intestine (I think) was held onto and cleaned out for tiny tripe. Where are your chickens being sold?
posted by ChuraChura at 8:53 AM on September 18, 2017

The chickens aren't being sold - since they didn't go through a USDA-licensed slaughterhouse they can't legally go on the market. We sort of got around this by "buying live chickens" and then what we did with them after that was our business.

It's sort of an interesting gray area in the livestock business. Our farmer friend usually ends up slaughtering his own goats and lambs, also, because the added cost of the slaughterhouse makes raising them economically infeasible. I think most of that meat goes to his own family, but I picked up a goat leg from him when we did the chickens.
posted by backseatpilot at 9:43 AM on September 18, 2017 [1 favorite]

I admire your willingness to go the extra mile for your meat. I've often wondered if I could do this myself. I think I could, but I'm sure it would trouble me and, to be honest, I'm not ready to put myself to the test any time soon. The most I've done was dispatch a lobster with a knife between the eyes before grilling it, or break a fresh-caught bass' neck so I could clean it, and even those tasks troubled me a bit.

Question: do you notice any difference in the meat when it's that fresh? Or do you just freeze it anyway?
posted by bondcliff at 6:27 AM on September 20, 2017

We took four birds; I froze three and we just finished eating the fourth. In order to get a good comparison, I cooked it the way I normally do whole chickens - roasted intact with a halved lemon and some herbs in the cavity.

The meat is... not tough, but noticeably firmer than what you would get at the supermarket. It could be the age of the birds or it could be because they were free roaming, I'm not sure. I noticed a very subtle tang of gaminess on the leg but my wife did not. The dark meat was definitely darker than what you would see from the grocery store. The skin was also much thicker which I found kind of interesting. It had a lot of juiciness but wasn't watery tasting.

As a cost comparison, we paid $25 per bird regardless of size. Not too bad compared to, say, Whole Foods, but he also gave us two free for helping out so overall it really bumped the cost down.
posted by backseatpilot at 6:37 PM on September 20, 2017

Interesting project! (Commenting as I read it.) I've found it helps to have a second person on chicken-killing--one to hold the knife, and the other to hold the feet. Most important thing there--PUT DOWN THE KNIFE. Don't be distracted, put it down as soon as you're finished with each bird. Waterproof boots, check. "Feet can be cooked but need to be skinned first; we decided this was more effort than it was worth, so they were discarded." But but but--STOCK! And yes, that sweet spot for cutting the feet off. Once you hit it, you know how it should feel. I used to use gloves to do the evisceration, but bare hands turn out to be better, as you can really get those last bits of lung. 52 birds? That's a long, hard day--thank you so much for this piece, which I'll review before the next butchering session.
posted by MonkeyToes at 11:37 AM on October 2, 2017

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