Skill added…cleaning chickens

Saturday a good friend of my wife’s told me that her husband was willing to let me watch/help/learn the process of butchering and cleaning some meat chickens.  She has been providing us with 75% of the eggs we need for 9 months or so now, but they also raise meat birds once in a while.

I wish I had some pictures, which I don’t, but it was a good educational day.  He taught me everything, step by step, from the hen house (where the chickens had been fasting for 24 hours) to the freezer and I got to do it all myself, twice.  It took 3 hours.

It feels good to learn something so basic…like I’m reconnecting with a process that most people would have known 100 years ago or so.  I have a new appreciation and respect for the animal and the meal.   I also have a new determination to understand how local big-box stores can sell me a prepared rotisserie chicken for $2.50.  It doesn’t make sense.

He let me take home one of the two meat birds that I butchered and cleaned.  We’ll be preparing it tonight and we already plan a chicken barley soup for the leftovers.  To thank him I brought over two bags of feed for the egg layers.


5 responses to this post.

  1. That’s crazy. I just learned how to clean rabbits. My lab also learned how to retrieve game. It’s great getting back to sustainable basics!

  2. Wow. Good for you. I’d be interested in hearing your assessment of any taste/texture/fatty differences between the birds you brought home and the $2.50 rotisserie chickens available at the market. I’ve heard that the farm-raised ones are tremendously less fatty.

  3. My wife was going on and on about the texture of the meat. She couldn’t say enough about how flaky and layered the meat seemed compared to what we were used to. I appreciated the taste but it’s hard to put a finger on exactly how it was different. I definitely thought it was better. The only fat to be found was a thin layer under the skin. Just enough to add flavor. Four of us ate dinner twice from the baked chicken and then there was enough left over to can 4 pints of stock and prepare a full crock pot of soup with barley, broccoli stems and onion.

  4. I’m also starting to wonder if the $2.50 rotisserie chickens are loss-leaders being cooked in the store almost as a marketing trick. The delicious smells coming from the deli draw people up there and then they sucker you in with $4/pound mac & cheese and mashed potatoes. (I’ll just grab a chicken and a few sides…I’ll be right home.)

  5. Posted by agape7 on February 20, 2009 at 8:47 pm

    The farm chicken was fabulous! The layers of meat melted in your mouth. The store bought breasts we had the next week were like having one big mass blocky/fatty meat. It was just very different and well worth the work!

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