Yesterday was the big day for doing in the first batch of meat birds, and since I've had requests for documenting the process (mostly from folks who want to convince their partners "See how easy it is?"), I ran around with the camera like a chicken with it's... well, like a busy little photographer.
For the squeamish and the vegetarians in the crowd - you might want to skip today's post. For the curious (and the morbidly curious), here we go...
We're going to be taking something that looks like this:
and turn it into something a little more barbecue-ready.
To start with, the chosen ones were closed in their coop the night before, with lots of water, but no food. This was to ensure that the poop-pipeline (so to speak) was empty, making for a much cleaner process the next day.
Necks broken, heads removed, the chickens are hung up to bleed out.
Next, they're dunked in a water bath (in the 140-150 degree range) to loosen the feathers. We keep a big pot of water heating on the barbecue grill, with another pot preheating on the kitchen stove.
While I was waiting for Madman to dip the chicken, I got distracted by a garter snake on the rock wall surrounding one of my herb beds. Isn't he cute?
The big innovation this year was that Madman and his Dad went in halvies on a chicken plucker! Yay! (You may remember from last year that the plucking was the big bottleneck in the operation. Not that there's anything wrong with plucking chickens for Thirteen.Frickin'.Hours.) This machine is practically magic.
You have to keep a tight grip on the chicken, however, otherwise it tends to launch...
Just in case you were getting tired of looking at chicken butchery pictures and needed a break. This is one of my bush roses.
With feathers removed, it's time for those big stompin feet to go.
And now we're ready for the gooshy bits.
Here's a lupin.
Cut around the anus, then cut up the abdomen towards the breastbone.
Remove all the goosh.
You definitely deserve a flower after that bit. This is my rugosa rose. At the rate it's spreading, you'll be able to see it from your own front window in another year or two.
We use a bone saw to cut the chicken in half. Here's where Madman and I differ - I start on the back, he starts on the front. Either way works.
And all the way through.
Here's where I took over the process. I did the final washing and packaging, and cutting some of the chickens into quarters. See where my thumb is? Right at the tip, there's a depression where there's a weak spot in the spine that even a crappy knife can cut through. This is where to cut to divide the front half from the back half.
A good aggressive rinse, and they're ready to go in the freezer.
Our chickens were so big that whole ones had to be packaged in 2-gallon sized freezer bags. We could fit one half-chicken or two quarter-chickens in a 1-gallon size. I did some spot checking on weights as we went down through, and they weighed from a little over 7 lbs to a little over 9. (That's dressed weight, so about twice the size of the average supermarket chicken.) One chicken makes many meals for 2 people.
And here's one more of my roses - another rugosa in a frilly white. It's nowhere near as aggressive as the deep pink one, so you'll just have to settle for the picture.