In this video I demonstrate how to process and butcher your own organic meat chickens. There is nothing better in life then to grow one's own food. There are few things that are absolute essentials in life, and food is one of those essentials. Being able to grow and raise one's own food is something that should be taught in every school in America in my opinion.
STAGE 1: DISPATCHING THE BIRD
The first thing I am going to do is choose a nice big bird to butcher. You can see here that I have a road cone with the end cut off of it, just a little bigger then the head of the chicken. I will be using it as the poultry restraining cone. I have it hanging here in this tree upside down and, I'm going to use it for the killing stage. They do sell Poultry Restraining Cones especially for this, which are better then using a road cone, but you know me, I just make do with what I have. Some people call it junk; I call it, “Repurposing”. LOL! Maybe one day I will buy a real poultry restraining cone.
So now, I'm going to feed this chicken down in here head first until the head comes out of the hole in the end of the cone. These meat birds are very tender, so when they flop around, they tend to break their wings and things. By putting them in this cone like this, it will keep them from breaking the bones when they flop around after I cut their heads off.
So, now I am going to cut its head off. I am using an Imacasa machete here, but you could use a large knife if you don’t have a machete. Imacasa machetes are one of the best, if not the best machete in the world, in my opinion. They are the preferred machete all throughout Central and South America where people actually us them to survive and make a living; so, they should know what is good. I have used Imacasa machetes for over 30 years, all through my jungle exploration days.
I like to use a machete for this part because it really makes it easy and, it is very quick. So, now I am just going to firmly grab its head and set the machete close to the base of the head and in one quick motion, pull down and towards me. Look how fast and easy that was. Death was instantaneous and, the bird experienced no pain. Of course, now you can see the bird wiggling. If it were not confined in the cone like it is, it would be flopping around violently, flinging blood far and wide and possibly damaging its bones. The restraining cone keeps it from flopping around and keeps the blood from flying all over the place. Even so, I still get some splattered on me. If you don’t want any blood to get on you, you might want to wear a Butchers Apron and Gloves. I think I have seen chicken Butchering Kits online that include everything you need for this whole process.
Okay, so once the bird stops flopping, I will take it over here and hang the bird on this drain line, which is made out of 550 Paracord, to continue draining the blood out of it before we take it to the next stage, which is the plucking stage.
STAGE 2: PLUCKING THE BIRD
Okay, so I am waiting for my water to boil here in my 36 quart Bayou Classic Stainless Steel pot. While I am waiting for the water to boil, I'm going to go ahead and skin this one just to show you how. When you skin a chicken, you really don't need to put it in the boiling water. It's better if you do it raw.
First, I am going to just cut along the breastplate here with my Leatherman pocketknife and make about a 3-inch incision. Skinning is easy. I am just going to put my hands into the incision I made, pull in opposite directions, and just pull the skin off. There is really no specific way to do it.
It is a lot faster to skin them than it is to pluck them, so I normally skin them. Everything's pretty easy to skin except for the wings. They are the most difficult part. Now to the skin on the neck area. You can see there is a crop here. That is the food storage bag where the chicken stores up food that slowly feeds into the gizzard. Just cut the skin around the crop and, pull it off. You will just need to cut the esophagus and wind pipe here. Just strip it off out along the neck to the top.
So, the chicken is pretty much skinned at this point. The wings are a lot tougher to skin than the rest of it because the skin just tends to rip. But if you grab the feathers and pull on them, that helps a lot. If you want to save the tail you can. I do not like the tail because it is all fat so, I normally just cut it off using my Tramontina 10 inch chef's knife (that my wife brought me because it’s a lot sharper than the Leatherman pocketknife I was using). And that bird is pretty much skinned. Now I will just wash it down a little to rinse off the loose feathers. I just a need to pull these few wing feathers that are left out and, we are done.
So, that is how you skin a chicken. Now I’ll show you how to pluck one. There is a lot of wind out here today so, it's making it really hard to boil my water. I have built a little wall here around my Bayou Classic Outdoor Gas Cooker to help keep the wind out and, it is helping to speed things up a little. Now that the water is boiling, I am going to put the chicken down completely underneath the water. You need to hold it down under the water for about 20 seconds or so. Then pull it up and, let it drip off.
At this point, the feathers should just kind of rub off as you see here. If you leave it in the water for 20 seconds like I did, the feathers, even the wing feathers, just come right out.
What you are actually doing when you put it the boiling water is cooking the skin. So, it can get delicate. This is why you have to be careful not to rip the skin when plucking. It is best to try to rub the feathers off and only pull where you have to.
Now I am going to wash it off and do a fine plucking to get all the little feathers off. But first, I'm going to go ahead and take the crop out. Again, the crop is a kind of a storage bag for all the food that the chicken eats before it goes into the digestive system. I'll just grab right there. Go ahead and take the crop and all the neck skin right off, just like I did when I skinned the first one. That way you don't have to worry about plucking that part. That's pretty much it. Just do a little fine plucking to get the little stuff off and you're done.
STAGE 3: CUTTING THE BIRD UP
Alright! So, we're ready to butcher the bird. So, I’ve got a nice big Stanton Trading 18 by 30 Nylon Cutting Board here. The first thing I am going to do is cut the feet off. Because this is a chick; the bones are very soft on it and you can just cut right through the joint with ease if you have a good sharp knife.
Now, I am going to make a shallow cut crosswise underneath the anus. Then I’m going to cut on either side of the breast, next to each leg. Just cut all the way from the front of the leg down on the right and left side of the anus, connecting to the first cut I made under the anus. Now, cut the skin on the top side of the anus. Now simply reach in with your fingers along the top of the inside of the breastplate all the way to the back as deep as you can. You can feel the heart right up in there. Just grab everything and pull backwards, and pull it all out. You will have to give it a good tug to get the throat tube to come out.
So, there are the intestines. Now, there is some useful stuff in here, like the heart. That's good eating right there. There is the liver. It is also good to eat, and it is good for fishing bait. Oops! I nicked the gallbladder there. Oh well, it will make good catfish bait. I’ll just stick that to the side. Then there is the gizzard. Let me throw the rest away there. I'm going to go wash this gall off real quick. You don't want that touching and contaminating your meat. These meat birds are a different animal to clean then fully mature regular chickens. They are a lot softer and a lot more tender.
Alright! So now, we are ready to cut it up. First, we are going to take off the leg quarters. So, lay the bird on its side and lay your knife flat against the side of the breast in front of the hip with the blade facing the hip joint. Then begin to cut down towards the tail pressing in and following the back bone. The blade will stop when it hits the hip joint. Next bend the leg backwards until you see the hip joint exposed. Then cut right through the hip joint and out the tail. Now do the other side just like the first side.
So, now that we have removed the two leg quarters, we will take the wings off next. Now lay the bird on its side again and pull the wing out. Now start cutting straight in at the base of the wing next to the breast to the wing joint. If you hit the joint just right you can go right through, if not, you can just cut all the way around it and, pull it off. You can cut deeper into the breast meat if you want a little extra meat on the wing. That would be good for Buffalo Wings.
Okay, now I am going to cut the neck off. Set the bird up on its tail and cut right down next to the breast on either side of the neck. Cut as deep as you can here. Now pull the neck back and cut it off right next to the backbone. There, done.
Now, I am going to cut the breast off. So, just set the bird on end, head end down this time. Now, place the knife flat against the inside of the breastplate and cut straight in, following the breastplate. Cut through the rib bones all the way to the front of the breast where it connects to the backbone, where the neck was. Now, break the breast over away from the back and cut the two joints. And there you have it! It is very simple to do. Not hard at all.
Now, I'm going to show you how to remove the gravel sack out of the gizzard. If you like the gizzard, which I do, you need to take the little gravel sack out. The gizzard is the chicken’s grinding muscle to grind up hard grains. So, it's full of grit, which is little pieces of sand and gravel that they swallow and store in the gizzard sack. The gizzard muscle contracts and squeezes when the bird eats hard seeds and grains and uses the grit and gravel in the gizzard to crush the seeds and grains so the bird can digest them.
To get the gravel sack out, you slice from the end on the fleshy (red) part of the gizzard until you see the white of the sack appear. Then just carefully pull each side away from the sack until it falls out. You have to be careful not to cut the sack. Don't rupture it because there is a lot of bitter stuff inside there and you don't want to get that on your meat. So, just be careful. On the young birds like this, it's really tender. So, it is hard to not rupture the sack. If you do rupture it, just make sure you don't get any of the grit and stuff on the meat. So there we go, all cut up.
Okay, now I am going to show you how to remove the scent gland that is located on the top of the tail. There isn’t a whole lot of meat on the back bone, especially the way I cut the bird up, but there is still a little and, you know me, I don’t like to waste anything. I’ll just to show you here how to do this. As you can see, there's a little gland on the top of the tail. Sometimes people don't want to eat the tail so they'll cut the whole thing off. But if you want to keep the tail you do need to cut this little gland off right here. So, you see the little bit that is sticking up there on the top of the tail. Place your knife at the back of the tail and cut under that and to the front of the tail. That’s it. The tail is all fat so I usually just cut it off and I don’t have to worry about that gland, but there are people that love the tail. It is also great for making bone broth.
Now, inside the back you have the lungs that you need to get out of you are going to eat the back. Here is how you get them out. What you want to do here is just dig your fingers in at the top of the rib cage and kind of peel them out like an orange peel. There's the rib-cage all nice and clean. Like I said, there is not a lot of meat on them, but they do make a good chicken soup, because the bones add an extra special flavor to it when boiled up.
There you go. All done!