Dressing a whole chicken from start to finish is an essential skill that any prepper should possess.
You may not want to kill a chicken yourself, but in the event that you need to, it helps to know how to do it in the most humane way.
Cutting the chicken’s head with an ax or knife will kill it instantly if you cut below the eyes. Otherwise, you will have another case of “Mike, the headless chicken.” Even if you are able to kill it right away, the chicken would still thrash about, and the splattered blood would be very messy.
So before you cut the chicken’s head, it is best to sever the head from the neck manually. To do this, tie the chicken’s feet together, and hang it upside down. Hold the chicken’s body close to yours with your left hand, and place the index and middle finger of your right hand on either side of the chicken’s neck, where it meets the skull. Gripping tightly, pull the head down with sudden force until you hear a pop.
The moment the brain is separated from the neck, there will be a lot of writhing around, but that does not mean the chicken is in pain, since the part of the brain responsible for feeling pain is already severed. You can feel the pressure of the blood flow to the neck, and if you choose to, you can continue holding it for a minute or so until it stops moving.
You can then take the chicken down, slit the throat, drain the blood neatly, then cut the head off.
How to Pluck the Feathers and Remove the Organs
To make plucking easier, plunge the chicken into boiling water to loosen the feathers. Hold the chicken by the feet, and using a wooden ladle, fully immerse the chicken into the boiling water for ten seconds. You may have to soak older chickens longer but not exceeding a minute as you don’t want to cook the chicken. You should wear gloves to protect your skin from the heat.
Start plucking immediately after you pull the chicken out. If the feathers don’t come off easily, you can dip it in the hot water again for two to five seconds more. The light, hairy feathers that remain after plucking can be scalded off over a gas flame or any open flame.
To remove the internal organs, use a sharp knife to slice the skin around the butt carefully, taking care not to cut into the intestine. Close your hand around the guts, and pull them outward gently until all the guts have been removed. Make sure the gall bladder is removed along with the viscera and unruptured, otherwise the bile will spill into the meat and make it bitter.
Discard the viscera. You are now ready to butcher your dressed chicken!
Preparation for any food should always be sanitary, so make sure that your table, knife, and chopping board are all clean and dry.
Start by cleaning the chicken: Pull out the gizzard, liver, kidneys, and heart. Then rinse the chicken inside and out and pat dry to minimize drips. You’re now ready to cut!
How to Cut Up a Whole Raw Chicken
- Place the chicken on a clean cutting board. Using a sharp knife, sever the feet at the joint.
- To separate the leg from the body, slice through the skin between the breast and thigh, pressing the leg away from the body. Cut through the joint and skin carefully, following the body contour until the leg is detached completely.
- Pull the wing away from the body, and cut through the joint. Repeat the procedure with the other wing.
- To separate the breast from the back, start cutting at the pointed end of the breast, through the rib cage, and down to the shoulder joints. Remember to always sever at the joints.
- Trim the excess fat and gristle around the neck, the back, and the tail area.
- Cut the breast in half by using a chopping force on the center bone. You can use a butcher’s knife for this part, using controlled force. Once the bone is split, you can then slice through the meat and skin.
- Turn the breast pieces skin up to cut the breast halves into quarters. Cut diagonally through the bone.
- Separate the thigh and drumstick by cutting them apart at the joint. Repeat this procedure with the other leg.
- Depending on whether you divide the legs and the breast halves, you will end up with six to ten pieces of premium chicken, all ready to cook for dinner!
There are so many ways to cook chicken. It can be deep fried, sautéed, mixed with vegetables, barbecued, roasted, baked…. The possibilities are endless. But do you know that the other parts that others normally just throw away can be used to create amazing dishes?
What to Do with the Other Parts
#1. Back and Neck
Divide the back part into three pieces, and cut the tail off. You can take out the lungs by using your finger, a spoon handle, or a baby spoon. The back and even the neck are fairly meaty and are typically used to make broth. To make chicken soup out of the back and neck, wash the parts again to remove the remaining lungs, fat, and gristle. Add water and bring to a boil.
If you wish to harvest the remaining meat from the bones, you can do so after an hour of simmering then return the bones to the pot to continue simmering for two more hours.
You can use a few slices of ginger and a stalk of lemongrass to season your bone broth and sprinkle a dash of moringa powder and salt to taste. You can use the leftover meat for chicken sandwich spread, tacos, or casseroles with potatoes and tomato sauce.
The back and neck are also great for crispy fries. All you have to do is season them with vinegar, garlic, salt, and laurel leaves. Add a little water and boil them for 20 minutes. Dip them in beaten egg, sprinkle some pepper on them, coat them with flour, and deep fry till crispy. Yum!
#2. Giblets, Feet, and Claws
Don’t throw away the giblets (heart, liver, gizzard, neck, and tail) or the chicken feet and claw.
Store them in the freezer each time you cut up a chicken until you have enough of them to use for different recipes.
You can make a tasty gravy and an amazing dish out of the giblets, neck, and tail. To make the gravy, all you have to do is sauté the gizzards, livers, necks, and hearts with a lot of onions. Add soy sauce, vinegar, and salt to taste, and stir fry for three minutes. Add some water, and let simmer for 20 minutes.
In a separate bowl, mix some water, flour, and creamer or milk. Remove some of the sauce, add it to the flour mixture, and heat in another container, stirring until thick. You can then add oil to the giblets and stir fry them for ten more minutes, and you have an amazing dish!
Chicken Feet and Claw Dim Sum with Black Beans
If you’re a fan of collagen, then this tender package of almost fat-less skin and tendons is the best recipe for you! Carefully strip the hard, outer scale of the feet and clip the claw. Cut any dirty part of the feet and the claw and wash them thoroughly.
- 1 pound chicken feet
- 1/3 cup oyster sauce
- 4 cups water
- 1/2 cup red wine
- 2 pieces star anise
- 2 slices of ginger
- 1/3 cup black beans
- 2 tablespoon catsup or 1 tbsp. tomato sauce
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 piece bell pepper, chopped (You can use a chili if you want it hot.)
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- pepper to taste
Mix all ingredients in a covered pan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Simmer for 2 hours or until very tender. Delicious whether served hot or cold. Enjoy!
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