Dispatching/Skinning update: graphic

Discussion in 'Meat Birds ETC' started by suburbanhomesteader, Oct 27, 2007.

  1. Well, I got to test my new chicken dispatcher on my 3 tester game hens (RIF-rest in freezer).


    I had it screwed all the way out so that there would be virtually NO room left when the surfaces came together. I figured that I would rather it act as a guillotine than not kill the chicken. For the first two birds, I held their legs, calmed them, and then laid their neck in bottom side of the holder. I slowly reached up, brought the top down until it was just touching the feathers (but didn't clamp down on the neck at all, so the bird would not feel as though it was trapped, and then WHAM, brought it all the way down as quickly as I could. I may be completely wrong here, but my impression of what happened was that the device broke their neck, but did not kill them. In each of the first two cases, the birds bodies flapped like they would have had they been beheaded, but their eyes remained blinking and alert looking, and they made what looked to be sentient attempts to "look around". Because they didn't look "dead yet" (which sounds like a Monty Python bit), I took my #2 Felco pruning shears to their neck, and quickly cut as deep as I could. Interestingly, the pruning shears did NOT cut their heads off, but seemed to cut their vertebra, and the chickens went into new, vigorous paroxysms as if they had not gone through that first set at all.

    Needless to say, that distressed me greatly. On the 3rd bird, I used the dispatcher to crush it's head instead of it's neck. It was clear that it died on the first pull.

    I dispatched the birds one at a time, because it is INFINITELY easier to skin a very warm animal than one which has cooled even slightly. The bird I skinned the other day was a Cornish X, and had very few feathers. These were old, mature birds and there were some distinct differences in skinning them.

    First, I had a 6-8" rope which had slip knots at both ends; as soon as the chicken quit moving, I slipped the knots over the feet and hung it on a hook so that the birds were hanging about chest level. I had realized after reading the article that I find it a LOT easier to skin a bird the way I skin a deer; rather than CUT the skin off, I just pull it off, like pulling a sock off a foot. To do that effectively, I have to be able to start a little high and pull down.

    After the first chicken, I gave up on the first two sections of wing, and only kept the wing "drumstick". For some reason, I was unable to pluck the feathers out of the mid-wing section, and since I don't eat those anyway, I decided not to worry about it.

    I dry-plucked about an inch of feathers off the front of each drumstick, and "tented" the skin so I could slice into it with the knife and not hit meat. I took that slice and slid the knife the whole way down the front of each drumstick, with the sharp side facing the skin, not the meat. Once I had that nice cut, I just reached in and freed up the skin all the way around the leg, pulled the skin away from the drumstick, and cut it off at the yellow part of the leg. I used that "grip" of leg skin to just pull strip the skin down, down, down. Sometimes, the skin would rip and I'd have to get a new grip, but by the last chicken, I pulled down and the skin popped off the arms just like I was taking a kid's t-shirt off (if they were hanging upside down). I pulled the skin and feathers back, away from the tail area, and then followed the articles technique; removed wing drumstix, filleted breast meat (although I made sure to get the area around the wishbone, which seems to be left behind using his technique), and then broke the joint at the start of the yellow part of the leg and cut through it with a scissors. I discovered that I recovered more meat if I cut the thighs off while the carcass was laying on a table. Once the thighs were off, I would cut in the cartilage of the rib area, pull out the heart and liver, then cut along the side of the "belly" and pull out the gizzard. The gizzard lining of the Cornish peeled off so easily it surprised me; the gizzard lining of these was more typically almost impossible to separate.

    Doing it that way, with the dispatcher and the skinning, left only 4 drops of blood anywhere in sight. It was amazingly clean! I didn't even have any blood on my hands until I opened up the body cavity to retrieve the organs!

    As a point of reference, these were my wildest birds, yet they still had a good layer of fat around the base of the breast, on the legs, and in the body cavity.

    The first bird took me 26 minutes to do (I had trouble trying to make a cut all around the base of the thigh, without cutting too deeply), from the moment it stopped moving until my rinsing off the knife. The 2nd bird took me 19 minutes to do (once I had figured out the "tenting" and "pulling skin like a deer" technique). The 3rd bird took me 16 minutes; I don't think I could do it faster than that, by myself.

    I put the meat in ice water as I was removing it from the birds, and then drained the ice water at the end of the evening and refreshed it. I let the birds soak in icewater overnight, and today took some of the meat to a friend's house. He thought the meat was from one of the Cornishes! He could not believe how tender and mild flavored this meat was!

    4 down, 28 to go! I need to get photos tomorrow; my black broilers are not even HALF the size of the Cornishes; not sure I'm going to do black broilers again; might have to try something else.
  2. picklespickles

    picklespickles Songster

    Oct 27, 2007
    i've had some similar experiences. and i know about the pruning shears! i also do not like to have them be in any more pain or fear than they have to be. much better to just get things over with. skinning is much faster than plucking. i really don't understand why people pluck. i have eaten chickens, but honestly find it easier to kill roosters. they're often mean.

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