Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Butchering old laying hens

Disclaimer:  This post WILL in fact picture a dead chicken.  It is meant to show you "how to" skin an old laying hen and make some good soup!  I had a few requests for this, so here it is!

 Start with an old chicken ~ these ones were ISA Brown Laying Hens after about 1.5 years of laying.  There were 15 hens and laying about 4-5 eggs a day.  It didn't make much sense to keep feeding them expensive feed when their really good laying days were behind them.  They were also pretty cold with only 14 hens in the pen.
 If you have dogs, they will be eager for what they know it coming ~ it may be best to just ~
 lock up the dogs!
 This is our crude little chicken neck holder.  2 Nails to hold the head and we just use a hatchet to separate the head from the body.
 The blue 5 gallon pail was used to put the chicken in as it bled out.  You don't want blood in your meat. What my hubby ended up doing was just holding the chicken and letting it bleed out into the pail.  No flapping about.  While letting them twitch and flap about may be entertaining to some, it can damage your meat.  We weren't too concerned about damaging this old bird meat, but holding them kept the blood from getting everywhere, so we had a cleaner bird to work with.
 We just placed some heavy cardboard on top of some old barrels outside.  SHARPEN your knife.  I used a fish filleting knife.
Wearing your hubby's best work clothes is an added bonus and you just may feel redneck fashionable too!
 When it's cold out, it's nice to work on a warm chicken.
Push some breast feathers aside and make a slice into the skin.
 It can be pulled aside and the membranes cut to reveal all the breast meat.
 Move down to the legs.  We like to separate the legs first and leave the breasts for last.

 Just move slowly so you don't pierce the meat or the "guts" and there's no smell and mess :)
Push the legs back and they will kinda "crack" and then they are easy to cut off at the hip joint.
 Breast meat is easy, just slice down along the bone and don't jab the guts.  When we were finished we had a carcass with no mess to throw away and 2 legs and 2 breasts to make soup with.
14 chicken parts to make some good soup.  
I did fry up some of the breasts that night and they were a little chewy, but good healthy eating.
It took us 2 hours to set up, butcher and clean up for 15 chickens.  We didn't eat one of the hens.

It's nice not to waste too much but we didn't want to be bothered with gutting, etc for such old birds.  If we were starving, well, that would be different.

Hopes this helps a little.  It's pretty basic when you're not actually gutting a chicken.  Doing this in the fall, or a nice -1C January day is nice because there are no flies :)
UPDATE:   We have since tried the salt water brine recipe for an old rooster.  The skin was tough, but I soaked the rooster in a salt water brine for 2 days in the fridge.  Cooked it in a crock pot and it fell off the bone and was the best chicken we had eaten!  Girls are now asking for it more.  I did add some soy sauce and brown sugar to my brine, and there are MANY recipes on line for it.  Best would be to make up some brine, put your chicken in a heavy duty ziploc bag, pour in brine, then put the chicken in a container or your empty fridge crisper drawer.  YUMM

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I know I should but man it seems like a,sticky,process?