A very bad dress (dressing roosters)

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Well, nearly a decade off the farm, and yesterday I tried to do a start to finish chicken dressing. I could use a little advice on solving a few problems, if anyone would be so kind. I did read the archives before starting, thank goodness.

Had a heck of a time getting his head off. Finally twisted his neck, then dipped him into the hot water. Everything worked pretty good right up to the internal part. I cut the oil glands above the tail and had horrible problems removing the internal organs. After I was almost succesful, I realized that his windpipe and etc in his neck were holding up progress. In the process of loosening his innards at the top, I accidentally ruptured the horrible slim bag hooked to his liver. This is too say nothing of the problems I had removing his vent without chopping into it! Ugh!!!

The questions, could you give me very specific details on the internal dressing part?? Like, how do I NOT cut the vent (and related attachments)when cutting around it, and how do I get the stuff in the neck loose (after the head is gone)? Oh, and what's the trick to not cutting the oil glans? I think if the vent removal and throat stuff had gone better, I'd've been done 20 minutes earlier!

I decided to wait until after I'd asked for advice before starting in on the the others.

Thank you all.

-- Marty (Mrs.Puck@Excite.com), May 21, 2001


Ok here's our way of butchering chickens. First, we hang the rooster by his legs, grap the chickens head (best to wear leather gloves for this)stretch his neck and with a sharp knife cut off the head. If you are standing with the chicken facing you it works best. The chicken will flap his wings and bleed out and you will not have to chase it around the yard. We used to use an ax and block, then you miss and it gets messy, this is much better.

After he quits flopping remove from the hang line and dip into water that is not quite boiling. We have a plucker so we try to get the water to about 180 degrees and hold it there. Slosh around making sure all the feathers are soaked, remove, drain and begin plucking.

Over the years we have come to the conclusion that one or two whole chickens meet our needs so this method has evolved, with the advice of my mother. First remove the wings at the joint. If you lay the chicken on its back on the table, grasp the wing and tip toward the front you can cut through the joint at the underarm-like spot. Turn the chicken sideway, still on its back and kind of spread the leg from the body. This way you can cut through the skin, not cutting the meat on the inside of the leg down to the hip joint. After you have cut the skin, slide the chicken to the side of the table and bend the leg downward. It will pop the joint out of the socket and you can cut through the tendons and remove the leg. Seperating the thigh and drumstick is easily done by cutting from behind the knee and push down on the joint at the edge of the table. You now have the body of the bird left. Still on the back, slit across the hind end just below the brest bone just until you are through the meat. Careful that you don't cut to deep and get into the gut. I slide my two fingers into this slit, and carefully slit the skin to the hip joint on each side. Now, once again lay the chicken (on its back over the edge of the table and push down on the hind end. This breaks the back at the rib cage and brings all the guts out of the cavity. You then slit the windpipe (I think) and cut through the back and lay it aside, with the intestines attached. Now you can clean out the lungs and get your hand up in to the cavity to pull out the wind pipe. Usually you will get the crop as well, especially if you didn't feed them the night before and it is empty. If they are stuck, I usually slit the neck skin and pull out from the top. I have been known to use a pair of pliers to get ahold of the windpipe. This give you your breast and rib cage intact if you wanted to stuff and bake. If not you can lay on the side and inserting the point of your knife into the wing socket press down along the bottom of the ribs. Then put the breast up on the edge of the table and push down on the back breaking it free from the brest and ribs. We rinse out the cavity good and place in cold water.

Now the back. You can slide your fingers under the guts from the top where you cut the back and peel them out pulling toward the tail. By holding the guts to one side you can cut the skin along side the pelvic bone to the base of the tail and you will be able to then cut around the oil gland and tail and discard with the guts. You can clean the back much easier this way too. If you want to keep the heart, liver, gizzard they are seperated from the meat before you start to sort them out so you're not going to break the bile duct on your good chicken.

Hope this makes sense, other folks probably have their way but this works for me. We (husband and I) butcher about 50 chickens every other year. I can dress out about twelve in an hour or so. Good luck.

-- Betsy K (betsyk@pathwaynet.com), May 21, 2001.

I know you had a rough time, but I couldn't help chuckling as I read this! What a visual! I'm not much of a chicken eater, so my 'kids' live out their lives with me. Perhaps this site will be of some help to you:


-- ~Rogo (rogo2020@yahoo.com), May 22, 2001.

Long time since I've done it, but one thing I found useful was two long nails a little into a chopping block, closer together than you'd ever think a chicken neck would fit into - it's the feathers that make the difference. Fit the chicken's neck between them (head makes a stopper), stretch out straight, use your choice of cutting implement, hold chicken against block so blood is directed away from you. From there, I'd have to rely on muscle memory to do the cleaning, and I have never (but will next time) try skinning instead of plucking.

-- Don Armstrong (darmst@yahoo.com.au), May 22, 2001.

Just thought I would add the way I have found to be the easiest, cleanest way to kill chickens. I take a sturdy burlap sack or even a stout old pillowcase and cut a hole in one corner just big enough to put the chickens head thru. Then I put the chicken to be killed in the case, reach in and push the head thru the hole and then sort of wind the bag up tight (folds). Then lay the chicken on a piece of wood or anything that wouldn't damage the knift and with a very sharp knift cut thru the vein and let him bleed out. The sack can be tied if it is a one-person job. Just hold him down until he stops struggling. You don't get all splattered with blood and the chicken stays clean. No flopping in the dirt. Hope this helps. Rita

-- Rita Glyn-Jones (felfoot @twlakes.net), May 22, 2001.

We don't care for the skin, and find skinning a rooster to be much easier than dipping and plucking. You do need to cut off most of the wing to acccomplish it. Once all the skin is pulled down around the vent area, and you have loosened all those little things around the neck with your fingers, cut a slit just through the skin below the breast bone. Reach in and pull everything down, then use your knife to cut down and around it all. I cut around the vent, cutting off the tail(and those glands) all at once. Then put the bird in a sink of cold water and finish cleaning out the lungs and such that hang on. It's pretty quick once you've done a few this way. Mind you, this will not give you a professionally done look, but is very servicable for your own use. Good luck on the next one. Number one is always the hardest, and takes the longest.

-- mary (marylgarcia@aol.com), May 22, 2001.

Last time (about 15 years ago) I butchered a chicken it went something like this:

Cut off the head rather close to the wings ( don't like the necks anyway, so the cat got them). Defeathered after draining. Dunked for a few seconds in boiling hot water, then in ice water.

Instead of cutting around the vent first, we cut from the sternum down to near the vent, pulled everything out by hand, then finished cleaning by cutting out the 'parts' etc etc.

Finished him up with another dunk in the hot water, and a soak (and final inward cleanout by hand) in the cold.

Don't know if that was the 'correct' way of doing things, but it sure beats going through what you just did, lol!

-- Sue Diederich (willow666@rocketmail.com), May 23, 2001.

Believe it or not, there are very good directions on how to dress out poultry and other things as well in the Joy of Cooking. There are also excellent recipes for lesser known vegetables and for organ meat and all kinds of things you would expect to find in Countryside Magazine or the like!

-- Sheryl in ME (radams@sacoriver.net), May 27, 2001.

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