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May 13, 2010 09:39 AM

Slaughtering your own chicken ... how to de-feather?

This weekend, a friend and I will attempt to slaughter our first chicken and hopefully make the best roast bird that either of us have ever tasted.

The cooking part we can take care of.

We can also handle grabbing the chicken, knocking it out cold, and cutting its throat.

It's the next part that is giving us a bit of a pause.

How to de-feather the chicken?

We've seen videos of operations using these large washing machine like structures with rubber fingers that essentially spin and strip the chicken of all its feathers.

Well, we don't have one these contraptions.

So, my question to the Chowhound gurus, are we left to our own devices (hands and shears) to de-feather this bird?

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  1. As I remember from my grandmother, you shove them down into a pot of hot water to soften up the quills, and then go at it with your hands. It sounds like as much fun as scaling a fish with a butter knife, so have a glass of wine on the ready, and play some favorite tunes.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Veggo

      Just like veggo says. a pot of hot water helps get the feathers out. It is somewhat important that it not be boiling water. There is a video on UTUBE where a chef demonstrates it for a class of want tobe chefs. She kills the bird, defeathers it drains the blood (Which she saves!), butchers it completely and it is still warm.It ook her about 7 minutes, I think.

    2. I've never cleaned a chicken but when we clean waterfowl (ducks and geese) we just start picking the feathers. When you get down to the pin feathers and down that is hard to get out you can dunk the bird into melted paraffin wax. You then scrape the wax off. We didn't actually melt an entire kettle of wax. We actually melted it in a coffee can on the gas grill and poured it on the bird out in the backyard.

      1. Like Veggo said:

        I've heard people say that pliers are good for pulling pinfeathers.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Ruth Lafler

          I've only tried my hand at plucking a turkey. No one offered pliers. It's *very* hard on your finger tips!

        2. Sounds like a great opportunity to make a real rustic "Beggar's Chicken". No need to pluck the feathers at all. The real version start with unplucked chicken, caked all over with mud/clay, buried in leftover camp fire ashes. When done, you throw down the whole piece to break the clay, and as you remove the pieces, the feather gets plucked with it....

          otherwise, yes, what everyone else says, hot water bath, quick pluck... Not sure you'd want to eat anything after smelling the feather+hot water for however it takes to do the job though.

          1 Reply
          1. re: HLing

            Thanks for the Beggar's Chicken idea.

            We've got two chickens. One is ready to be slaughtered (this weekend). The other one still needs some feeding, so maybe next weekend ( which means more homegrown egg omelets!).

          2. yep hot water.

            cut chicken inverted, drain blood in a bowl with half cup of water+1tea salt to make "chicken blood" you can saute that in some chilipaste, black bean sauce, onions/leeks, spring peas and any other nasty bits (gizzard, heart, kidneys, etc) from the chicken. just let the blood set for a few minutes and cut in cubes.

            not sure if you know this already, we always cut the oil gland from the chicken butt. it is the part that stick up in the middle of the triangle. just dig in a bit with your paring knif and cut it off. we think it make the meat taste better.