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WARNING: Not for the faint of sight.

2010-07-07: A Northern Goshawk killed one of our hens today.

I might as well eat the hen, since it died from known causes. It took a surprising amount of force to chop through the hen's neck (an FYI for future butchering jobs); this is presumably why a sharp axe is the standard idiom. I bled the hen by hanging it from its feet; apparently you get more blood out if the hen is still alive, but that sounds even more macabre and inhumane.


You need to do something about the feathers: - Peel off skin + feathers all at once (a bit less sanitary) - Boil and pluck, like the pros, in a plucking machine - Just hand pluck (takes maybe half an hour, but it helps get over the squeamish/ick factor)

The chicken's entire digestive tract is going to have to come out; this is infinitely cleaner if you can do it all in one peice, and it's also slightly easier if it's empty (standard rule: no last meal; no food at all for last 24 hours). Right at the base of their neck is the crop, followed by the muscular gizzard. This is connected back to their lower intestine and cloaca. Step one is to loosen the crop and gizzard from the neck side. Step two is to very gingerly slice the skin right at the base of the "keel", at the top of the stomach, being careful not to go too deep and open the intestines. The sromach skin can be carefully peeled back, revealing the thin muscles of the abdominal wall. Very gently incise these enough to reveal the bottom of the liver. Recover the liver if you want. The liver is surprisingly flaky. Still smells like liver.

This chicken had a thick layer of abdominal fat. Now the "fun" part: make a little room on top of the keel and slide your hand up on top of all the guts, like Hannibal Lecter would feel up a chicken. Now slowly tear all of that stuff out from the top, eviserating the chicken, so the guts just dangle. Trim off the guts, cloaca, and tailfeather stump all in one piece (to keep the chicken poo contained), and rinse from the top. Pick out the heart and any organs you want to save. The lungs tend to stick to the top of the abdominal cavity, and there are some sort of bonus organs stuck along there too. Scrape 'em out and wash well, or just eat it. It's chicken.

Using a pair of kitchen shears is a lot safer than a razor-sharp knife. Trim off any excess skin, and cook in a pan at 400F for about an hour. A little olive oil and garlic drizzled over the skin works well. Sadly, there's almost zero breastmeat on a laying hen.

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All images taken by Orion Lawlor and placed completely in the public domain.
Converted to HTML on Wed Aug 31 22:47:24 AKDT 2011.
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