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Sunday, October 31, 2010

Butchering and Ethics of Chicken

I love butchering chicken. It is very relaxing and fun. Every week I get an organic chicken that is free range and was never injected with hormones. If there was a local farm near my home that raised chicken I would 100 % get from them, but there are none so I must buy from the supermarket. Chickens that are not free range live their whole life's inside. They never see grass, sky, sun, etc. Imagine living in a world where you were kept inside locked in a cage for your whole life. The chickens are absolutely miserable. And by the way they are fattened so much that they cannot even walk. It is an absolute disgrace! Never buy chicken from big corporate companies like Perdue or Tyson. They torture the chickens, lock them up and fatten them into misery. For your information these chickens taste horrible. There is no flavor in them. There is no chicken flavor. The first time I ever had a real chicken that was properly raised it blew me away. It actually tasted like chicken. I repeat never ever buy chicken from Perdue or Tyson again! Support your local farmers who are passionate about what they are doing.

There are great videos on Youtube that go into great detail about farming food with Dan Barber, which I encourage you to watch.

When most people get whole chickens there first thought is to roast it whole. There are pros and cons to roasting whole chickens. The major pro is that it looks great and brings you back to your childhood. Everyone remembers Sunday night dinners with their families where mom has just roasted a beautiful, delicious chicken. The major con is that the breasts are overcooked while the legs are undercooked. Breast are perfectly cooked when they reach 155 degrees Fahrenheit, while legs are perfectly cooked when they reach 170 degrees. Would you ever imagine cooking pork tenderloin and pork belly for the same amount of time. Absolutely not. The pork tenderloin would way over cook, just like the chicken breasts do. This is why I butcher my chicken and utilize the different organs in with different cooking techniques.
Now on to my butchering techniques. I start off by turning the chicken on it's backside. I then break the legs off the carcass just with my hands. Then I take my knife and start to make incisions near the joint that I broke. While I am doing this I am also pulling the leg away from the carcass.  I try my best to make sure I remove the oyster from the carcass with the leg (I was successful with one of the legs). The oyster is the best part of the chicken. There are two oysters in every chicken. They are very flavorful and extremely tender. Next, I remove the other leg with the same technique stated above. After the legs I break the wing joint and slide my knife around it and pull off the whole wing. I repeat this on the second wing. Now onto the breasts and tenderloin. I take my knife and slice across the wish bone removing the whole breast in one slice. Now just with my hand I pull then tenderloin away from the carcass in a clean motion.

I love chicken skin. Simply seasoned with salt and pepper and crisped up it is delicious. Chicken skin is the bacon of chicken. At the Gorbals, executive Chef Ilan Hall, he has a dish that is called the GLT which is a sandwich with lettuce, tomato, and crisped chicken skin. I take the skin off the back of the chicken and will use it as a garnish to one of my dishes in the week.
I took the breast and brined them in a salt, sugar, lemon, garlic, thyme, pepper, and water solution. I took the legs and skin and put a quick cure on them. I seasoned them heavenly with salt, pepper, lemon zest, thyme, and sugar.

I took the wings and carcass and roasted them in the oven with onion, garlic, parsnip, carrot, tomato paste, and smoked pork neck bones. Once they were caramelized I dumped them in a pot of water to start my stock. I simmered the stock for about 5 hours skimming away the fat constantly. Once the stock was done simmering I strained it and put it into an ice bath and skimmed it a final time. The stock went into the freezer for later use.

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