Minus four

The last four chickens we killed are mostly eaten now.  It was a very long night of slaughtering, plucking and gutting; I won’t do so many in a single night again for a while!  It really brings home how time and labour intensive it is to produce though.

The first thing we did was to gather the boys up and cut their throats.  We like to do this out of sight of the others, which may be anthropomorphic softness on my part, but isn’t any extra effort either.

We also chop off the heads once the bleeding has largely subsided, just to be sure.  If there’s one thing I can’t abide, it’s zombie chickens.

Next: plucking.  We’d never done this before.  Plucking involved a dunk in hot water and a trip over a borrowed power-plucker.  This machine was a spinning drum with rubber plucking fingers mounted around the outside, which made short work of the downier feathers, though quite a few big ones remained.  Far easier has been skinning, which I combine with the jointing process.  It means that the carcass can be gutted afterwards which makes it all very simple, quick and clean.  It’s also easier to remove the lungs and kidneys.

I smoked Fred and Barney in the Weber in our traditional style: rosemary as the smoke (because we have masses!) and maple syrup glaze.  Note the Ironbark vineyard cab sav in the background, for scale and as a gratuitous plug to the lovely grape growers and friends who also gave us the grapes we’re currently fermenting.

Fred and Barney have given us some very nice meals including fettucine with a creamy, mustardy, smoked chicken and mushroom sauce.  One of the benefits of eating our dear lads is that I always feel inclined to put a bit of effort in.  Jar sauce wouldn’t do their memory justice.

And here’s Anaconda (we got araucanas and this ancona at the same time, and the mixed-up name stuck!).  He’s stuffed with oats and pumpkin, again with the maple syrup glaze.  Anaconda’s best buddy Red4 didn’t make it into a picture.  His age consigned him to the stewing pot, with beetroot from the garden, among other things.

Fred and Barney were barnevelders (Barney was the one with the broken toe), Red4 was a Rhode Island Red, and Anaconda was a bantam ancona. Thanks guys, you were fun to raise and delicious to eat.


3 responses to this post.

  1. On request, the recipe for the stew was that I fried the skinned(?) and jointed chicken in plenty of butter until brown and the butter was nicely coloured, then put aside. Might’ve floured it first. Then fried a finely chopped onion, a chopped carrot, and 3 peeled and chopped beetroot and a peeled and chopped apple (i used pink lady because that’s what we had) in that butter, added about 1/2 cup red wine, simmered for about 5 min then put the chicken back in. I think I cooked it for about 1.5 hours or so with the lid on, but you’ll know when it’s done. Best to move the chicken about every half hour or so because otherwise it will be very unevenly coloured. Probably added some thyme too. We had it with the beetroot leaves finely sliced and wilted in hot oil or butter. Sorry it’s a bit vague, I tend to let the force guide me on matters culinary. Let me know how yours goes if you try it!


  2. Thanks so much!! Waiting for my beets to grow in the garden.


  3. […] I said last chicken, when we eat a chicken we’ve known, I feel like we should try for something special, so I […]


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