Chicken Butchering Part 2: How to Pluck a Chicken
If you don’t scald the chicken, it’s almost impossible to pull the feathers out. Of course, you could always remove the feathers by skinning the chicken, but I like the juiciness that the skin gives a roasted or fried chicken, so I prefer to leave the skin on.
We spent about $60 to buy a turkey fryer. It comes with a big pot, just the right size for filling with water and dipping a chicken. We began heating the water about 30 minutes before we began killing chickens, so that the water would be at the right temperature. Leah liked it to be about 180 degrees according to the thermometer that came with the Turkey Fryer set up. She dipped it in and out of the water about 10 times, being sure that the tail and wings were submerged well.
The tail and wing feathers are hardest to remove, so Leah started with those first. After that the feathers come out fairly easily by just rubbing your thumbs along the skin in the opposite direction of the feathers’ growth. We set up trash cans lined with garbage bags next to the plucking stations to make it easy to get ride of the feathers as we went. (Our plucking stations were actually the side burners of our gas grill. We covered it with a plastic painter’s tarp to keep everything clean.)
Once the main feathers are removed, you’re left with pin feathers. To remove these, lift the water pot from the Turkey Fryer’s burner, and use the gas flame to singe the pin feathers off the bird. It’s important not to remove the neck or feet before you singe the bird. These are the “handles” you use while singeing so that you don’t burn your hands in the process. Even after all this, you’ll probably have some bits and pieces to remove before packaging. Or you can always do that part as you’re preparing the bird for cooking later.
Once the bird is plucked, we put it in an ice chest filled with ice and some water. This helps the bird cool down before the cleaning process.