Sunday, 18 April 2010

On chickens and stock

Some number of uncountable years ago, I was fed up with the commercial butchery of chickens. I decided to learn how to "process" them. What follows are some of my thoughts on this (messy) process. After washing the bird inside and out, I set out to (1) remove legs and wings (2) cut off the breasts and then create a stock. Oh, and fry up the liver for the liver consumer in the household.

Start breast side up. In step (1), I first remove the legs (and thighs). This is done by pulling gently on the leg with one hand whilst slicing gently through the skin. Next, viciously dislocate the joint by pulling the wrong way. You'll know it. Then slice around the joint. There, you have a thigh and drumstick. From there you separate the two by slicing through the joint. You can find it by feeling it. Even if you miss it's still easy to separate (it's not bone). Repeat for the other side.

In step (2), you dislocate the joint again and cut around with the knife. I cut off the wing tips to put in the stock pot. My mother objects because this is one of her favorite parts. So it goes. Repeat on the other side.

The last step is to cut along the breast bone, keeping the knife close to the bone but not into the bone. It's more of a clean slicing action. You'll also need to cut around the wish bone to release the breast. The supreme (where's my accent?) can be removed if you want. Repeat on the other side. The knife work is done.

At this point, you have a carcass. I throw it in a tall pot with whatever I can find, but celery is a must add. Onions also. I add cold water and turn on the heat and try not to let it boil. And I do skim the scum off the top when I can remember. I push it to the back burner and let it do its thing for hours (until I go to bed). If I was truly obsessive, then I suppose I could use egg whites to create a raft and really get a clear stock. I'm not that fussy.

I freeze the stock unless I have immediate plans for it. Like risotto. But that is the subject of another post.

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