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GaryD

Skinning chickens

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Hi,

A few days ago, I watched a YouTube video where some American quail hunters processed their catch by skinning them......rather than plucking them.

Years ago, we had some Fijian Indian customers who used to buy huge broiler breeder cockerels from us.

They lived in the city and processing poultry was not possible, so we used to let them process them on our place. We were intrigued by the fact that they skinned the chickens......complete with feathers.

We also had some Muslim customers who did a similar thing.

This afternoon, I had five (much smaller) cockerels to process. These birds were destined for the soup pot......or some other slow-cooking method so, where we would normally scald the carcasses, and then pluck them, I decided to skin them.

It was successful, but it took me just as long as it would to do them the conventional way......and I like to eat chicken skin, too.

Gary

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Hi Sydney,

Given the ease with which the feathers come out when the chickens are scalded properly, I probably wouldn't bother skinning them again. It takes me less time to get the feathers off than it does to skin the chicken and I end up with a better looking carcass.

Gary

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Surely this comes down to personal preference....Growing up, we would process 150 chickens at a time as a family.  We started out plucking.  After a few seasons doing this we switched to skinning.  It was faster for us, and we did not care about the chicken skin.  To this day I prefer to skin our chickens rather tan pluck.  Of course, if you enjoy the skin cooked on th bird, this is not the way to go.

 

- Converse

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Hi Converse,

 

Surely this comes down to personal preference....Growing up, we would process 150 chickens at a time as a family.  We started out plucking.  After a few seasons doing this we switched to skinning.  It was faster for us, and we did not care about the chicken skin.  To this day I prefer to skin our chickens rather tan pluck.  Of course, if you enjoy the skin cooked on th bird, this is not the way to go.

 

At the backyard level, personal preferences will certainly drive the processing method.  

 

One of my early enterprises was a restaurant supply business........so our processing methods developed in that environment and, even when slaughtering poultry and game birds for our own kitchen, we use the same equipment and practices.

 

We scald and pluck our birds for a number of reasons:

  • In our small plucking machine, we can process up to 6 chickens at a time - in the time that it would take to pull the skin from a single bird.
  • We eat chicken skin
  • Even where we don't eat it, it contains a high quality fat that is easy to recover.
  • The feathers are easier to compost without the skin attached - less odour, too.

If straight meat recovery is the goal, you don't even need to gut them.   Using a very sharp knife, a filleting glove and a wooden cutting board, I can turn chickens into legs, thighs, breasts, tenderloins, wings, necks and dog treats at a nice leisurely pace of one bird a minute. 

 

The only issue that I have with this approach is that it's wasteful.  The chicken frame, feet and gizzard should used to make an excellent stock and I love to eat chicken hearts and livers.  Even the guts are good for BSF production or composting.

 

Gary

Edited by GaryD (see edit history)

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Hi Sam,

 

We had a small broiler operation for 2 years and we plucked them using a plucking machine.  It was quick and easy. For Turkeys, not so much.

 

We used drum pluckers......two different sizes......the smaller one did quail, pigeons, poussins and broilers are the lower end of albs.   The bigger one did all chickens around 4lbs and up.......and everything else including ducks, Muscovies, turkeys and geese.

 

Gary

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Hi All, If we had a "chicken plucker" we'd probably use it instead of skinning. I've seen and heard enough about them and am impressed, but we have other finanacial priorities at this time. A chicken plucker is not on the list. Growing up our chicken plucker consisted of "all hands on deck"  after scalding the birds. Since now it is just me as the chicken plucker, I opt for skinning.  For health reasons, we do not need the skin in our diets in our household. Nothing is wasted though, all the matter from the chickens goes to other farming projects. 

     For those who have a plucker - you are a fortunate bunch!  Enjoy!

 

- Converse

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I've skinned chickens in the past by cutting off the head and the putting a blower nozzle from my air compressor into the neck hole, pinching it off with my hand and blowing the bird up like a balloon.  The skin mostly pulls off the bird and you just have to work with it a little at the knees and wings. I found it to be much faster than plucking, but there's a poultry processor close by that does them $1.50 per bird so I end up saving about 6 dollars an hour if I do them myself, not worth my time.

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The first time I saw that skinning technique was on a TV documentary featuring the production of the classic Peking Duck.  There was a difference with the Pekin Duck.....where you were removing the skin and feathers, loosening the skin on a Pekin Duck is about producing the classic crispy skin texture for which the Peking Duck is famous.

 

It's one of those kitchen skills......like watching Martin Yan bone a chicken in X seconds......or watching noodle production....that you can just sit and watch over and over.

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