Step 2
Remove The Feet

With your dead, bled, scalded, and freshly plucked chicken in hand, I suggest the first thing you do is give it a good rinsing off, as shown in the following two pictures. This is where the makeshift sink with running water (discussed in Step 1) comes in real handy.

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As I am rinsing, I’m examining the carcass and rubbing, pulling, or scraping off any remaining pin feathers. If you had a proper scald and used a mechanical chicken plucker (i.e., a homemade Whizbang Plucker) you won’t have much in the way of pinfeathers to remove, especially with the Cornish-X meat birds.


I begin butchering a chicken by removing its feet.


Lay the bird on its back. Grasp a foot and apply downward tension while slicing into the joint, as shown in this picture.

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There is no need to cut here with a lot of force. You want to direct your knife blade between the joint and through the tendons. Just saw gently ahead and back with the sharp knife while bending back on the foot. You will find this is an easy thing to do. Here’s a couple more pictures.

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If your children are interested in seeing how the exposed tendons in the feet work, get a pair of pliers, grip on the exposed tendon ends in the foot, and give a pull. The toes will move. Very cool. Butchering chickens is educational, don’t you know? You can see the white tendon tips in this picture:

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I throw the feet away. But you can actually put them to good use. Save them for making chicken feet soup. Or, I understand that in South Africa, enterprising street vendors sell fried chicken feet and it is a very popular treat. You first.


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Click Here to go to Step 3: Remove The Head
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Click Here to read Herrick Kimball's other poultry-related essays.
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15 comments:

Derick said...

Great instructional blog -- makes me wish I lived in the country still. I lived in a village in rural South Africa & had fried chicken feet, which were surprisingly good. You should try one sometime.

Buster's Chickens said...

if you have any chinese or vietnamese restaurants around you, they will buy your chicken feet. promise. (them first. lol)

deconstructingVenus said...

I love this blog, it is very informative. the one thing i was most interested in, though, was actually killing/plucking the chicken. that is the part i am most nervous and unsure about. have you ever considered doing a step-by-step about that?

pjoandoyle said...

"Walkie Talkie" is a South African "delicacy" made from the heads and feet of chickens.

Lynn said...

I've never had fried chicken feet, but my grandmother used to make them and they were a favorite treat of my aunts and uncles. One uncle said they taste a lot like popcorn. This was in northern Oklahoma, by the way, not South Africa. lol

Don said...

You can make chicken stock from the feet. Chop them up, put them in simmering (not rolling boil) water for a day or so, then strain out the solids and use the broth fresh or frozen in any chicken broth recipe.

Christine said...

We're planning to raise chickens for the first time this year. Two of my children are from Haiti, and they are soooooooo excited about this because they cannot understand why American stores sell chicken without the feet?!?

They insist we'll be leaving them on and frying them up.

*shudder*

anneonvashon said...

Love all the info I'm finding on your sites! Just came across "I throw the legs away" re: butchering...yikes!! I live on an island in Washington State. I use them to make the best gelatin for stock by simmering them down. I've never used anything so amazing! And, my Latino friends favor the legs over all else! True, it grosses my kids out to find a pot of chicken legs on the stove...

Tiffonie said...

Loving your log. Awesome instruction and photos!!

As for the chicken feet, I probably would not eat them either, but dogs love them. Ive paid over a dollar a foot for them for my poochies a special treat.

Eric said...

We give the chicken feet to our dogs to eat. We only feed our dogs raw meat and bones. It is safe to give your dog bones and meat to eat as long as it is raw. When you cook bones they get hard and brittle and can hurt a dog. Even if you feed kibble, raw chicken feet are great for cleaning your dogs teeth naturaly.

Sweet Huckleberry said...

One of our hens started crowing the other day. No wonder we weren't getting any eggs from her! We're in an Urban Setting, so we needed a fast solution. We had no takers for a roo rescue.... so here we go with our first butcher! Thanks for the great entries....

Kelly said...

I'm an expat Floridian, living in Peru, and have started buying my chickens at the market to save a little money and get fresher product. They're already plucked and partially butchered - heads and feet removed - hence my coming to your page, to find out the best way of removing the rest of the innards. Although the feet are removed, they ALWAYS come with the chicken (as does the head). We always use them in soup - they make the best broth. You can pick them out if you like, but my kids love to suck the meat off them.

Karen B in northern Idaho said...

If you dunk the entire bird (including legs) in the scalding vat, the Whizbang plucker will also remove the icky dirty skin from the legs -- including the outer parts of the toenails. I have yet to build a scalding machine and just use a turkey frying pot on a large propane camp stove to scald with. I can dunk two birds at a time unless they are exceptionally large. My husband sands down a fresh 1x2 about 18" long every time I butcher, to keep stirring/dunking the carcasses in the hot water.

The feet make wonderfully flavored broth with a delicious mouth-feel due to the gelatin in the feet. The broth turns into thick gelatin when cooled!

carverpoultry said...

Very helpful :D

TtravisJjames said...

I am just over 26 and I have been a vegetarian for almost 26 years. I suggest you try some of the feet or will take them from you. The meat is creamy and has a lite bloodless lean flavor, but that was the only pare I had so far in my soup. I like them as much as the lags.