Step 3
Remove The Head

With the feet removed, I turn my attention to the opposite end of the bird. The head must now be removed.

Joel Salatin, author of the book, Pasture Poultry Profits, removes chicken heads by pulling them off. I’ve done that. My kids have done that. Even my wife, The Lovely Marlene, has pulled a chicken’s head off its body. I recommend that you give it a try too. But it’s okay to use a knife.

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Slice into the neck just under the head. There are bones in the neck and you will meet with some resistance, but it is not too much for a sharp knife.

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Most of the time, I just cut into the meaty section of the neck, That weakens the connection. Then I’ll pull it off.

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Besides disconnecting the head from the neck, there are a couple of tubes going into the head that you need to sever. In the picture above, I am cutting through the esophagus (which is where the food goes down) and trachea (which takes air to the lungs)to finish the job.

As far as I know, there are no culinary uses for a chicken’s head. It goes in the gut bucket.

However, like the feet, chicken heads do have some educational and entertainment value. When they were younger, my boys had a lot of fun with chicken heads. Then we threw them in the bucket.

Click Here to go to Step 4: Loosen (or Remove) The Crop
Click Here to read Herrick Kimball's other poultry-related essays.


klblack said...

When I have made my cut through the back of the neck, I pull on the head and tear through the skin all the way around the neck. Now the head is attached by the esophagus and trachea to the body, and I can loosen and remove the crop fairly easily by sliding my finger down the neck alongside the esophagus to the crop, hooking it, and pulling it away from its attachment to the skin. The crop then comes away with the head.

If the crop is full, I'll cut down the skin on the back of the neck and peel it away from the crop. Either way, I wind up with an attractive breast that can easily be stuffed if my customers want to do that.

Herrick Kimball said...

Hi Karen,

Thanks for the feedback. I've read your comment a few times and think I follow it. I will try it next time I harvest my birds.

SzélsőFa said...

There's no culinary use to a chicken head???
My head have just exploded.

The head is E.D.I.B.L.E., man.

Well, most of it are bones but still!

Just put it into the chicken soup. It takes a bit of time to cook a head, but it's worth it.
The tounge and especially the comb are very delicious treats.
Our kids ofthen fight as which of them gets to eat the comb.

eleventh hour said...

Chicken head soup? My friends barely survived dinner of homemade goat mozzarella pizza and homemade grape juice. I'm thinking chicken head soup wouldn't go over!

Momofthesouth said...

I agree with "eleventh hour" about the chicken head! I mean, I love that in some areas still and back in the day people found a use for EVERYTHING, nothing went to waste. However, my personal opinion is, nutritionally and economically, I don't NEED to eat a chicken LOL!

I'm finding your blogs very interesting and informative! Thanks for sharing your wonderful knowledge and insight!

bzhuo said...

You said "As far as I know, there are no culinary uses for a chicken’s head. It goes in the gut bucket."

Excuse me but this is the typical western view, which I find very disturbing. Throughout much of the world they eat the entire chicken. For example the Chinese. The feet and the head are considered a delicacy. So please be open to learn a little more rather than consider the it to be for the "gut bucket".


b sanami

Vivian said...

I am reading this post to figure out how to finish butchering the half-butchered chicken I bought at my local market. I am an American living in China and the bird I just brought home has head and feet intact. I haven't looked inside the cavity yet to see if there are any other surprises waiting there. One of my favorite restaurants serves a roasted chicken, and the head and feet are cooked along with the rest of the bird and are indeed highly regarded for flavor. Not by me, mind you, heads and feet are not my thing. At my butcher, the skinless, boneless chicken breast is, quite literally, the cheapest cut of chicken. Feet and wings cost significantly more.

bucketgirl said...

We re-scald and peel the feet (squeeze the toenails and they pop off like socks). The feet and heads go with the necks, etc. go into stock. Granted, this stock is cooked by the chef among us who cooks it for several days with the feet/heads at the bottom where you can't see them.

But it is amazing stock, and no actual eating of feet/heads required to gain the benefits.

gooley said...

Larousse Gastronomique, at least in the first edition in English, has recipes for the combs, so at least some Westerners have a tradition of eating part of the head. Seems not enough meat to make a fuss over.

Charity said...

The farm where I purchased my first meat chicken also provided the head. He said to boil it and make broth from it,that the comb, beak and eyes are nutritious. I took it, being willing to try it, but in the end my family was too grossed out and we didn't. In the future, we will leave the heads with the farmer for his family to enjoy.

Leslie Lim said...

I read your blog.I thought it was great.. Hope you have a great day. God bless.


Willem Botha said...

In South Africa the heads are also eaten by some people, together with the feet. It goes by the name "walkie-talkies," isn't that great?!

While we're on the subject, sheep's head is called "a smiley." Man, I love this country :)

Denis Vlasov said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tamara Gez said...

Oh, how I like dishes from the chickens! Especially I like fried chickens! My wife and I are going to breed chickens that is why we bought some galvanized pails here for our farm. We have experience because my grandmother had a big chicken farm.

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