Step 5
Remove The Neck

Removing the chicken’s neck is relatively easy. Begin by grasping the neck with one hand and use your other hand to pull the skin around the neck down, as shown in this picture:

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What you are doing is getting access to the base of the neck, where you will make a cut. Here’s another picture:

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With the skin pulled down, and the base of the neck where it joins the back of the bird exposed, use your knife to slice into the meat of the neck. The cut is almost between the bird’s shoulder blades. The cutting objective is NOT to cut through the neck. Instead, you want to simply push the sharp blade into the meaty neck until you meet the resistance of bone. Here’s a picture:

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That done, make a similar pushing-cut into one side of the neck, then the other.

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It takes only a moment to make these three neck cuts, and they have served to significantly weaken the neck’s connection to the body. Now comes the fun part. Pick the bird up by the neck with one hand and twist the body around with your other hand. A couple turns and the neck will come right off.

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We save the necks and use them to make broth, which I explain how to do later in this tutorial. Put them in a stock pot with cold water in it and a lid on the top.

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There will be a lot of neck skin remaining on the bird. Leave it all there if you want. Or you can trim it down a bit as shown here….

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I would like to draw your attention to a couple of things in the above picture. First, you will notice my homemade Whizbang Garden Cart in the background. If you don’t have a Whizbang Garden Cart, you need to get one. It is, without a doubt, the single most useful tool on my homestead.


The other thing I’d like to mention is that you can see two gizzards on the sink to the right in the picture. I put those there because I was going to use them for a photo (that is coming up). They were not used for human consumption. If they were, I would never have put them there and left them. I would have put them in a pot of cold water with a lid.


Just because it's backyard processing doesn’t mean it has to be unsanitary. On the contrary, backyard processing can be very sanitary. I dare say it can be far more safe and sanitary than an industrial processing facility! Keep your birds clean (this is where the sink with running water comes in handy), process properly (as I’m telling you in this blog), cool the meat down in cold water immediately after butchering, and don’t leave any meat that you are going to eat out where flies can get to it. End of sermon.


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Click Here to go to Step 6: Remove The Oil Gland
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Click Here to read Herrick Kimball's other poultry-related essays.
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3 comments:

NW Doug said...

Thanks for the informative blog. I look forward to making your plucker.
I'd like to recommend poultry shears to your operation. While you can use shears for the whole butchering process, it especially comes in handy on the neck, neck skin and feet. Usually its "snip, snip, snip" with the last snip opening up the abdomen.
Its fast, and I have less nicks, cuts, knuckles missing skin, and non-chicken blood on my chickens!

Busterdbl said...

Thank goodness for your instructions. These days, "remove head and neck", has a completely different meaning in modern recipe books!

April said...

Just wanted to say "THANKS!". I live in the city, I bought a chicken at the grocery store, it's neck was still attached(!),I googled, you were #1 and "BAM there it is!". Could not have been clearer or easier!