Around town in Ann Arbor lately, there's been big talk of "reskilling". There's this group called Transition Ann Arbor whose stated goal is to "build resilience". And by this they mean to teach people things they should already know how to do, but never learned. One thing I keep hearing about is that people are interested in learning how to butcher their own animals. There's a class offered by a local farm that charges folks $30 each to let people help them butcher their chickens. Once again, my country living inlaws would be scratching their heads at this trend...they think we Ann Arbor folks are a real hoot. Wait til I tell them that people are paying money to learn how to butcher animals! This will be a great Thanksgiving table discussion. The last time they laughed that hard at me was when the PETA people protested at the buck pole in downtown Dexter. That being said, I don't know how to butcher a chicken, nor do I see a need to learn, given that I don't own any. My brother in law raised chickens for years and my neices and nephews would think nothing of grabbing a chicken and cutting it's head off. But I really should learn how to cut up a whole chicken.
Many years ago, I was inspired by Cook's Illustrated to try to do it myself, and it wasn't pretty. I bought some Wusthof poultry shears, and my one and only attempt was a mess and left me squeamish. I really didn't like all the popping of bones out of joints as described in the process. Last year, I took a class at Williams Sonoma and the guy teaching it promised to show us all how easy it was, and then he proceeded to have a difficult time doing it. He didn't seem very confident in his skills.
Why learn how to cut up a chicken? Buying whole chickens is a great way to save money. Plus, I try to buy local chicken when it's affordable, and it just doesn't come on a styrofoam tray and in boneless skinless form. I need some "reskilling". My mom used to cut up all the chicken we ever ate. It was an easy task for her, but then again, when she was a kid, she probably butchered them too in her Appalachian homestead. And she probably did it with a kerosene lamp and no running water, either. They didn't have electricity or indoor plumbing. Not sure if she remembers how anymore either. I'll ask her.
Meanwhile, I found this video on the web and I am going to give it a shot today. This gal sounds like she knows what she is talking about. And there is no excessive pounding and popping. It can be done with a knife - but I can dust off those poultry shears and use them, too. Stay tuned and I'll let you know how it turns out.