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March 3, 2020

Butchering Chickens: A Guide to Humane, Small-Scale Processing by Adam Danforth ~ Review & Recipe

by Donna Huber

"A chicken in every pot" was touted during the late 1920s as the aspiration for Sunday dinners across the United States. American meant production has come a long way since this statement was made. Today, Americans eat a lot of chicken - more than any other species of livestock, and by a long shot. (In fact, it almost averages out to a whole chicken in every Sunday pot across the country!) Because of increased awareness of how meat is produced, astute modern poultry consumers often ask questions like "Where was that chicken raised?" and "What was that chicken fed?" and "How was that chicken killed?" You can easily answer these questions for yourself when you raise your own animals. (p. 9)

Amazon affiliate links are used on this site. A free book was provided for an honest review.

March 2020; Storey Publishing; 978-1635861655
ebook, print (176 pages); animal husbandry
I read enough post-apocalyptic fiction to know that skills like how to slaughter a chicken will be a valuable commodity when meat stops magically appearing in grocery stores. Butchering Chickens goes behind the slaughter which makes it useful even to people who don't have their own chickens. But if you do have chickens or are thinking of getting chickens, this guide will be very helpful in giving you the knowledge you will need to get the most out of your flock.

Chapters include:

  • Gathering tools and equipment
  • Setting up for food safety
  • Preparing for slaughter
  • Slaughtering
  • Butchering
  • Packaging & Freezing

There is also a bibliography, resources, glossary, and index. This relatively short (176 pages) book is chocked full of information.

There are diagrams and full-color photos, but don't worry none are graphic. They are helpful in illustrating the text.

If you are like me and don't have chickens and are just buying your chicken in the grocery store, this book is still useful. Buying a whole chicken is often cheaper than already cut up pieces, especially if you are wanting boneless and skinless. Knowing how to properly cut up, skin, and debone a chicken will help stretch your food budget. If you are buying directly from a local farmer, then a whole chicken may be the only way it is offered. Even skipping the two chapters about slaughtering, you will find the chapters about knives, butchering, and packaging & freezing well worth having this book.

I definitely recommend this book if you are thinking of starting your own backyard flock. Even if you plan to only have layers, you will have to decide what to do once the hen grows too old to produce eggs, and of course, there's always the roosters to contend with.

I like that the author recommends making slaughtering a community effort. I'm a part of a community of women homesteaders who share not only knowledge and a helping hand, but also often have equipment that they are willing to loan or rent. If after reading Butchering Chickens you decide you want to try your hand at slaughtering but feel you lack the community Danforth suggests, you can see if there is a local chapter of the Ladies Homestead Gathering near you or check with your local Farm Bureau and Extension Agent to connect with local small-scale farmers.

Buy Butchering Chickens at Amazon

Recipe: Chicken Nacho Soup

A whole roasted chicken is usually too much for just me (after 4 or 5 meals I'm ready for something else) so I usually freeze the leftover chicken for soup or chicken salad. As it has been a cold, wet winter this soup has become a favorite of mine.

1 TBSP olive oil
1 medium white onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 TBSP ground cumin
1 TBSP chili powders
2 cups cooked, shredded chicken
15 oz can diced tomatoes
1 1/2 cups cooked black beans (15 oz can)
1 1/2 cups corn kernels
4 cups chicken broth
3/4 cups heavy cream
2 cups shredded cheese (I use colby jack, but you could do half pepper jack and half cheddar)

Notes: For a spicier soup, substitute the tomatoes for a 10 oz can of Rotel). If you use canned black beans, be sure to drain otherwise your soup will have a greyish tint.

In a large dutch oven heat olive oil. Add onion and garlic and saute until the onion is tender and slightly translucent. Add cumin and chili powders, stir the mixture for about 1 minute.
Add the rest of the ingredients except for the cream and cheese. Simmer for at least 15 minutes. Add cream and cheese and simmer for a few more minutes until cheese is melted.
Serve with tortilla chips, sour cream, chopped tomatoes, cilantro, and/or chopped green onions.

I've also made this recipe in the crockpot to have a hot meal waiting when I get home from work or if I don't already have cooked chicken. A large boneless, skinless chicken breast or 4 boneless, skinless chicken thighs should yield about 2 cups of shredded chicken. If using uncooked chicken - add chicken first so it is on the bottom and then add all other ingredients except for the cream and cheese. Cook on low heat for 4 - 4.5 hours. Remove chicken and shred using two forks. Put the chicken back in and stir in the cream and cheese until melted.

Donna Huber is an avid reader and natural encourager. She is the founder of Girl Who Reads and the author of how-to marketing book Secrets to a Successful Blog Tour.

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  1. No, I have seen too many chickens butchered! LOL

    Here's mine: “PRETTY AS A PICTURE”

  2. hahahaha -- I'm always trying to stockpile dystopian info. The soup sounds yummy.

  3. I don't want to read the book but that recipe sounds really good!

  4. I can see how this can be very useful,and although I couldn't 'butcher' myself, I would rather people read this and do it humanely! The recipe sounds great, too! Will have to try it - with a shop brought chicken though...

  5. at first i wanted to laugh, but then i useful for the zombie apocalypse. :-)
    sherry @ fundinmental

  6. No Way! My grandfather did this when I was a kiddo:(