Thursday, September 27, 2012

Chickenfest 2012 -- Part Deux!!

It's hard to believe that it's been nearly 8 months since the first Chickenfest of 2012, but the time is upon us once again to gather 'round the blazing bonfire to appease the Gods of Poultry by dismembering and ingesting many, many of our delicious feathered-friends!!  Click here to read onward!

As you may or may not be aware, the first Chickenfest was an unprecedented success!  Being our first go of it, Byrnes & I went in on only one case of ten (10) chickens that weighed in at 53 lbs, but cost us only $37.00!  Buying whole, frozen birds directly from Wolverine Meat Distributors at Eastern Market was the most economical way of buying chicken that we could possibly have done without having gone directly to a farmer for freshly-dispatched poultry.

The purpose of Chickenfest is to buy an enormous amount of whole birds to process into the various cuts of which it is comprised before seasoning and freezing for later use!  Doing so ensures that we get the most bang for our buck because buying in bulk from the wholesaler/distributor is always more economical than buying processed pieces by the pound at the local grocery store (of even Sam's Club!).

For Chickenfest 2012 X2 (read: "Part Deux"), we invite everyone to place an order for the number of whole birds that they'd like to process and pack away in their freezer for use over the coming weeks and months!  There are 10 birds in a case, which equates to roughly 50 lbs of poultry!  The going-rate for chicken fluctuates, but we will get the best price possible for buying in bulk from Wolverine!  So, place your order by contacting Byrnes or myself & we'll make sure your birds will be there waiting when you arrive!  Bring cash for your portion & an appetite for freshly-breaded chicken wings because we're gonna get down to the business of making sacrifices to the Gods of Deep Frying all day long!

"How the hell am I going to process all that chicken?!?", you may be wondering! Well, fear not!  The process is rather straight-forward and only requires a little practice to get it right, so we'll teach you how it's done!  Hell, I taught myself how just by watching "How it's Made" on how it's done in the biz, then adapting it to suit my needs!  Trust me, you'll get the hang of it and, if not, you can have them done for you -- for a price!

Now, this time, I'm getting two cases (approx. 100lbs!) for myself to keep!  I happen to have the real estate available in the freezerators, so why not, right?!?!  Byrnes and others intend to get at least a case for themselves as well.  We welcome all who attend to place an order for chickens of their own, either to donate to feeding the BFC Night Crew or keeping for oneself!  Please let us know as soon as possible how much you want!

Here's the breakdown:  10 chickens yields:   20 breasts, 20 tenderloins, 20 drummies, 20 thighs, 40 wings, and 10 carcasses for stock!!

Here are the pics of the first Chickenfest 2012!!! 

Clean a food-grade vessel large enough to hold all of your birds!

Once you're sure they are going to fit, take them all out,
then re-wash your container (do it!), then make your brine!
I used 1/2 gallon of apple cider vinegar, 1 lb of brown sugar, a generous handful of salt, 
then topped it off with ice cubes and cold water and sent it to bed for the night!

It's bright and early in the AM and both me & my chickens are happy campers!



Now in slow-mo!!


The funnel-on-a-broomstick method allows the bird to move freely
as you cut the various pieces off!

Remove the wings first!

Whole wing...

Split wing!
This separates the "drumette" from the whole wing...

...which then allows you to cut the wing tip from the "wingette"!
The wingettes and drumettes both go into the same container of buttermilk to soak
while you process the rest.   The wing tips get chucked in the bucket for carcasses!

Wingless chicken!

Now let's make it legless!

If you do it right, the knife shouldn't meet much resistance
when slicing between the bones in the leg joint.

Now is that pro-grade or what?!?

Only thing left to do is separate the drummy from the thigh!

Again, the knife should find its own way through!
Slice halfway in from the top...

...then wrap the leg around the blade and finish it off!

Bingo, bango! Nicely separated chicken pieces!

Now, go do the other leg the same way!

Yank the skin off and you're left with a wingless, legless bird!

A little fancy blade-wielding and you'll have a butterflied chicken breast in no time!

Good luck finding butterflied chicken breasts at the market!
If you do, you'll pay at least double what normal ones go for, 
so consider this one of the fortunate benefits of cutting one's own damn meat!

Now all that is left are the tenderloins!
These are fragile, so pull them off gently with your fingers! 

Once you've separated the tenderloins,
they can be cut free from the rib cage!

That's it!  Now all you are left with is the carcass!
Throw it in the bucket to make into stock and get working on the next chicken!

Before you know it, you'll be all done!

One vessel for each cut (type) of meat!!

I was making all of this into deep fried chicken, so
I put all of the drummies and thighs into one container!
These later got soaked in buttermilk before being breaded,
just like the wings had been done earlier!

Butterflied breasts and tenderloins go into another pot!

Carcasses need a giant pot so you can make a TON of stock!

I decided to keep one chicken whole, instead choosing to
"spatchcock", then grill it as they do at Ya-Ya's Chicken!

Coupla studly corn-fed Michigan boys!

Big Bad Brad!

Byrnes & D-troit, doin' it to it as per usge!

Byrnes GSDin' it!

I like to save the wishbones from whole birds
in hopes that someday I'll have some amazing woman
worth making wishes with! :)

I prefer my thighs skinless, others don't.  You do what you want!

Skinless thighs tend to need just a little trimming of fat before breading!

Byrnzie decided to yank the skins off of the drumettes that had been soaking in buttermilk!

The wingettes don't necessarily need the skin removed!

However, sometimes the skin is a little "much",
so in the interest of good health, we removed it.

Back to soaking in buttermilk!

"Hey! Where's my beer?!"

Get the stock going on the stove already!!

The stock is just hitting a simmer with some of the skin saved from earlier...

...while I finish up the final round of trimming on the butterflied breasts!

For added flavor, I tend to pan fry the carcasses w/ my Chickeny Seasoning blend
before I throw it into the stock! 

You could skip this step...

...but all of those sexy bits of "fond" that form when frying the chicken
will go a long way toward making your stock incredible!

Ten Chickens @ 53lbs gross weight
yielded 3/4lb of tendloins...

...which will now be seasoned and frozen for later use!

You did remember to put your garlic in the roaster oven, right?

Good! Now wrap it up in cheesecloth!

...then toss it in the stock pot!

Now, all you have to do is add the rest of your seasonings
and let the love happen!

Bagged & tagged, ready to season, then freeze!
Lube 'em up with vegetable oil, then add whichever seasonings float your boat!

Woo-hoo!!  The spatchcocked bird is nearly finished!

Spatchcocking a bird is a method by which any bird can be flattened
to allow for more even cooking, especially when
you use hot bricks (shown above) to apply heat to both sides at once!

Have you ever seen wings so fresh and sexy?!?!

Fry Master Byrnes in action!

Look at him go!!!

Nerp! This batch needs to go to me for quality assurance testing!

Holy shit this Ya-Ya's style chicken is the awesome!!!!

Get a load of this load of fried drummies and thighs!!!!
KFC doesn't have shit on me!!!

Here we are, we two comrades, beat and chilly from a long, hard day of processing
chicken out in the balmy weather that is February in Michigan!
What a blast we had that day!  We can't wait to do it again!
So, are you in for Chickenfest 2012 Part Deux, or what?!?
Send me an email to let me know!  Steve (at)!

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