My mother knew how to dress a chicken. I’m (happily) clueless about how to even approach dressing a bird. A hundred years ago, dressing a chicken was apparently considered such an important skill that a home economics textbook contained directions for how to do it. Times sure have changed!
In case you ever need to dress a chicken, here are the directions:
To Dress a Chicken
- Remove feathers by pulling them out, after plunging the fowl into boiling water and holding it there for a moment or two. Fowls are sometimes picked without scalding, if the work can be done immediately after they are killed.
- Singe the plucked fowl by holding it in a flame of gas or burning paper, being sure that all parts are exposed during the process so that all hairs are removed.
- Cut off the head, if it has not been removed. The neck may be removed by pushing back the skin and cutting it off.
- Remove the feet in cutting and breaking the legs at the joints.
- Make an incision one inch above the vent and crosswise between the legs. Draw out the intestines and other organs carefully, cutting away the vent. Remove from the mass the heart, liver and gizzard, being careful not to break the gall bladder which lies under the liver. Cut the gall bladder away carefully.
- Remove the skin from around the gizzard; open the gizzard and remove the inner skin and contents.
- Wash the liver, gizzard and heart, squeezing the latter to remove any blood. These organs are known as the “giblets.”
- The crop and windpipe may be removed at the neck. Do this without breaking the crop, or tearing the skin at the neck.
- Remove all pinfeathers with a sharp-pointed small knife. Remove the oil bag from the tail.
- Wash the chicken well in cold water, both inside and out. Dry with a cloth. The fowl is now ready to be used from baking.
- When a fowl is to be cut into pieces, as for stewing, it is usually convenient to remove the wings and legs before removing the intestines and other organs from the body.
Poultry should always be allowed to stand several hours after dressing before it is cooked.
Elementary Home Economics (1921) by Mary Lockwood Matthews