How to Not Pluck a Chicken

Now here's something I wouldn't necessarily be doing as a couple if we were in New York: looking up videos on YouTube on how to respectfully and humanely kill a chicken... So that we can actually do it ourselves. Welcome to ranch life. Growing up in Texas, my parents would butcher a chicken in the backyard from time to time, so I wasn't completely unfamiliar with the process, however, I always preferred being a spectator rather than a participant in such activity. 

I can't really escape it now. We raise chickens on the ranch–some are meant to lay eggs and some are mean for, well, dinner. We do love our chickens, though. They don't live in a coop. They live in what we call the "chicken house", a stunning architectural structure that mirrors the big house. Their home is outfitted with fresh hay, numerous artworks, and a stone Buddha statue at the entrance. They also have Wi-Fi. (Just kidding about that last part.)

I was happy with the way things were going: He was doing the killing and the cleaning of the chicken, while I did the cooking of it. But, apparently, there were only so many times I could dodge the bullet. One day, I saw him walking up to the house holding a dead chicken by its feet, gesturing it at me. Too late for me to disappear.

"Honey, pluck this chicken while I go fix the roof, and I'll come back to do the rest," he ordered, handing it over to me. 

And that was that. He walked off, leaving me with my jaw dropped at the sight of a limp chicken's body dangling from my hand. I guess he wasn't kidding. I held it as far away from my body as possible and took a few deep breaths. Must. Embrace. New. Life.

I decided to approach this task like a real woman: as confidently as possible. You have to fake it until you make it, right? I placed it in the kitchen sink and put a large pot of water to boil. The lady in the YouTube video that we watched was some kind of pioneer woman who was taught how to kill and clean chickens by her grandmother. She said that the feathers come off easily after dunking the chicken into boiling water a few times and, in her demonstration, the downy white feathers stripped away from the skin as though her hands were a lint roller. 

I dunked it once for three seconds and pulled at one of the big wing feathers. Nope, not ready yet. I dunked it again for three seconds and checked again. Hm. Not looking good. I was having a terrible vision of yanking feathers off of its body with all of my might, which made me cringe. So, what did I do? I submerged the full chicken into the pot and started stirring it around in the boiling water by its feet until I thought, "OK, should be good now." 

It was only after I clipped its feet to the kitchen faucet and tried to pull out the feathers that I realized this was a bad idea. I had basically poached the chicken and now it was impossible to pluck the feathers out without ripping off the skin. A few dunks would've sufficed. Basically, by the time my strapping cowboy made it back to the house, I f*cked it up. 

The good news is that I was still able to produce a delicious homemade chicken soup from it.