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How to Defeather a Chicken

Why a Kosher Chicken says Pluck, Pluck
Instead of Cluck, Cluck


Q: What is the easiest way to defeather chicken? Jennifer Pearlman 

A: There are several not so paltry facts about kosher poultry. The most important is, it tastes better.  That’s not just my opinion, but the opinion of an independent taste comparison conducted by America’s Test Kitchen.  This is great news for those who choose kosher chickens as they start with a drumstick up. The reason is simple. Kosher chicken is essentially brined from the kashering process.

A chicken isn’t born Jewish, it is made kosher by how it is handled. After it is slaughtered according to kosher guidelines, the bird is plunged into a cold bath, salted and soaked again. While this might be refreshing on a hot afternoon at a day spa, it has one obvious problem. Working with our spa metaphor, just as a good facial is preceded by a steaming, to open your pores, non kosher chickens take a warm water bath to open theirs. This makes for easy plucking and an efficient removal of the feathers. But, because kosher chickens go for a cold–water plunge, their pores remain closed and their feathers are harder to pluck. The result is a tastier, healthier kosher bird in dyer need of electrolysis.

This is where your kitchen tweezers come in very handy. You should invest in a pair to have on hand in your gadget drawer for plucking feathers and deboning fish. Your urge will be to place the chicken in warm water to make the plucking easier; I am begging not to do that.  First of all, the USDA strictly warns against rinsing a chicken after you bring it home. The fear is the bird will contaminate your sink and surroundings and the rinse you give it will do little to make the bird any cleaner. I agree with this edict for both practical and culinary reasons.  A dry bird yields a crisper skin and a tastier less water logged chicken.

Upon getting it home, I carefully unwrap my bird and dry it off with paper towels. I then get out my tweezers and I pluck. It takes just a matter of minutes to go from unsightly feathers to clean–shaven.  I then place my bird on a plate and put it in the fridge – uncovered.  The rest in the fridge gives the bird a chance to dry out.  Be careful it does not come in contact with anything else.  Take your bird out when you preheat your oven and prepare it according to your favorite recipe. The Kosher Carnivore has many great ones to choose from; arroz con pollo to a Moroccan version. But, nearly every week I make a perfectly roasted chicken sprinkled simply with Kosher salt and black pepper, garlic powder and Hungarian paprika for both color and flavor.  A good squeeze of lemon (then toss the lemon into the pan) and some unpeeled garlic cloves scattered in the pan complete the prep.  Add some chicken stock or water during the roasting process to help encourage a pan sauce. Roast your bird at 425 degrees for 1–1 1/4 hours.  Remove the bird from the oven and let it rest, make a gravy from the pan juices and serve.

Enjoy your feather free bird with its crispy skin and juicy meat and don’t forget to invest in a good pair of kitchen tweezers, they will become your chicken’s best friend.

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