“There you are at the farmers’ market and there are cages of chickens … all types and colors. Which one do you choose?” wonders rworange. “Does it need to look feisty like a live crab in a fishmonger’s tank?” You’ll want to select a healthy, energetic chicken with bright feathers, says JungMann. “You can ask the supplier to help you choose a fat, healthy bird.” “Also check the color of the beak, earlobes, and comb,” suggests morwen. “As a chicken gets older, especially with layers, the color of these parts fade. They should be bright in a young chicken.”
So you select your chicken and the vendor puts it as is, breathing, in a paper bag. “Without being overly graphic,” asks rworange, “you bring your chicken home and what next?” Usually the supplier will take care of the dispatch and defeathering for you, says JungMann, but if you want to do it yourself, “be forewarned that this is a two-man job unless you have a traffic cone lying around to contain the bird, particularly if you choose to sever the trachea and carotid with a very sharp knife,” he says. Paulustrious thinks twisting the chicken’s neck to break it is the optimal manner of dispatching it. “For some it is a bit disconcerting, especially as the bird flaps after it is technically dead. However, it does make you realise what a chicken really is.”
“Plucking is messy,” advises AnnaEA. The chicken needs to be dipped in water that is at least 140 degrees Fahrenheit, but no more then 170 degrees Fahrenheit. “Too cool, the feathers won’t loosen, too hot and you can accidentally cook the skin, which makes it rip when you try to clean it.” And “after plucking and cleaning, it’s best to allow the chicken to rest in the fridge over night before cooking—this allows rigor to fully pass, and helps ensure you get tender meat,” she says.