How I butcher a turkey
*WARNING – GRAPHIC PHOTOS*
If you are sensitive or against animals being butchered DO NOT READ FURTHER. The purpose of this blog is to teach people how to butcher. If you are not interested then you shouldn’t be here.
You’ve been warned. Also, don’t waste your time writing how awful I am for killing an animal. I have respect for animals but also I eat meat. I prefer to eat the meat of animals that we raise. I know everything that went into them. Our animals are treated very well during their lives (they have plenty of grass to walk on, ample water, food and treats. We spend time with them ensuring their happiness.)
Ok now that that’s out of the way on to how I butcher a turkey.
Take the turkey and hang it upside down. Once you have the bird upside down they calm down. Then I grab its head and cut its neck. (I forgot to take a picture of where I cut the bird. I’ll add one next year when I go through this process again). I usually let it bleed out for 10 to 15 minutes.
(Turkey after it's been cut)
If you want the bird whole you're going to pluck it. You do this by dipping it quickly in hot water and pulling out the feathers.This can be a tedious task but worth it. If you have a plucking machine it makes it nicer.
First I lay the bird on the table with it's chest up. I use a skinning knife and cut it open from the legs to the neck.
I use my knife to remove the skin from the body.
Be careful around the crop area, as not to break the crop open and get feed everywhere.
Remove the skin from the legs
Once I've removed the skin from the front of the bird, I turn it over and using my skinning knife and cut from the tail to the neck (along the spine).
I continue to remove the skin off the back.
At the turkey's neck find the larynx, loosen it from the neck and pull it out (no need to cut it out...with a little effort it will pull right out). Next, carefully cut around the crop (careful not to puncture it) so it's no longer attached. Towards the bottom of the crop (where there's no signs of food) cut and remove the crop. Last cut around the neck (as close to the body cavity as you can) and then break the neck off to remove it.
Now it's time for gutting. I pinch right under the bottom of the breast and make a slice. Then I follow around the hip bones to open up the cavity (I remove less of this area when I keep the bird whole but for this purpose I cut it open wide). I cut the tail off.
Once the cavity is open reach in and you'll feel something hard. That's the gizzard. Grab a hold of that and pull. The gizzard, intestines, and liver will come out (I don't keep any of the internal organs but if you want to...more power to you). I then reach in and remove the heart. Reach in and pull out the lungs (you want to try to take your fingers underneath the lung, you'll feel the ribs and loosen it from the body.) Look inside and if there's anything left (the kidneys, the uterus (if it's female) remove them.
Wash your bird off. Cut it up. We remove the breasts from the bones. Our turkeys tend to be large so we'll cut up the breasts in 3 or 4 pieces and freeze them for later use. I'll also cut off the legs thighs and wings. . And you have your meat.
It's now up to you what you want to do with this meat. You can keep all the pieces for cooking (the back bone can be used for stock (I'll do a blog on making stock later) or you can take everything off the bone to grind it up for ground turkey (I'll also do a blog on grinding meat eventually). Whatever you do, enjoy!