Sunday, 1 August 2010

Butchery Masterclass: Perfect Poultry

I attended the above course about a week and a half ago now run by Tom of Loaf and Steve Rossiter of Rossiters Butchers in Birmingham. I wanted to go on the course because being able to butcher a chicken seems like such a great skill to have, not to mention a useful one.

First we watched Steve butcher a chicken - he made it look so easy. Steve has been a butcher for 35 years and Rossiters is the only certified organic butchers in Birmingham. All the chickens we used were organic and free range.

Then, it was our turn and 'butcher' the chicken we did.

 We worked in pairs for this and needed lots of help from Steve!

We also learnt how to spatchcock a poussin ("Is that legal?!" asked my fiancé when I mentioned this to him) and helped make, and got to take home, some yummy recipes. We were shown how to butterfly chicken breasts and used them to make Chorizo-Stuffed Chicken Breasts (using homemade chorizo). I took one that we had prepared home and cooked it the next day for my fiancé, who is now a big fan. Tom used the chicken legs to show us how to make Raz el Hanout Chicken, which was gorgeous, and the spatchcocked poussin was marinated in lemon and garlic and cooked on a grill pan. I haven't done so yet, but am looking forward to testing out my spatchcocking skills at home!

We also made chicken stock from the raw carcass - I have since used the same recipe at home twice and it has turned out wonderful each time. I don't know if it's because I was using a raw chicken carcass, but I've never had the fat form so perfectly on the top before of my stocks - it made it very easy to remove. I now have quite a lot of home made stock in the freezer, which is great.

I also had my first taste of chicken liver since I was at school. I wanted to like it, and while it wasn't horrible, I still can't get into that livery taste.

Learning the butchery skills was great and I am extremely glad I went on the course. Butchery seems to be one of those forgotten skills that we think we don't need anymore, but it is much more economical to buy a whole chicken and butcher it yourself than to buy the pieces individually. And having these kinds of skills makes me feel closer to where my food comes from, because it means I'm more involved in the basic preparation of it.

I have to admit though, that my favourite bit of the course was eating all the food we had helped to prepare.

We also got to taste some of Tom's homemade elderflower champagne - yummy!

I have since had a go at butchering a chicken at home, once I'd bought myself a boning knife. Here is the result:
I think I did quite well! It is thanks to Steve's patient and expert guidance that I was able to do so well on my own at home - that and a very sharp knife.

If you'd like to find out more about Tom's courses, please go to Thanks to Tom for the pictures from the course.


  1. Nice Looking Bird! Sounds like a great class, it is cool to take something from beginning to end like that. I am with you about the stock, nothing better than stock made from parts.

  2. These are the types of courses that I'd love to take...unfortunately I haven't found any in our area yet. :(
    Glad you had fun and learned a lifelong skill! :)

  3. Fantastic! Wow, I am impressed by your skills and wish I also could learn. It's not the kind of thing you can learn from a book, like most of the things I know about cooking.

  4. That is true about not being able to learn it from a book. The trick is learning where the joints are!