I will not chicken out. Okay, I might.
Before me on a plastic table is a chicken -- throat slashed, naked of feathers, still warm. The eyes are closed and since the neck has been cut to drain the blood, rendering my chicken lifeless, the neck is floppy and attached by only a few tendons. My job now is to put my hand around its head and pull.
I grasp the head and yank. Nothing happens. I readjust my grip, apologizing to dead Chicken Little for covering his entire face with my sweaty hand, and pull with all my might. The tendon releases and I am holding a chicken head. I loosen my grip and look at the little head balanced in the cup of my hand. I expect to feel sick, but instead I feel pride. I drop the head into the bucket and set about working through the rest of the butchering process.
Read this week's full cover story The Butcher, the Baker: A Pastry Chef Picks Up a Cleaver in Learning the True Meaning of Farm-to-Table.