Butchering the Human Carcass for Human Consumption
by Bob Arson
back to Jeffrey Dahmer Correspondence
This is a step-by-step guide on how to break down the human body
from the full figure into serviceable choice cuts of meat. As in
any field, there are a number of methods to the practice, and you
may wish to view this as a set of suggestions rather than concrete
rules. You will notice that the carving of the larger or "commercial"
cuts down into smaller specific or "retail" cuts will be only mentioned
in passing, and not concentrated upon. Also, the use of human fat
and viscera is generally avoided, and left only to the most experimental
chef. These choices, along with recipes and serving suggestions,
are nearly infinite in variety, and we leave them to you. We've
found these guidelines to be simple and functional, but recognize
that there is always room for improvement and we welcome your suggestions.
Before getting to the main task, it must be mentioned that the complete
rendering of the human carcass requires a fairly large amount of
time, effort, and space. If the consumer does not wish to go through
the ordeal of processing and storing the bulk of the entire animal,
an easy alternative is as follows. Simply saw through one or both
legs at the points directly below the groin and a few inches above
the knee. Once skinned, these portions may then be cut into round
steaks of the carver's preferred thickness, cut into fillets, deboned
for a roast, etc. Meat for several meals is thus readily obtained
without the need for gutting and the complexities of preparing the
The human being (also referred to throughout culinary history as
"long pig" and "hairless goat" in the case of younger specimens)
is not generally thought of as a staple food source. Observing the
anatomy and skeleton, one can see that the animal is neither built
nor bred for its meat, and as such will not provide nearly as much
flesh as a pig or cow (for example, an average 1000 pound steer
breaks down to provide 432 pounds of saleable beef). The large central
pelvis and broad shoulder blades also interfere with achieving perfect
cuts. There are advantages to this however, especially due to the
fact that the typical specimen will weigh between 100-200 pounds,
easily manipulated by one person with sufficient leverage.
Here the caution in choosing your meal must be mentioned. It is
VERY IMPORTANT to remember that animals raised for slaughter are
kept in tightly controlled environments with their health and diet
carefully maintained. Humans are not. Thus not only is the meat
of each person of varying quality, but people are also subject to
an enormous range of diseases, infections, chemical imbalances,
and poisonous bad habits, all typically increasing with age. Also
as an animal ages, the meat loses its tenderness, becoming tough
and stringy. No farm animal is ever allowed to age for thirty years.
Six to thirteen months old is a more common slaughtering point.
You will obviously want a youthful but mature physically fit human
in apparently good health. A certain amount of fat is desirable
as "marbling" to add a juicy, flavorful quality to the meat. We
personally prefer firm caucasian females in their early twenties.
These are "ripe". But tastes vary, and it is a very large herd.
The butcher will need a fairly roomy space in which to work (an
interior location is suggested), and a large table for a butcher's
block. A central overhead support will need to be chosen or installed
ahead of time to hang the carcass from. Large tubs or barrels for
blood and waste trimmings should be convenient, and a water source
close by. Most of the work can be done with a few simple tools:
sharp, clean short and long bladed knives, a cleaver or hatchet,
and a hacksaw.
Body Preparation: Acquiring your subject is up to you. For best
results and health, freshness is imperative. A living human in captivity
is optimal, but not always available. When possible make sure the
animal has no food for 48 hours, but plenty of water. This fasting
helps flush the system, purging stored toxins and bodily wastes,
as well as making bleeding and cleaning easier. Under ideal conditions,
the specimen will then be stunned into insensitivity. Sharp unexpected
blows to the head are best, tranquilizers not being recommended
as they may taint the flavor of the meat. If this is not possible
without exciting the animal and causing a struggle (which will pump
a greater volume of blood and secretions such as adrenaline throughout
the body), a single bullet through the middle of the forehead or
back of the skull will suffice.
Hanging: Once the animal is unconscious or dead, it is ready to
be hoisted. Get the feet up first, then the hands, with the head
down. This is called the "Gein configuration". Simple loops of rope
may be tied around the hands and feet and then attached to a crossbar
or overhead beam. Or, by making a cut behind the Achilles tendon,
a meathook may be inserted into each ankle for hanging support.
The legs should be spread so that the feet are outside the shoulders,
with the arms roughly parallel to the legs. This provides access
to the pelvis, and keeps the arms out of the way in a ready position
for removal. It's easiest to work if the feet are slightly above
the level of the butcher's head.
Bleeding: Place a large open vessel beneath the animal's head.
With a long-bladed knife, start at one corner of the jaw and make
a deep "ear-to-ear" cut through the neck and larynx to the opposite
side. This will sever the internal and external carotid arteries,
the major blood vessels carrying blood from the heart to the head,
face, and brain. If the animal is not yet dead, this will kill it
quickly, and allow for the blood to drain in any case. After the
initial rush of blood, the stream should be controllable and can
be directed into a receptacle. Drainage can be assisted by massaging
the extremities down in the direction of the trunk, and by compressing
and releasing, "pumping", the stomach. A mature specimen will contain
almost six liters of blood. There is no use for this fluid, unless
some source is waiting to use it immediately for ritual purposes.
It acts as an emetic in most people if drunk, and it must be mentioned
here that because of the eternal possibility of AIDS it is recommended
that for safety's sake all blood should be considered to be contaminated
and disposed of in some fashion. It is not known whether an HlV-infected
human's flesh is dangerous even if cooked, but this is another item
to consider when choosing a specimen, someone in the low-risk strata.
Beheading: When the bleeding slows, preparation for decapitation
can be started. Continue the cut to the throat around the entire
neck, from the jawline to the back of the skull. Once muscle and
ligament have been sliced away, the head can be cleanly removed
by gripping it on either side and twisting it off, separation occurring
where the spinal cord meets the skull. This is indicative of the
method to be used for dividing other bones or joints, in that the
meat should generally be cut through first with a knife, and the
exposed bone then separated with a saw or cleaver. The merits of
keeping the skull as a trophy are debatable for two principal reasons.
First, a human skull may call suspicious attention to the new owner.
Secondly, thorough cleaning is difficult due to the large brain
mass, which is hard to remove without opening the skull. The brain
is not good to eat. Removing the tongue and eyes, skinning the head,
and placing it outside in a wire cage may be effective. The cage
allows small scavengers such as ants and maggots to cleanse the
flesh from the bones, while preventing it being carried off by larger
scavengers, such as dogs and children. After a sufficient period
of time, you may retrieve the skull and boil it in a dilute bleach
solution to sterilize it and wash away any remaining tissue.
Skinning: After removing the head, wash the rest of the body down.
Because there is no major market for human hides, particular care
in removing the skin in a single piece is not necessary, and makes
the task much easier. The skin is in fact a large organ, and by
flaying the carcass you not only expose the muscular configuration,
but also get rid of the hair and the tiny distasteful glands which
produce sweat and oil. A short-bladed knife should be used to avoid
slicing into muscle and viscera. The skin is composed of two layers,
an outer thinner one with a thicker tissue layer below it. When
skinning, first score the surface, cutting lightly to be sure of
depth and direction. The diagram of the skinning pattern is an example
of strip-style skinning, dividing the surface into portions easy
to handle. Reflect the skin by lifting up and peeling back with
one hand, while bringing the knife in as flat to the skin as possible
to cut away connective tissue. The external genitals present only
a small obstacle. In the male the penis and scrotum can be pulled
away from the body and severed, in the female the outer lips skinned
as the rest of the body. It is important to leave the anus untouched
at this point, and a circle of skin should be left around it. You
need not bother skinning the hands and feet, these portions not
being worth the effort unless you plan to pickle them or use them
in soup. The skin can be disposed of, or made into fried rinds.
Boil the strips and peel away the outer layer, then cut into smaller
pieces and deep-fat fry in boiling oil until puffy and crisp. Dust
with garlic salt, paprika and cayenne pepper.
Gutting: The next major step is complete evisceration of the carcass.
To begin, make a cut from the solar plexus, the point between the
breastbone and stomach, almost to the anus. Be very careful not
to cut into the intestines, as this will contaminate the surrounding
area with bacteria and possibly feces (if this does happen, cleanse
thoroughly). A good way to avoid this is to use the knife inside
the abdominal wall, blade facing toward you, and making cautious
progress. Make a cut around the anus, or "bung", and tie it off
with twine. This also prevents contamination, keeping the body from
voiding any material left in the bowel. With a saw, cut through
the pubic bone, or "aitch". The lower body is now completely open,
and you can begin to pull the organ masses (large and small intestines,
kidneys, liver, stomach) out and cut them away from the back wall
of the body. For the upper torso, first cut through the diaphragm
around the inner surface of the carcass. This is the muscular membrane
which divides the upper, or thoracic, and the lower abdominal cavities.
Remove the breastbone, cutting down to the point on each side where
it connects to the ribs, and then sawing through and detaching it
from the collar bone. Some prefer to cut straight through the middle,
depending on the ideas you have for cuts in the final stages. The
heart and lungs may be detached and the throat cut into to remove
the larynx and trachea. Once all of the inner organs have been removed,
trim away any blood vessels or remaining pieces of connective tissue
from the interior of the carcass, and wash out thoroughly.
Remove the Arms: Actual butchering of the carcass is now ready
to begin. Cut into the armpit straight to the shoulder, and remove
the arm bone, the humerus, from the collar bone and shoulder blade.
Chop the hand off an inch or so above the wrist. Most of the meat
here is between elbow and shoulder, as the muscle groups are larger
here and due to the fact that there are two bones in the forearm.
Another way of cutting this portion is to cut away the deltoid muscle
from the upper arm near the shoulder (but leaving it attached to
the trunk) before removing the limb. This decreases the percentage
of useable meat on the arm, but allows a larger shoulder strip when
excising the shoulder blade. Purely a matter of personal preference.
Cut into and break apart the joint of the elbow, and the two halves
of each arm are now ready for carving servings from. Human flesh
should always be properly cooked before eating.
Halving the Carcass: The main body is now ready to be split. Some
like to saw straight through the spine from buttocks to neck. This
leaves the muscle fiber encasing the vertebrae on the end of the
ribs. The meat here however is tightly wrapped about the bone, and
we find it more suitable (if used at all) when boiled for soup.
Thus, our preferred method is to completely remove the entire backbone
by cutting and then sawing down either side from the tailbone on
Quartering the Carcass: The halves may now be taken down, unless
your preparation table or butcher block is very short. This is inadequate,
and you will have to quarter while hanging, slicing through the
side at a point of your choosing between rib cage and pelvis. Now
is also the time to begin thinking about how you would like to serve
the flesh, as this will determine the style of cuts you are about
to make. These will also be greatly affected by the muscular configuration
(physical fitness) of your specimen. First, chop the feet off at
a point about three inches up from the ankle. The bones are very
thick where the leg connects to the foot. You will want to divide
the side of meat into two further principal portions: the ribs and
shoulder, and the half-pelvis and leg. In between is the "flank"
or belly, which may be used for fillets or steaks, if thick enough,
or even bacon strips if you wish to cut this thinly. Thin and wide
strips of flesh may also be rolled, and cooked to serve as a roast.
Trim away along the edge of the ribs, and then decide whether you
will cut steaks from the flank into the thighs and rump, and carve
Cutting the Top Quarter: Although not actually 25% of the meat
you will get, this is designated as one-fourth of the carcass as
divided into major portions. You may trim away the neck, or leave
it to be connected with the shoulder, or "chuck". The first major
step with this mass is to remove the shoulder blade and the collar
bone. The best and easiest way we have found is to just cut along
the outline of the shoulder blade, removing the meat on top and
then dislocating the large bone. To excise the collar bone make
an incision along its length and then cut and pry it away. Depending
upon the development of the breast, you may decide it qualifies
as a "brisket" and remove it before cutting the ribs. In the female
the breast is composed largely of glands and fatty tissue, and despite
its appetizing appearance is rather inedible. The ribs are the choice
cut of the quarter. An perennial favorite for barbecuing, you may
divide into sections of several ribs each and cook them as is, divide
the strip in half for shorter ribs, or even carve rib steaks if
the muscle mass is sufficient.
Cutting the Lower Quarter: This is where most of the meat is, humans
being upright animals. The muscle mass is largest in the legs and
rump. The bulk is so comparatively large here that you can do just
about anything with it. The main pieces are the buttock or rump
and the upper leg, the thigh. Our typical division is to cut the
leg off at the bottom of the buttock, then chop away the bony mass
of the knee, at places two to three inches away in either direction.
Before doing this, however, you may want to remove the whole calf
muscle from the back of the lower leg, as this is the best cut in
its area. The upper leg is now ready for anything, most especially
some beautiful, thick round steaks. The rump will have to be carved
from the pelvis in a rather triangular piece. The legs attach at
the hip at a forward point on the body, so there will be little
interference as you carve along the curve of the pelvis. Remaining
meat will be on the thighs in front of the pelvis.
And that's basically it. An average freezer provides plenty of
storage space, or you may even wish to build a simple old-fashioned
smokehouse (just like an outhouse, with a stone firepit instead
of a shitter). Offal and other waste trimmings can be disposed of
in a number of ways, burial, animal feed, and puree and flush being
just a few. Bones will dry and become brittle after being baked
an oven, and can be pulverized.