How To Break Down A Chicken
It turns out people don’t like to buy whole chickens, most believing that it is too difficult to break down. When in reality, breaking down a whole chicken is actually quite straight forward.
Buying a whole chicken and cutting it into portions is not only easier than you might think, it will also; save you money, give you bones to use for stocks and sauces and make you feel like a butchery boss when it is all over.
First and foremost before you start breaking down a chicken make sure to get yourself a good, sharp boning knife, there is nothing more difficult than trying to break down a chicken with a dull, blunt knife.
It doesn’t have to be super expensive, it just has to be good quality and easy to keep sharp. If you are just staring out and want an affordable, good quality knife; I would recommend the Victorinox Boning Knife.
It’s the perfect place to start before you start investing the mega-bucks into your knife set. To get the most out of your knife: hone it on a steel before, during, and after use, to keep it razor sharp.
— Al Brady
Prepare the chicken by cutting off the feet and wing tips from the bird and removing the wishbone.
Place the chicken on it’s back so that the breasts are facing up. Using your knife cut the skin between the thigh and the body. You don’t want to cut the meat here; the idea is to slit the skin so that you can open out the leg without pulling the skin off the rest of the chicken.
Grab the leg firmly, with your fingers underneath the thigh bone. Pull the leg away from the body and push the thigh bone up until it pops out of the socket.
Flip the chicken over so it is breast side down and using your knife, carefully cut through the joint to remove the leg, making sure to cut underneath the “oyster” of the chicken. This is a little chicken gem found on either side of the bird’s backbone, and it’s delicious so try not to leave it behind. Repeat this process to remove the other leg.
Turn the chicken over so the breasts are facing up. Pull the wing away from the body and run your knife along the elbow joint. The wing should come off easily. Repeat this step for the other side.
To remove the breasts; first run your finger along the centre of the breast, you will feel a line of collagen separating the two breasts. Run your knife along either side of this collagen, keeping the knife as close to it as possible, and peel the breast back, sliding your knife underneath it and along the body cavity as you go, keeping the knife as close to the bone as possible. Continue with long smooth strokes of your knife until the breast is free. Locate the joint where the wing meets the body cavity and cut through it to release the breast. Repeat this on the other side. If when cutting through any joints you come up against any major resistance you will probably just need to reposition your knife. When breaking down the chicken you should never have to force your knife through bone.
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Then suddenly it’s all over and you have a perfectly jointed chicken! It may seem a little tricky at first but with a little practice this process won’t take more than a few minutes.
Once you’ve mastered how to break down a chicken, you can turn your butchery talents to all kinds of poultry and game birds.
Make sure to never throw away the carcass one you’ve finished breaking down your chicken. It’s excellent for making stocks, sauces and soups. If you feel like one carcass is not worth the hassle, just bag them up and stick them in the freezer until you have enough to make a big batch.