Preparing a recipe calling for chicken pieces but all you have in the fridge or freezer is the whole chicken? No worries!
If you’ve never disassembled a whole chicken and need help, I’ve laid out the steps you need below so you can move along with your recipe in no time.
First things first, make sure you have a SHARP knife to work with, and a work surface that is washable. Poultry shears or kitchen shears will also be very beneficial when cutting some of the sections where you have to cut through bones. Cutting up a whole chicken can be difficult if you do not have the proper tools and do not use proper methods. These steps are here to make it fairly simple so you can do it all on your own next time around.
Remove Leg-Thigh Portion
With breast side up, place the chicken on the cutting board. Pull the leg away from the body and cut through the skin connecting the body and leg. Then cut down between the body and the thigh to the thigh joint.
Bend the leg-thigh portion back until the thighbone pops from the joint. Use the tip of the knife to cut through the joint area and then cut close to the backbone to detach the leg-thigh portion from the body. Repeat the same steps on the opposite side to detach the other thigh-leg portion.
Separate the leg and thigh by placing the leg-thigh portion skin side down on your cutting board. Following the yellow line of fat, locate the joint connecting the two and use a sharp knife to cut completely through the joint to separating the leg from the thigh. Repeat this process to separate the other leg-thigh portion.
Remove the Wings
Place the chicken on the cutting board breast side down. Pull the wing portion out away from the body and cut the joint between the wing and the breast to detach it from the body. A little of the breast meat can be cut off with the wing to produce a meatier wing, if desired. Repeat this process on the opposite side.
Remove the Backbone
Starting at the tail end, cut along one side of the backbone and continue cutting to the neck. Then cut along the other side of the backbone.
Cut through the collarbone to remove the backbone.
Poultry shears or kitchen shears may be helpful in making the cuts to remove the backbone. Discard the backbone or save it to make stock.
Cutting Breast in Half
Before cutting breasts in half remove the excess piece that is located on each side of the lower breast. Cut along the side of the breast, starting at the bottom and cut up along the bottom of the rib cage, leaving the ribs attached.
Begin by making a half inch slit at the top center of the keel bone (the bone separating the two halves).
Hold the breast in both hands, skin side down with the top of the breast towards you. Bend both sides back until the keel bone pops out where the incision was made. Bend the sides back to expose as much of the keel as possible.
Place the breast back on the cutting board and loosen the keel bone by running a thumb or finger along each side of the bone.
Take hold of the top of the keel bone and pull it off the breast.
Using a sharp knife or kitchen shears, cut down through the center of the breast to produce two halves.
Cut the halves into quarters by cutting across the breast halves at an angle just below the rib bones.
Cutting up a whole chicken following the instructions shown above will produce the pieces shown here.
Whether the breast quarter is cut in half or in three equal sections will be your own personal preference. Factors that may affect your decision are the size of the chicken and the number of servings you would like to produce. If the chicken is smaller, cutting the breast quarter in thirds may make the pieces too small. If the chicken is larger, cutting the breast quarter in half may make the servings too large, especially if serving children. Before cutting, consider the number of servings needed, appetites of those being served, and the amount of other food being served with the chicken.
© 2012, Dee @ Bella Savvy. All rights reserved.