There's nothing like successfully preparing your own chicken. It's one of those things that every home cook should know how to tackle. Whole chickens are great for roasting and an impressive looking dish to display on the table. There's also something for everyone-white meat or dark meat. However, sometimes when you're at the grocery store, you might be looking for cut up chicken rather than a whole chicken. Chicken pieces can be used in a number of delicious recipes like fried chicken or for slow cooking stews. Of course, it's convenient to politely ask the butcher to cut up a whole chicken for you for your next chicken recipe, but it might cost you a few extra dollars. Once you start practicing and following a few simple steps, butchering a whole chicken yourself will soon become second nature.
How to Cut Up a Whole Chicken
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Step 1: Kitchen Tools
First things first- you will need a sharp knife. A chef's knife or boning knife works best for this. Also, a clean sturdy cutting board that you use only for raw meat is preferred.
Step 2: Remove the Legs
Some folks start with the chicken wings, but it tends to be easier to butcher the rest of the whole chicken when you start with the chicken legs. With the chicken breast side up, find the area where the leg attaches to the chicken breast and carefully slice through the chicken skin. Using your hands, pop out the leg joint from the socket and slice the rest of the way with your knife. You will be left with the drumstick and chicken thigh still attached. Do this with both legs.
With the skin side down, feel where the joint is with your hands, take your knife and slice through the thigh bone allowing the knife to do most of the work. This is when a sharp knife comes in handy!
Step 3: Remove the Wings
Flip the chicken over and pull out the chicken wing with your hand. With your knife, slice through the wing joint. After you have both chicken wings removed, you'll want to cut the joint right at the wing tip to remove the wing tips. You can save these small pieces for chicken stock.
Step 4: Remove the Chicken Breasts
You should now be left with two chicken breasts. You're almost done! Take your knife and feel where the breastbone is, slice through and cut down into the wishbone. Keeping the knife close to the carcass, slice until you remove the entire chicken breast, making sure there's hardly any breast meat left on the carcass. Do this with the other chicken breast.
And that's all it takes! You should be left with 2 drumsticks, 2 chicken thighs, 2 chicken wings and 2 chicken breasts. If you thought breaking down a whole chicken was too difficult of a challenge, think again! After a few tries, you'll have it down pat.
If you're like me and you're more of a visual learner, check out the video above from one of my favorite celebrity chefs, Gordon Ramsay. Just keep this informative video on repeat and you'll find yourself butchering more and more whole chickens with no problem.