culinary 101: how to butcher a chicken

welcome back to culinary 101 - where every week, i'm bringing a lesson straight from culinary school to you.

guys, guys, guys. today we're gonna break apart a chicken. i'm really excited about this - i won't lie to you - chicken butchery and fabrication are actually my favorite activities in the kitchen. there's just something so visceral and satisfying about knowing you can do this for yourself, that you have some sort of true survival skill (let's ignore the killing and evisceration part, shall we?) . 

so, today i'm going to show you the basic method of breaking down a chicken. here, we'll end up with two boneless breasts, two thighs, two drumsticks, and two wings. 

don't be afraid to touch the chicken with your bare hands - as long as you wash them fully before cooking (or really touching anything) you'll be fine. you'll also notice that here i've laid down parchment paper over my table to help with easy cleanup. 

1. extend the wing and cut around the globe that pops out  at the wing joint. extend to see the cartilage between . cut through the cartilage (never through the bone!). repeat. set wings aside. 

i like to pull the wing out so far it actually lifts the chicken up on its' side. let gravity help you. 

2. extend the legs. cut through the skin at the inner hip joint, exposing the muscle beneath. bend the thigh back until the thigh bone pops out of socket. hold the chicken up by the leg and cut as close as possible to the carcass, going over and around the thighbone.

the skin on a chicken is incredibly loose, so cutting at that inner joint will help you to see the meat underneath. don't be afraid to be rough with the joint when disarticulating that bone, you'll need to get it out in order to cut. 

to separate the thigh from the drumstick, cut about 1/4 inch above the fat line (where the white part begins). 

3. slice down the center of the breast along the keelbone. using your boning knife, make long, even strokes down against the breastbone. the meat should peel away as you do this. repeat on the other side.

i like to try to get the breast off in three even strokes. long strokes are best - your finished product will look the cleanest. 

and there you have it! two breasts, two drumsticks, two wings, two thighs. feeling industrious? save the bones and make stock from them! not planning to eat the entire chicken? throw it in some ziplock bags and freeze for several weeks. it'll stay for about 2-3 months in the freezer and about 3-4 days in the refrigerator. 

did you miss last week's culinary 101 installment? catch up here!

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