Photo: Jeff Coulson
As consumers, we’re quite used to buying separate pieces of chicken from the grocery store, and we pay for it, as the cost of separated pieces is generally more per kilo than a whole bird. But with a little practice, a sharp knife and a few simple steps, you can take back a skill of the past. The bonus? You can stretch your hard-earned food dollars by making up to three meals per family with one whole bird and you’ll have a backbone, or trimmings, to make most delicious chicken stock ever in your slow cooker.
How to Bone a Chicken Breast
Save money by removing the skin and bones of chicken breasts yourself (plus you’ll have bones to save for the stockpot!).
• For 1 lb (500 g) boneless skinless chicken breasts, buy 3 medium breasts with skin and bones.
• If breast halves are attached, cut apart at breastbone using poultry shears, sturdy kitchen scissors or chef’s knife.
• Use your favourite sturdy, sharp-tipped, thin-bladed knife, such as a paring, utility, chef’s or boning knife.
• Place breast, bone side down, on cutting board. Make shallow cut along ridge of breastbone between meat and bone.
• Holding knife flat against bone and using short strokes, cut between meat and bone to within about 1/4 inch (5 mm) of other edge, lifting meat away with fingers.
• Open breast out flat; cut meat neatly away from edge of bone. Remove any wishbone. Discard bones or reserve for chicken stock.
How to cut up a whole chicken
• Place chicken, breast side down, on cutting board. Trim off and discard any visible fat at cavity and neck.
• Starting at body cavity, cut as closely as possible along both sides of backbone. Cut off wing tips. Reserve backbone and wing tips to make chicken stock.
• Turn chicken over; open up slightly and cut in half through middle of breastbone.
• Lay chicken halves, skin side up, on board. Lift one leg at a time and cut along contour through skin and meat to separate leg from body.
• Bend back thigh and drumstick until joint pops. Cut through skin and meat at joint.
• Divide each breast in half, leaving wing attached to one half.
• Trim off excess skin and fat from chicken pieces; discard any shards of bone.
How to carve roast chicken
Carving is a practical skill that will beautifully show off the chicken you have roasted. Make sure the serving platter is well warmed and the gravy or sauce that goes alongside is piping hot.
Large Roasting Chicken
1. Place chicken, breast side up, on cutting board. Point legs right if you are right-handed, left if you are left-handed. Remove skewers or string.
2. Gently pull leg away from body while cutting through joint that holds leg to body. Place leg, meaty side up, on cutting board and cut through joint to separate drumstick from thigh. Repeat with second leg. Arrange legs on heated platter and cover to keep warm.
3. Gently pull wing away from body while cutting through joint holding it to body. Repeat with other wing and add to platter.
4. Steady bird by inserting long pronged fork into ridge at top of breast. With sharp knife, cut slices parallel to side of chicken. Start about halfway up side in order to divide up the succulent skin equally. Overlap slices attractively on platter. Repeat with other side.
1. Place chicken on cutting board and steady with long-pronged fork.
2. Using poultry or kitchen shears or sharp knife, cut chicken into quarters – two breast portions and two leg portions. For more than four portions, cut each leg at joint to make drumstick and thigh pieces and through breast to make four portions of white meat.