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How to Cut up a Chicken

 
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brighidsdaughter



Joined: 02 Oct 2004
Posts: 233
Location: Canton, TX USA

PostPosted: Mon Jan 03, 2005 9:39 pm    Post subject: How to Cut up a Chicken Reply with quote

Charlotte asked about this one. I thought I'd start a new thread on it, apart from the "resolutions" thread.

It takes far longer to describe than to cut up a chicken. Best way to learn is to have a cooking teacher or someone who's very proficient at it give you a bit of hands-on instruction.

But this being the internet, a picture is worth a thousand words, so here are 2 websites I found, with commentary:

http://gourmetsleuth.com/cutupchicken.htm

I cut the wings a bit more closely, with as little breast meat attached as possible. In pic 4, the person appears to have the cutting edge of the knife traveling *toward* his/her other hand holding the rest of the carcass. Shocked Good way to cut yourself. Raw chickens are slippery and good at harboring bacteria. A cut can get very infected, very fast, even with proper first aid. Don't ask me how I know this.

http://www.courier-journal.com/features/2004/08/11/gallery_cutchicken/01.html

This shows a slightly different "order of operations", and is the way I learned to cut up a chicken. It's a series of well-done, large pictures with minimal verbal instruction. Oh, and knife use technique is more safe Smile

As with any new skill, proficiency comes through practice. Whole chickens are inexpensive. It's often possible to buy an entire *box* of small (usually about 2.5lbs ea) chickens for a reasonable price. Sit down at the table with your box of chickens, a *sharp* knife, a sharpening stone & go at it. Sharpen your knife frequently. Freeze according to preferred parts in portions appropriate for your family, or have a chicken-grilling marathon the following day.

Don't touch Erin's knives when you're doing this. Very Happy I don't know what will happen, but *something* will. She's warned you!
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Erin



Joined: 18 Oct 2004
Posts: 1654
Location: Within view of Elliot Bay, The Olympics and every ship in the Sound

PostPosted: Mon Jan 03, 2005 9:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Great idea posting this.

My husband recently has been allowed to use my knives, he finally took the oath. Seriously. When I was first bought my knives a friend came over to help cook dinner, I caught him twirling the tip on my cutting board. I was beyond words. Luckily instead of butterflying him I gave him an old cheapie and said it was a better size for the job.

My friends tease me when I carry my set around with me. Apparently I look like "The Professional", Jean Reno.
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Charlotte



Joined: 02 Jan 2005
Posts: 15
Location: Berkeley, CA, US

PostPosted: Tue Jan 04, 2005 3:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thank you for the links! I will try them out soon. I know some people who would love having chicken dinner Very Happy .

I think part of my problem is that I am "spatchcocking" the chicken, in other words, cutting the back out. Which as you will note, comes late in the process. I think this would be easier if the legs were already seperated. Sometimes one leg has a different set of bones with it because of where I cut the back.

I can cut the wings* off, no problem, as it is easy to find that joint. The back is a lot messier!

I don't remember this being as much of a problem when I ate chicken before, but maybe I was either roasting whole or buying parts. I only buy free range chix now so buying parts is not always an option (or, if available, is expensive enough that it offends my "careful shopper" sensibilities). Anyway, I like having the extra bits so I can freeze them and make stock out of them later (and, of course, feed the liver to the cat for a treat).

* the wings go with the back, neck, and gizzards in the freezer.
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brighidsdaughter



Joined: 02 Oct 2004
Posts: 233
Location: Canton, TX USA

PostPosted: Wed Jan 05, 2005 10:28 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Cutting the back out isn't necessarily a problematic technique. It's ideal if you want to grill whole chickens. Cut out the backbone with poultry shears and toss it in the freezer. Pop the joints, and whack the keelbone with a meat mallet. Use the mallet to flaten the chicken a bit more if necessary for average thickness. Marinate & grill.
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Charlotte



Joined: 02 Jan 2005
Posts: 15
Location: Berkeley, CA, US

PostPosted: Wed Jan 05, 2005 4:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I use my Cutco "cuts through everything" scissors. I have to wonder if another pair of snips might be better. It feels like a hack job.

Should I start from the neck or back end??
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Erin



Joined: 18 Oct 2004
Posts: 1654
Location: Within view of Elliot Bay, The Olympics and every ship in the Sound

PostPosted: Wed Jan 05, 2005 6:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have a pair of Henkles shears that are wonderful!
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"It's hot ham water."
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brighidsdaughter



Joined: 02 Oct 2004
Posts: 233
Location: Canton, TX USA

PostPosted: Wed Jan 05, 2005 10:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Charlotte asked:
Should I start from the neck or back end??

Try it both ways. See which works best for you. There are no chicken-cutting police to come knocking at your door, after all!

In some ethnic restaurants where I've eaten, chicken was hacked, bone and all, into large chunks that were barely identifiable as anything other than "fowl".
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cucina testa rossa



Joined: 04 Jan 2005
Posts: 9
Location: San Francisco & Paris

PostPosted: Wed Jan 05, 2005 11:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I had the pleasure of studying and working with Jacques Pépin and as far as I'm concerned, he is the ultimate authority on anything culinary. On his website he has step by step instructions WITH pictures on how to carve a roast chicken [http://www.jacquespepin.net/members/techniques/howtocarveachicken.html] and how to cut up a whole chicken [http://www.jacquespepin.net/members/techniques/howtobonechicken.html]. This is exactly how he and all the other chefs teach it at the French Culinary Institute. Also, his book, Jacques Pépin’s Complete Techniques [http://www.jacquespepin.net/books/jacquestechiques.html] is one of my culinary bibles and explains, step by step and with pictures, basically everything... He is adamant about the basic techniques and rightly so. If you ever have the chance to see him completely de-bone a chicken while keep it in one piece, don't miss him as it is amazing! We all sat there stunned. If you live in NYC, you can attend a free demo by Jacques at the FCI [http://www.frenchculinary.com] when he is in town. Happy Cutting...
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Charlotte



Joined: 02 Jan 2005
Posts: 15
Location: Berkeley, CA, US

PostPosted: Sun Jan 09, 2005 12:51 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

As the person who sort of started this off, I feel obligated to post a progress report. Two smallish chickens jumped in my basket at Trader Joe's the other day. The remark about Jacques Pepin (Mr. Technique) made me look up my Amazon wish list entry for "Complete Techniques". One of the reviewers mentioned James Peterson's "Essentials of Cooking". Peterson was given props for his chicken cutting pix.

I got out my hitherto unused copy of the Peterson book and got cracking on the birds.

The second bird was more successful IMO as I kept all the back bones with the back. I'm still not sure where the "oyster" is, though.

I think I might try to adapt this for butterflying the chicken - cut off the wings, find and pop the thigh joints, break the ribs, then cut out the back.

I can tell this is one of those "practice practice practice" thing, but at least I have an idea on how to deal with one of the things that was bothering me (the way I was snipping, I often left one of the back bones attached to at least one of the thighs).

Charlotte (whose friends are gonna be eating a lot of chicken)
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cucina testa rossa



Joined: 04 Jan 2005
Posts: 9
Location: San Francisco & Paris

PostPosted: Sun Jan 09, 2005 1:20 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

charlotte - the "oyster" was the bane of my existence in cooking school as if we missed it, we were downgraded. it is a little round area at the top of the leg where it meets the back. it is definitely a practice, practice, practice thing... we'd cut them up for hours and the poor chickens still looked like freddie kruger got a hold of them, if that makes you feel any better. next time i'm home in SF, i'll let you know and i'll show you where that damn "oyster" is... laura ps: i LOVE all of James Peterson's books, esp Sauces & Glorious French Foods...but that;s another forum...
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brighidsdaughter



Joined: 02 Oct 2004
Posts: 233
Location: Canton, TX USA

PostPosted: Sun Jan 09, 2005 3:36 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Charlotte, thanks for giving us a progress report!

For a truly unorthodox method of learning where the "oyster" is -- Take a whole chicken and cut the skin away from the back and upper thighs, exposing the meat. You will see 2 smallish, oval shaped of meat on either side of the backbone. They are about the size of the bowl of a regular spoon. Tasty little morsels they are, too, especially on a whole roast chicken. Cook's privilege to eat, I think.

HTH!
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SWISS_CHEF



Joined: 06 Jan 2005
Posts: 27
Location: Switzerland

PostPosted: Sun Jan 09, 2005 9:53 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I cut the breasts into 3 pieces. First cut off the tip end of the breast about 1/3rd of the way back then split the remaining piece in half. This works very well on large chickens because the breasts are too huge to just cut in half. I call it the "Kentucky-Fried-Cut" because that's the way KFC does it.
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Charlotte



Joined: 02 Jan 2005
Posts: 15
Location: Berkeley, CA, US

PostPosted: Mon Jan 10, 2005 12:05 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

brighidsdaughter wrote:
Charlotte, thanks for giving us a progress report!

For a truly unorthodox method of learning where the "oyster" is -- Take a whole chicken and cut the skin away from the back and upper thighs, exposing the meat. You will see 2 smallish, oval shaped of meat on either side of the backbone. They are about the size of the bowl of a regular spoon. Tasty little morsels they are, too, especially on a whole roast chicken. Cook's privilege to eat, I think.

HTH!


Are they inside the body cavity if you leave the chicken whole and cook it?
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brighidsdaughter



Joined: 02 Oct 2004
Posts: 233
Location: Canton, TX USA

PostPosted: Tue Jan 11, 2005 8:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

No, the oysters are outside of the body cavity, and rest on either side of the mid-lower part of the backbone.
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