Breaking down a whole chicken can seem daunting, but trust me -it’s not as labor-intensive as you think. (Just don’t skip down to see that there are 27 steps below!). On a serious note though, breaking down a whole chicken yourself is an art andcan savelot of money at the grocery store. You can normally buy a whole chicken for less thanseven dollars, and you’ll get a lot more bang for your buck.
To get started, you’llneed the following:
1.) Chef Knife
2.) Large cutting board (Be surenot to use a wood cutting board)
3.) Chicken Shears
4.) Any whole chicken (roaster, broiler or firer). Be sure to remove your chicken from the package and empty any contents from the inside of the chicken before starting.
* Be sure to wash your hands and keep your work area clean!*
2.) Use yourchicken shears tocut the backbone out, starting just to the right of the tailbone (The spot we located in the previous step).
3.) Taking your time, continue cutting along the side of the backbone. You’llreach a point when you will be unable to open the scissors enough to continue cutting the bone out. At this point, stop cutting on this side and move on to the next step.
4.) Continuing work on the backbone, cutit out startingjust left of the tailbone.
5.) Just like step 3continue cutting along the side of the backbone. You’ll againreach thatpoint when you can’topen the scissors enough to continue cutting the bone out, sostop cuttingand move on to the next step.
6.) To completethe backbone work,flip the chicken overso the breast meat side is laying on the cutting board. This willallow you to easily finish cutting out the tailbone. Use your chicken shearsto cut out the tailbone on both sides.
Once you have completely cut out the tailbone, discard it.Your chicken should look like the one below:
7.) You’llnotice some extra skin on the chicken that comes off the thighs. Useyour chicken shears to cut off any extra skin that you may find.
7.) With the chicken still laying flat on the cutting board, locate the center of the chicken (it doesn’t have to be exact). Next, use yourchicken shears to cut the chicken in half.
8.)Take your time and very carefullycontinue cutting the chicken until you’reall the way through and the chicken is cutinto two pieces.
9.) Select one half of the chicken and flip it over so the breast meat is pointing up. Place the other half to the side.You will notice some extra skin on the chicken that comes off the neck area. Useyour chicken shears to cut off any extra skin that you may find.
10.) Now, we’regoing to work on removing the legs from the chicken half. Pull the leg back and, using your chef knife, start to slowly cut the skin in the open area where the thigh and breast meet.
11.) Continue to cut the skin until the leg is able to lay on the cutting board skin side down (The opposite way than it started).
12.) With the leg laying on the cutting board skin side down, start to lightly cut in the area wherethe leg meets the breast. The goal is tolocate the hip joint (You may also use your hand to locate this area before you cut).
In the picture below you can see what the joint looks after makinga few cuts to expose it.
13.) Once you’velocated the joint, very carefully place the tip of your chef knife in the joint. Be sure to not use too much pressure as you don’t want to lose control of the knife and accidentally cut yourself.
14.) Once you have your knife in the joint, slowly start to cut the joint until the bone comes out of the socket. Most of the time the bone comes out very easily without much effort. Once thebone comes out, continue to cut the leg off and place it off to the side.
15.) With the legremoved, you’llnotice the hip joint is attached to the chicken breast – we will need to remove this. Using your chef knife cut the hip bone off the chicken breast and discard it.
16.) Now it’s time towill remove the leg from the thigh. Useyour chef knife to slowly cutin the area where you think the thigh and leg meet (This doesn’t have to be exact, just make your best guess).
17.) Continue to cut until you reach bone, but do not cut through the bone.
18.) Use your fingers to try and locate the jointwhere the thigh and hip bone connect (Pictured below).
19.) Very carefully place the tip of your chef knife in the joint. Once again, be sure to not use too much pressure as you don’t want to lose control of the knife and accidentally cut yourself.
20.) Slowly start to cut the joint until the bone comes out of the socket. Most of the time the bone comes out very easily without much effort. When the bone comes out of the joint continue to separate the leg and the thigh.
You should now have a separate leg and thigh. You can place these off to the side as we are done with them.
21.) We will now work onthe chicken breast that we separated the leg from. This step is optional but I like to remove all the wings from my chicken breast. If you like you can skip steps 21 through 26.
Pull the wing away from the breast so that it is fully extended.
22.) With the wing fully extended start cutting in the area where the joint meets the breast. This is a bit tricky since the joint is sunken in.
23.) Once the joint is exposed,slowly start to cut the joint until the bone comes out of the socket. When the bone comes out of the joint continue to cut the wing off.
24.)When the bone comes out of the joint continue to cut the wing off.
When the wing separates from the breast you can place the chicken breast off to the side, as we are done with it.
25.) This part is optional but I like to cut the wing tips off. To cut the wing tips off, simply find the spot where the tip attaches to the wing and use your chef knife to cut it off (this bone is very weak and you should be able to cut through it very easily).
26.) To break the wing into two pieces, we will follow the same steps as removing other parts that have a joint. Slowly start to cut the joint until the bone comes out of the socket. When the bone comes out of the socket continue to cut the wing into two pieces.
27.) Now repeat steps 9 through 26 to break down the other half of the chicken. Once you’vefinished you should have 6 to 10 pieces of chicken (6 with leaving the wings on the breast and 10 if your broke down the wings).