Cutting Up Chicken

Cutting Up a Whole Chicken

Cutting Method #1 - 10 Pieces | Cutting Method #2 - 10 or 12 Pieces

A whole chicken can be cooked whole but if you want to fry it or use it for a recipe calling for pieces, the whole chicken will have to be cut up first. You will need to make sure you have a sharp knife to work with and a work surface that is washable. A poultry shears or kitchen shears will also be very beneficial when cutting some of the sections where you have to cut through the bones. Cutting up a whole chicken can be difficult if you do not have the proper tools and do not use proper methods.

Experience using different techniques will help you determine which methods work best for you and will eventually make this task easier. There are several methods that can be used and different methods can produce different number of pieces when completed. Cutting method #1 shown below can be used to produce 10 pieces and cutting method #2 can be used to produce 10 or 12 pieces.

Cutting Method #1 - 10 Pieces

Removing Leg-Thigh Portion

With breast side up, place the chicken on the cutting board. Pull the leg away from the body and cut through the skin connecting the body and leg. Then cut down between the body and the thigh to the thigh joint.




Bend the leg-thigh portion back until the thighbone pops from the joint. Use the tip of the knife to cut through the joint area and then cut close to the backbone to detach the leg-thigh portion from the body. Repeat the same steps on the opposite side to detach the other thigh-leg portion.


Separate the leg and thigh by place the leg-thigh portion skin side down on the cutting board. Following the yellow line of fat, locate the joint connecting the two and use a sharp knife to cut completely through the joint to separating the leg from the thigh. Repeat this process to separate the other leg-thigh portion.



Removing the Wings

Place the chicken on the cutting board breast side down. Pull the wing portion out away from the body and cut the joint between the wing and the breast to detach it from the body. A little of the breast meat can be cut off with the wing to produce a meatier wing, if desired. Repeat this process on the opposite side.



Removing the Backbone


Starting at the tail end, cut along one side of the backbone and continue cutting to the neck. Then cut along the other side of the backbone.



Cut through the collarbone to remove the backbone.

A poultry shears or kitchen shears may be helpful in making the cuts to remove the backbone.

Discard the backbone or save to make stock.




Cutting Breast in Half

Before cutting breasts in half remove the excess piece that is locate on each side of the lower breast. Cut along the side of the breast, starting at the bottom and cut up along the bottom of the rib cage, leaving the ribs attached.



Begin by making a half inch slit at the top center of the keel bone (the bone separating the two halves).


Hold the breast in both hands, skin side down with the top of the breast towards you. Bend both sides back until the keel bone pops out where the incision was made. Bend the sides back to expose as much of the keel as possible.

Place the breast back on the cutting board and loosen the keel bone by running a thumb or finger along each side of the bone.

Take hold of the top of the keel bone and pull it off the breast.

Using a sharp knife or kitchen shears, cut down through the center of the breast to produce two halves.

Cut the halves into quarters by cutting across the breast halves at an angle just below the rib bones.
Cutting up a whole chicken following the instructions shown above will produce the ten pieces shown here.


Cutting Method #2 - 10 or 12 Pieces

  Removing the Backbone

Using a sharp knife or poultry shears start at the tail end of the chicken and cut along one side of the backbone. Repeat the procedure on the other side and remove the backbone.

Note: This task is accomplished with less effort when using a poultry shears.



 

Cut Chicken in Half


Place the chicken breast side down on the cutting board. Cut the chicken in half with a cleaver or sharp knife by cutting through the center of the keel bone on the inside of the breast.



 

After this cut is made you should have two equal halves.


 

Separating the Breast Quarter from the Leg Quarter

Place the chicken on the cutting board cut side down. Cut the breast portion from the leg portion along the natural dividing line. The separation should be visible but it may also be beneficial to feel the natural separation between the two with your fingers before you begin cutting.



 

Once the cut is made you will have a breast quarter and a leg quarter from each half of the chicken.


 

Separating the Leg Quarter



Place the leg quarter on the cutting board skin side down. Cut the drumstick from the thigh by cutting through the joint connecting the two.


 

Using a knife or a poultry shears, cut the thigh from the back section of the leg quarter to produce two pieces.



 

Cutting Breast Quarter - 10 Pieces


Using a cleaver or a poultry shears, cut the breast quarter crosswise in half to produce two equal sections.

 


  Cutting the breast quarter in half will produce 10 pieces of chicken when both halves have been cut.

 



Cutting Breast Quarter - 12 Pieces


Using a cleaver or a poultry shears, cut the breast quarter crosswise in three equal sections.


  Cutting the breast quarter in three equal sections will produce 12 pieces of chicken when both halves have been cut.

Whether the breast quarter is cut in half or in three equal sections will be your own personal preference. Factors that may affect your decision are the size of the chicken and the number of servings you would like to produce. If the chicken is smaller, cutting the breast quarter in thirds may make the pieces too small. If the chicken is larger, cutting the breast quarter in half may make the servings too large, especially if serving children. Before cutting, consider number of servings needed, appetites of those being served, and the amount of other food being served with the chicken.

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