The deconstruction of a whole chicken. This can be a daunting task for some so I figured I would show you how its done. When I am finished you will have thighs & legs, breasts and wings with the carcass left over for stock. This is cost effective and very easy to do and you will have more usable ingredients for your pantry.
I suggest finding a locally grown organic free-range chicken if possible. This may cost you a little more then just purchasing a whole chicken from your big box grocer but the flavor is going to be well worth it, plus you will know that the chicken was feed more of its natural diet then a whole bunch of hormones that will yes end up in your body. I sourced my chicken from Spring Prairie Meats in Hawley, MN. PH: (218) 498-2766. Unfortunately they do not have a website that I can find.
- Sharp Knife (boning knife is what I used)
- Honing steel
- Cutting board
- Food wrap
- Ziploc Freezer Bags
- Latex gloves (optional)
- Gather your tools and make sure your chicken is thawed
- Wash your chicken with cold water and pat dry with paper towels.
I start from the outside and work my way in. If you prefer to start with the breast and work out to the legs it wont make a difference its all about what you are comfortable with. Slice the skin between the leg and the breast and follow along the body until you get to the joint. when you reach the joint you will need to dislocate the thigh from the rest of the carcass. To dislocate the joint fold the thigh back until you hear it pop out of the socket. Once the joint has been dislocated you can cut through the tendons and finish removing the leg & thigh. Repeat this same method for the other side resulting in 2 leg & thigh sections.
Getting at the breasts are just little more tricky (as any guy will know). I start with the neck cavity facing me and slice right down the middle to separate the two breast sections. Foll0w as closely as you can along the breast plate to ensure that you get the most breast meat for each side. Work your way around the wish bone and other small sections of bone. The breast should come off in one piece with the skin attached. Follow the same method for the other side, with result being 2 breasts.
The wings are a bonus in my book. I love hot wings of all flavors and there is nothing better then using wings from a whole chicken instead of those miniature wings that you get from the wing restaurants. If this doesn’t interest you then move onto the next step and miss out on some of the guilty pleasures of breaking down a whole chicken. Just like the leg & thigh you will need to dislocate the wing from the body to get through the joint area. Use the same method to dislocate the joint and slice through the tendons. I usually toss the wings into there own freezer bag until i have enough collected to make wings for a snack or party. I will add recipes of hot wing sauces after I collect enough wings to make a batch. I dont think that I can write the recipe with out actually being able to eat them. It would be some form of sick food torture.
Not all chickens are going to come with this little present. Most will and its an added bonus if they do. I will take the giblets and boil them right away just for my own little snack or you can us them in recipes for stuffing and the like. I reserve the neck with the carcass for stock or soup bases.
The whole purpose of this process is so that you have the carcass to use for stock or soup recipes. The flavor of homemade stock is undeniable better then any bullion you can buy. You can also control the flavor and the amount of sodium in the finished product.
Stock recipes are many and varying depending on regions and ethnic styles of food you are preparing. i will continue to update the recipes for stock as i make them.
I hope that this blog entry has been helpful and has increased your comfort level with breaking down a whole chicken into usable parts. This is skill that any home cook should have. It will increase the health benefits of your stocks along with making you more comfortable with the slicing of a whole chicken or turkey at those special gatherings.