So we did a roast chicken last week and yes I know, many of you were probably like… SNOOZVILLE. A roast chicken isn’t the most exciting thing I’ve ever cooked either. But it’s a great start to using that whole bird we’ve been talking about and can be a beautiful and impressive way to entertain guests. It’s so stinkin’ EASY, right?
But another way to take that whole bird is to cut it up into pieces and cook it that way. You can roast it in the oven, or throw it on the grill and BBQ that bad boy. Hell, you could even FRY it. (omgyummy) Either way, you’re going to have gorgeously cooked chicken and enough to use for The Leftovers.
But how to cut up a chicken?
First of all, arm yourself with a sharp knife. I used a flaying knife, one with a long, slightly curved edge, but honestly? Just use something that’s screaming sharp. Most of our knives are so dull I could gnaw through the chicken faster, so I made sure to get that sharpener out and really get an edge on that baby.
Now once you have your super sharp knife in hand, put down a wooden cutting board and get out your big ol’ honkin raw chicken. Place the chicken, breast side up on the cutting board and prepare to CUT!
Now, see that drumstick on the left hand side of the chicken? Grab it and pull it out, extending the leg away from the body of the chicken. Run your blade through the skin to expose the inside of the chicken’s leg and the joint. Now if you bend it back far enough, the joint will pop free. If not, run your knife in between the joint and it should release.
Once you have released the joint, cut the rest of the leg off, as close as possible to the main body of the chicken. This will retain all of that yummy dark meat and keep it on the drumstick! If you want to make another cut, to separate the drumstick and the thigh, you will find it marked by a line of fat. Just cut and you will have two pieces. I personally like to keep the whole thing intact, to make sure that the meat stays juicy and moist when I cook it.
Now once both legs of the chicken have been removed, set them aside and start to work on the wings. Put the chicken on it’s side and pull the wing away from the body, like you did earlier with the legs. Once again, there is going to be a joint where the wing and the body join… cut through that skin and through the joint to separate the wing from the body. Repeat on the other side.
Ok, now comes the tricky part. Well, as tricky as the whole thing gets, which isn’t very…
Stand the chicken up and grab him from the tail. The breasts will be to the left side, the backbone to the right. Carefully, cut down the bird, removing the backbone. This is going to take a little elbow grease and be careful with your sharp knife… but once you have removed the backbone, it will look like this…
Do NOT throw out the backbone though… you will use that for The Carnage later. Just put it in a bag with the giblets and throw it in the freezer.
Once you have separated the front from the back, take a very sharp chefs knife and cut along the line above, the sternum. This will divide your chicken breasts into two equal pieces. If you want to cut them even further, cut those two pieces in half to make four. For my purpose though, I left the whole breast intact since I was going to roast and then slice it.
Hey look! That big chicken you started with?? It now in 6 smaller pieces! And could even be 10!
So now what do you do with all of these chicken pieces?
You could fry them, like Mommie Daze does…
You could season it with salt, pepper and olive oil, like I did above, and throw it in the oven at 400 degrees for 15-20 minutes (until the skin browns up), then lower the temperature to 350 degrees and cook until the thickest piece (the breast) registers 165. Mine took about 15-20 minutes more.
Or you could BBQ the chicken as well! Just slather them up with BBQ sauce and throw those babies on the grill, cooking until everything is up to temperature and drowning them in more sauce as you cook. Super Duper Easy.
Once cooked and cooled, eat the breasts as is with sides, or slice them up for either a Chicken Caesar Salad or a Spinach and Tortellini Salad. Reserve the rest of the chicken though for The Leftovers, which we will tackle next week!
Congratulations, you just carved and cooked another WHOLE chicken!!