Buying a whole chicken and cutting it up for chicken pieces is the most economical way to enjoy chicken.
Chicken on the bone is so much tastier than boneless fillets! Learning how to cut up a whole chicken is a fantastic skill to learn.
There are many many different ways to cut up a chicken. The best thing about cutting up a whole chicken is that you can use everything! Keep all the leftovers so you can make Chicken Stock from scratch in the slowcooker!
First Things First..
Make sure you have a spotlessly clean board and a very very sharp knife. Wash your hands thoroughly. Make sure the chicken you are about to cut up is totally defrosted and dry – give it a quick wipe with some paper towels if it is wet (or your knife might slip!). It is important to keep chicken as cold as possible, so remove the chicken from the fridge immediately before you cut it up and return the pieces to the fridge if you aren’t going to use them straight away!
We will be cutting the chicken into eight pieces being two wings, two legs, two breasts (you can opt to cut this in half) and two thighs.
How to Cut Up the Chicken
First job is to remove the extremities, that being the wings and legs. To remove the wings, turn the chicken upside down. Pull one wing out from the body and cut through the shoulder joint. Pull on the joint gently and the knife should slide straight through. Then do the other wing exactly the same.
Turn the chicken back over breast side up – now it’s time to take off the legs. Gently hold the leg out slightly from the body and cut between the thigh and the body to the hip joint. Bend the leg back slightly to free the joint from the socket (this can sometimes take a bit of muscle). Then slice through the joint. This removes both the leg and part of the thigh.
To remove the thigh piece from the leg, look for the line of chicken fat and cut about one centimetre to the right of the fat, your knife should cut the joint in two easily.
Places both pieces on the clean plate and repeat on the other side. Remember that cutting up a chicken can be messy work at first – but practise makes perfect!
Now is the time to remove the chicken breasts. Grab the chicken at the front and hold on to the breasts, using your knife cut through the rib cage so that effectively the top of the chicken is cut off the bottom. Place the bottom of the chicken in a bag and place in the freezer for use later.
Feel the breast piece for the breast bone and run your knife to one side of the bone as close as possible. When you get to the hard shoulder blades at the top, just scoot your knife around it to take as much flesh as possible. Then repeat on the other side. If you wish to have skinless breasts – just use your hands to grab the skin and carefully peel off and discard.
If you turn the chicken breasts over – there is a piece of meat underneath that gently can come away from the breast piece, this is the chicken tenderloin, great on a barbecue with some Teriyaki sauce. Remove if you wish; it’s the best part of the chicken!
And there you have it, a great skill to have when whole chickens come on sale. Remember – I know I’ve said this lots of times but again.. – that practise makes perfect.
There are plenty of other ways to cut up a chicken but we find this is the easiest, most basic method.