In this recipe post, I’m going to show you how to break down a whole chicken. Both raw and cooked. This is an extremely valuable kitchen skill to learn. Once you know how to do it, it can help you save money and eat much better quality meat as a result. Now, breaking a chicken down into its prime components is not as difficult as you might think. All it requires is a little bit of knowledge, a sharp knife and some practice. I have often heard people saying they feel a little squeamish when touching raw meat and if that sounds like you, don’t worry. I will be breaking down a whole roast chicken too. Here’s how to break down a whole chicken, raw and cooked.
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Breaking Down a Raw Chicken
Cut the loose skin between the leg and the chicken breast to reveal the leg joint.
Bend the leg back until the bone pops right out of the joint.
Turn the chicken over and using a sharp knife, cut through to separate the leg.
Repeat the same steps with the second leg.
You will notice a natural seam on the leg. Use this as a guide to separate the drumstick from the thigh.
The knife should cut straight through the joint. Don't worry if you hit the bone, just wiggle the knife around until you find the cartilage and it should glide straight through.
Repeat with the second leg.
Remove any excess skin and feel for the wishbone on the back end of the chicken. Make a small incision to reveal the bone and then you can remove it with your hands.
Next, feel along the top of the chicken for the breast bone.
Cut to one side of the breast bone, gradually working your way along the rib cage with the knife until the chicken breast is fully removed.
Repeat on the other side following the same technique to remove the second chicken breast.
To remove the wing, carefully cut through the joint that attaches the wing to the body. The knife will slice straight through.
Chop up the carcass bones using a strong, heavy knife such as a cleaver and save them for chicken stock. They will last in the fridge for up to three days or in the freezer for up to three months.
Breaking Down a Cooked Chicken
The roast chicken follows many of the same steps as the raw chicken. Begin, by cutting the loose skin between the leg and the chicken breast.
Carefully bend the leg back to reveal bone and cut straight through the joint. Repeat with the other leg.
Next, remove the wings by cutting straight through the joint.
Feel for the breast bone and make a cut to each side. Gradually work the knife along the rib cage until the chicken breast comes off in one piece. It's worth noting that you can also remove the wishbone before taking off the breast. I left it in for this example.
Repeat the same process until both chicken breasts are removed.
Next, pick any remaining meat from the bones so you don't waste anything. You can use this meat for pies, soups and sandwiches etc. Chop up the bones and use them to make chicken stock.