Whole chicken

Breast

Wing pieces

Tenderloin

Thighs

Drumsticks

Breast

Breast

Whole

chicken

Tenderloin

Wing

pieces

Wing

pieces

Thighs

Drumsticks

Drumsticks

Breast

Breast

Whole

chicken

Tenderloin

Wing

pieces

Wing

pieces

Thighs

Drumsticks

Drumsticks

If saving money and expanding your cooking options trump convenience in your kitchen, it will be worth your time to master the art of breaking down a whole chicken. With a little practice, the task can be done in under 3 minutes, which will yield the makings of several meals and augment your roast-bird carving skills as well. Here’s how:

Front

Leg

Wing

Back

Cutting board

Knife

Front

Leg

Wing

Back

Cutting board

Knife

Front

Leg

Wing

Back

Cutting board

Knife

 To start, you will need a cutting board and a flexible sharp knife. Place the chicken on its back.

Begin with the wings

1. Find and cut next to the joint between the drumette and flat part, also called the wingette.

Drumette

Cut

Flat part

(also called

wingette)

Drumette

Cut

Flat part

(also called

wingette)

Drumette

Cut

Flat part

(also called

wingette)

2. Cut next to the joint that connects the wingette to the wing tip.

Wingette

Wing tip

Wingette

Wing tip

Wingette

Wing tip

3. Repeat with the other side.

Wingettes

Wing tips

Wingettes

Wing tips

Wingettes

Wing tips

Dark meat (thighs and drumsticks)

4. Pull the leg quarter away from the body and slice through the skin between the two.

Pull

Leg quarter

(thigh and

drumstick)

Pull

Leg quarter (thigh and drumstick)

Pull

Leg quarter (thigh and drumstick)

5. Flip the chicken onto its side, pulling the leg quarter back to pop its joint. Using small cuts, gradually separate the leg quarter from the body, including the “oyster.”

Back view

Side

Flip

Oysters

Leg quarter

Back view

Flip

Side

Oysters

Leg quarter

Back view

Flip

Side

Oysters

Leg quarter

6. Align the knife along the seam of fat between the drumstick and thigh to find and cut next to the joint.

Thigh

Drumstick

Thigh

Drumstick

Thigh

Drumstick

7. Repeat with the other side.

Drumsticks

Thighs

Drumsticks

Thighs

Drumsticks

Thighs

White meat (breasts and tenderloins)

8. Align the knife on one side of the sternum (breastbone). Make short cuts, staying as close to the bone as possible.

Sternum

Sternum

Sternum

9. Pull the breast half away from the body as you work your way down, making small cuts, until the breast is removed.

Breast half

Pull

Breast half

Pull

Breast half

Pull

10. Place the breast section on the cutting board skin side down and remove the wing drumette.

Drumette

Breast

half

Drumette

Breast half

Drumette

Breast half

11. Pull back the long flap of meat to cut off the tenderloin.

12. Repeat with the other side.

Tenderloins

Drumettes

Breasts

Drumettes

Breasts

Tenderloins

Drumettes

Breasts

Tenderloins

Nothing to waste

Once you have all your different pieces of meat cut off the chicken, the remaining parts can be used to make soup or stock. If your whole chicken also came with giblets (liver, heart, neck and gizzard), they can be used for gravy or in other recipes.

About this story

The steps above were based on the process used by Brian Patterson, chef-instructor at L'Academie de Cuisine in Gaithersburg.

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