As a recovering vegetarian, I am always learning all sorts of new meat related skills. Most people probably already know how to do this, but I had to look it up, so I figured there would be other meat newbies like me who could use the instructable.
I started buying whole chickens and dismantling them myself to save some money. The more slices a butcher does for you, the more money you pay. Not only do you get more meat for your buck, but you can use the valuable bones for making your own chicken stock. So here is how to take apart a whole chicken, neatly, in about 5 minutes.
I am doing two at a time here so don't be confused when you suddenly see 4 chicken wings. It's not a mutant chicken, they were just on sale!
- 1 very sharp chef's or boning knife
- Clean cutting board
- Bowl or ziplock bag for the meat
- 1 whole chicken
Separate the wings. Cut in half, and remove the tips.
Remove the legs by slicing between body and thigh, popping the hip bone, and removing it.
Separate thigh from drumstick by cutting cleanly through the middle joint.
Remove the breasts by slicing them off of breast bone.
Cut carcass in half and use for soup stock!
Step 1: The Wings
With the chicken breast side down, hold up the wing and make a slice just underneath it to reveal the joint. Slice cleanly through the joint. Repeat with the other wing.
If you're cooking the wing, you can remove the nubbin. There's very little to eat on it and they usually burn anyway. I set mine aside for making soup stock later.
If you'd like, separate the wing into 2 sections by cutting clean through the joint at the elbow.
Step 2: The Legs
To remove the legs, flip the chicken over so it's breast side up.
Pull the leg away from the body and slice through the skin between the body and both sides of the thigh.
Bend the whole leg firmly away from the body until you see the ball of the thigh bone pops from the hip socket. Cut between the ball and the socket to separate the leg.
Repeat with the other leg.
You can separate the thigh and drumstick by cutting firmly through the joint between the drumstick and the thigh.
Step 3: The Breast
There's a few ways to do the breast, but I like to keep from slicing through the bones as much as possible.
I bring my knife to the side of the beast, where you can see it connects with the breastbone.
Slice along the bone cleanly, following the shape of the breast. As you come to the middle, stop.
Bring your knife up over the breast, and slice along the middle to separate the breast.
This saves having to much around with cutting through the rib cage and connective tissues, but it does run the risk of leaving more meat on the bone. Repeat on the other side.
Step 4: The Rest
There, you now have a whole chicken separated neatly into wings, thighs, drumstick and breasts.
Now you have cleaned the meat from the bones, you also have a chicken carcass left over.
You can toss it in the garbage (sacrilege!), cut it in half and use it to make soup stock, freeze it for later, or voodoo up yourself an army of walking chicken skeletons.