Sunday, December 4, 2011

Chicken Piece it yourself

Chicken - Piece it yourself

There are 14 pictures in this sequence, although not all will be posted. I took the first one at 3:29 PM, the last one at 3:33 PM and it would have taken less time if the flash didn't need to recharge. The tool picture isn't part of the 14.

We paid $0.49/lb for these whole chickens. No they aren't organic, factory born and bred, but it works just as well for the healthiest chicken in the world.

Back in 80 my girlfriend (now wife) wanted to do some meal with chicken pieces, so she started to buy a cut up one. I pointed out the difference in price and that I could show her how to cut it up herself. She has never gone back. She can't match Julia at her best, but is a lot better than the SNL one.

First the tools, the cleaver was a gift from my ex-mother-in-law, 30+ years later still in constant use. It has an edge that will cut paper. A chef's knife will also be added to the fray.

The bird, Tyson's finest. The yellow cutting board is even the correct color for poultry, so the infamous NY chicken police won't be along later. (We also have a red one and a white one and they get interchanged a lot, which ever is clean.)

First remove a wing, cutting the joint between the wing and the body.

This is where we discovered that she could cut faster than the flash could recharge. As you can see the second wing has jointed it's mate.

Then break the thigh away from the body, leg still attached.
It is fairly easy to find this joint and cut the double piece from the body.

Finding the joint between the leg and the thigh is a bit harder, although there is a landmark, but given experience this is a also a one stroke.

Same with the other leg-thigh.

Then split that double piece.

Now we have 6 pieces, more to go.

Stand the bird up, holding the back, and cut the entire breast section(s) free. I would use the cleaver myself, but she doesn't.

Then use the cleaver to free the back. The back can be frozen or refrozen for stock. So can the neck, giblets and wing tips, although we don't do it with the wing tips. (Refreezing meat simply breaks the cell structure down more, making it mushier. You are going to simmer this for 6 hours, nobody will care that the back isn't as firm as it could be).

Use the cleaver to split the breast lenghwise. This stroke is why we do it on plastic not wood, it leaves serious marks.
Use something sharp to complete the cut. I would have used the cleaver, but that thing is heavy so my wife used her Chef's knife.
At this point you have two whole pieces. Perhaps you wish to bone them, split them up and emulate Cook Eat Fret onThursday Night Smackdown.

But since most of these will be oven fried we simply cleave them in two.

And then the other.

Four minutes.

This can save you a lot. Odds are if what you need are two chicken breast fillets, you can do it yourself, throw the rest of the chicken away and save money. But why throw it away? Everybody knows the dark meat is better.

Pictures taken with a Nikon CoolPix
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© 2011 Virginia L. Dyson & Warner W. Johnston

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