Most of us home cooks buy pre-cut pieces of chicken rather than whole chickens. We think a pack of chicken breasts, thighs, legs or wings can be more affordable. This can be true if you plan to cook several of each piece in a value pack. However, I want to challenge this notion a bit. You can get more for your buck if learn to debone a chicken and use all of the bird to it’s max. The trick is learning the techniques to unlock all of the flavor in the whole chicken.
My chef instructor in culinary school called this the “Quart of Blood” method to deboning a chicken. Look, I’ll admit, this is probably one of the grossest cooking techniques you could learn, but you should learn it. It’s one of those survival skills that’s good to know even if you don’t use it very often. It teaches you a lot about anatomy as well. I’m not totally sure how, but I’m sure in the case of zombie apocalypse this skill will probably come in handy.
Now, prepare yourself. There are 30 pictures of cut up chicken parts coming up…yes, 30. I really wanted you to understand all of the steps involved in this process….maybe I’ll get a tripod for my camera to take video. Until then, I hope you find these pictures helpful.
Step 1 Cut Out the Wishbone
Prop your chicken up on it’s bottom to get a clear view of the neck and wishbone. Make cuts on both sides of the wishbone. Cut the wishbone away from the breast bone.
Step 2 Detach the back bone
Pop the shoulder joints and cut through each shoulder. Lay the chicken breast side down. Cut along each side of the back bone, but make sure that your knife stays on the outside of the shoulder blade and on the inside of the small meaty part of the thigh, sometimes called the “oyster.”
Step 3 Detatch the Thighs and Legs
Pop the thigh joint and move you knife through the joint starting at the top of the thigh near the mid section of the chicken and moving toward the tail.
Step 4 Detatch the Carcass
Cut along the rib bones on both sides separating the breasts from the carcass. With one hand take a firm grip on the back bone and run your other along the top of the breast and slide it under the carcass as you pull the back bone up and toward you. If you left the shoulder blades in tact the entire carcass will (somewhat) easily pull right off of the breast with the tenders still attached.
You can slice the tenders off of the carcass and cut the breast in half along the breast bone center line. Reserve the carcass for Chicken Stock.
Step 5 Separate the Thighs and Legs
Pop the leg and thigh joint and fold them in half as if the leg were curled up normally. Cut along the line that appears between the joint down into the joint. Lay the thigh and leg down on your board and continue cutting all the way through.
Step 6 Separate the Wings and Drumettes
Use a similar technique as with the leg and thigh to separate the wing from the drumette. Pop the join, make a cut between the joint, lay the wing down on the board to cut all the way through
Step 7 Airline or Regular Chicken Breast
You can leave the drumette attached to the chicken breast for an “Airline Breast.” If you choose this route cut around the join to clean up the bone. You can also choose to remove the drumette from the breast by simply cutting around the joint connecting it to the breast.
There you have it! That’s your deboned chicken. Enjoy!