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How to Cut Up a Whole Chicken

If chicken shows up on your weekly menu as often as it does on mine, this article is for you. It makes sense for chicken to be a frequent dinner choice because it is relatively inexpensive, most people like it and you can do any number of things with it.

Before chicken can end up on your dinner table, you need to buy it. There are a myriad of chicken options at the store from boneless skinless chicken breasts to whole chicken and everything in between. We are going to focus on the whole chicken and break it down into smaller pieces.There are several types of chicken, but the most common include broiler-fryers and roasters. Broiler-fryers are younger, smaller chickens. They are usually less than 4 pounds and very tender. Roasters, as the name implies, are great for roasting and are usually a bit larger (and older) often around 5 pounds. These can be used interchangeably in most applications. The roasters tend to have more meat to bone compared with the broiler-fryers.

Whole roast chicken is an elegant yet simple dinner. Bourbon Peach-Glazed Chicken is a great, easy roasted chicken recipe.

The downside to roasting a whole bird is it does take some time – depending on size, around 1 ½ hours or so. One way to speed up the time it takes to get it on the table is by cutting it up. Supermarkets offer different packages of pre-cut chicken – all thighs, all drummies, wings, etc. But if you want to make fried chicken or baked chicken with assorted white and dark meat pieces consider cutting up your own chicken. Here are the steps to take a whole chicken down to eight pieces.

Make sure you have a sharp, heavy knife. The weight of the knife helps do some of the work for you. The first step is to divide the chicken down the middle of the breast.

Next, open it up and cut along each side of the backbone. This gives you two chicken halves.

To get quarters, simply cut between the breast and the thigh on each half.

To remove the leg from the thigh, move the leg a bit to feel where the joint is – this is the easiest place to cut.

Do the same with the wing and the breast – move it a little first to feel for the joint between the two and cut to separate.

Now you are left with the classic eight pieces of chicken – the perfect start for Lemon Herb Broiled Chicken and Honey Cornbread Chicken. It might seem a little intimidating at first, but give it a try and you will see how easy it is to transform a whole chicken into halves, quarters or eighths – whatever your recipe or cooking technique requires!


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