While buying a whole chicken and cutting it up won’t save you any time, it will save you money. Most supermarkets charge more for pre-cut chicken pieces because the work is already done for you. Pre-cut chicken pieces are great for certain recipes that may call for a large amount of a certain cut, such as chicken wings or baked chicken thighs; however, cutting up a whole chicken allows you to plan for smaller meals or for recipes that call for various different cuts such as a cassoulet. You can even use the chicken carcass and wings to prepare soup stocks.
You may find cutting a whole chicken into pieces a little difficult, but the more often you do it, the easier it gets. Before you get started, you will need the proper tools to make this task a little easier. Some people use a very sharp one blade knife, while others find it easier to use kitchen shears or chicken shears. You will also need a non-slip surface that can be easily cleaned.
Now that you have the basics, let’s get started on cutting up a chicken.
Place the chicken breast side up on a chopping board. Start by pulling one of the legs away from the body and cutting through the skin and meat until you reach the joint in the thigh and hip area. Place your fingers behind the joint and pull the leg out until you feel the joint pop out. If the joint is too tough to come out, cut through it until you reach the bone that attaches the leg to the chicken and then break it apart carefully. Cut the chicken around the joint and remove the leg. Try not to cut through any bone, as you may end up with shattered bone pieces in your food. Repeat this step for the other leg.
Once both legs are done, you will need to separate the thighs from the drumsticks. Again, find the joint that joins the thigh and the drumstick and then pop the joint apart with your hands.
The next step is to remove the wings. To do this, you will need to place the chicken on its side. Pull one wing out from the body and pop the wing out at the shoulder joint. Repeat this step for the other wing.
Place the chicken breast side down and cut through the cartilage of the breastbone, which can be found at the head of the bird. Using your fingers, press the center of breastbone from the skin side until the bone pops out and then pull the bone outwards. You will then be able to easily remove the bone and cartilage.
Once you are done cutting the chicken, don’t forget to thoroughly wash your hands with warm water and soap for at least 20 minutes. Make sure to disinfect and wash your knife or shears, as well as any surfaces that have come in contact with the chicken.
If you are planning to eat only a few pieces of chicken, freeze the other cuts for later meals. You can also marinate the other pieces in your fridge overnight to use for a meal the next day.