Butchery tip – jointing a chicken
A proper free-range chicken makes a stunning meal, but these days it can seem like an expensive option. We've become so used to the idea that a chicken is little more than cheap protein - something to be eaten without consideration. Whether its ubiquitous sandwich fillings eaten on the go during the day, or as the 'bulk' in a hastily cooked midweek meal. Chicken has become something we eat without any sense of its value. We expect it to be cheap because we don't expect much from it.
We think a really good free-range chicken can be a good value option for a family meal. Especially if you take the time to learn a few new skills that will allow you to make the most of the chicken and maximise the meals you can get from it. The best way to do this is to spend a few minutes learning to joint your chicken, so we've put together a step-by-step guide to show you exactly how this is done.
There is only 1 rule to follow here, and we say this to everyone who attends one of our butchery courses. That rule is that it doesn't matter what the end result looks like. Its all about having a go, enjoying the process of learning to reconnect with the food we eat and not being afraid to make mistakes. It'll all cook exactly the same at the end of the day.
Step 1 - removing the legs
Take your whole chicken and remove any string or tying bands that have been supplied with it. Turn it so that the legs are facing you. Pull the legs slightly to open up the gap between the inside of the thigh and the breast.
Take a small sharp boning knife and run it down the inside of the thigh to cut the skin between leg and breast. Do this on both sides and then push each leg down towards the table or block until the joint at the base of the leg cracks. Now run then knife along the inside of the leg between this joint and the carcass of the chicken until the leg is separated.
Step 2 - splitting the thigh and drumstick.
Turn the leg over so that is lying skin side down. On the inside of the thigh you will see a small white line separating the thigh from the drumstick. If you push a knife downwards on this line in one clean motion you will cut between the joint and be left with a cleanly separated thigh and drumstick. If you happen to miss the joint don't worry, just lean on the knife with a bit more weight and you'll get through with a bit of brute force. Pretend you meant to do that and move on to the next step - like I said it doesn't matter..
Step 3 - splitting the chicken.
Turn the chicken breast side up on a chopping block. Take a sharp carving knife and insert it through the carcass until the point emerges from the neck end. Place the knife to one side of the spine bone and push down hard until the knife goes through. Do the same to the other side of the spine and this section will come away (giving you some bones for stock)..
Step 4 - jointing the breast section.
Turn the chicken over so that its breast-side down. Take the carving knife and place it on the line of bone running between the two breasts. Push down firmly with the knife and this will split the bone, leaving you with 2 chicken breasts, on the bone.
To further break down the breast section place a chicken breast on the chopping bone-side down. Place the knife at an angle across the breast so that heel of the knife is close to the joint where the wing and breast join. Push the knife down and the breast will now be cut into 2 sections.
Congratulations! You have now taken one free-range chicken and turned it into 8 good sized pieces (2 thighs, 2 drumsticks, 4 chicken breast pieces) to use in different dishes.
If you're feeling flushed with confidence why not try taking the breasts off the bone next time? To do this go back to to step 3 and do things slightly differently:
Step 3 - removing the breasts.
Don't separate the carcass into two halves. Instead sit the chicken carcass on the cutting board with the neck end facing towards you. using the tip of a very sharp knife start at the top of the carcass in the centre and cut along the central breast bone all the way down towards you. As the knife reaches the wish bone in the neck angle it slightly away from the central breast bone. Go back to the top and keep running the knife along the rib cage slowly separating the breast from the carcass. as you reach the final stages your knife will meat the joint between the wing and the breast. Run the knife inside this joint so the wing remains on the breast. The breast should now come away. remove the wing if required (or leave on as chicken supreme). repeat on the other side. You now have 2 boneless chicken breasts and a complete chicken carcass for soup or stock.
Hopefully that free-range chicken suddenly looks more like a good value and versatile week's worth of meals!
Return to Whole Roasting Chicken in online shop
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