Master the Basics: How To Cut Up a Whole Chicken

January 17, 2017

Every home cook should know how to cut up a whole chicken, but a surprising number of us don't know where to begin and simply end up purchasing our poultry in pieces. Breaking down a whole bird is simple and an efficient way to stretch your meals (turn those precious bones into broth!) and your dollars.

Watch chef Gordon Ramsay demonstrate how to cut up a whole chicken below.



Chicken, the most popular bird in the country. Now, I always buy them whole and enjoy them. You'll be surprised how far a chicken can go. Very versatile. More importantly, cost-effective. So now I'm going to show you how to make portions you can out of it.

Open up the legs and just pierce the skin there, careful not to cut into the breast. And hang on top of the breast and pull the drum back. Pop out that bone from the joint. Cut right down into the carcass, and slice the drum and the thigh off. Turn the chicken around again. Pull the skin, pop out. And then slice the knife straight across the drum and the thigh. There's the thigh, there's the drum. Feel where the knuckle is, and get your knife and slice through it. And then you can to chop just straight through. And on this one again, get your thumb and feel the joint. And with the weight of the knife just slice this through. Now two beautiful thighs, great for roasting, great for salads and sandwiches, and amazing on the barbecue.

But these little drums, the most difficult part of the chicken to cook. Now bit of a chef's tip, half way down the drum just slice through onto the bone. And then from there scrap the tendons. And then hand down, nice and firm on top. Now I've got this beautiful bone presentation. As it cooks, it cooks evenly. The knuckles on the top of the drum keep for stock.

Now the wings. This part, pull out the wing, right out. Feel where the end of the joint is with your thumb again, and just slice in there through. A beautiful, big whole delicious wing. The two wings, the two thighs, and the two drums, that's classed as a dark brown meat. Incredibly tasty.

Now this is the Rolls Royce part, two breasts. That's the breast bone there. Place the chicken center on the board. Nice dry knife, stop it from dripping. And then just slice down at the back of the crown. Everyone always cuts around the wishbone. Cut through it. Pull out the knife, hand on the knife. And just tilt it upwards, and it comes straight through. That way we get straight to the center of the carcass, and therefore there's no waste. And look, we end up taking off these amazing plump chicken breasts.

Turn the carcass back round, slice through the other side. Let the knife do the work, and just always keep the knife close to the carcass. If the knife stays close you're not leaving any flesh on the carcass. Again, through the wishbone and off. And look, nice.

Two drums, two thighs, two wings, two breasts of chicken, and one amazing carcass for a stock, and not an ounce of waste.

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