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Updated: Mar 23

Today we will be showing you a step-by-step process of how to break down a raw chicken.

The benefits to learning this process will result in you not wasting good cuts of meat by poor butchery skills and also getting the most out of your dollar. What we mean by that is, in the case of chicken here, the price of one whole bird is cheaper than buying all the separate pieces of meat.

Below is a YouTube video of Brian breaking down a chicken with labelled steps:

How to break-down a raw chicken

  • Whole raw chicken

  • Butcher knife/boning knife

  • Steel/honing tool

  • Cutting board

  • Plate

  • Cloth

Method (shown in the video above):
  • I start by honing my blade on a steel to ensure it is sharp and will provide clean cuts. I use the cloth to remove any debris from honing before beginning.

  • Remove the string from the trussed chicken. The truss is not just for presentation purposes but ensures that the legs and wings are firmly fastened against the body. This helps the chicken maintain its shape and cook evenly without drying out any of the extremities. Since we are not roasting this chicken and rather breaking it down we remove the truss.

  • Flip the bird breast side down. Grabbing a wing, with long full strokes, slice at the joint of the wing working your way in and around the bone. Avoid cutting into the breast as best as possible. Once off, repeat with other wing.

  • Next take the two whole wings and trim the tips off at the joint, then separate the flat from the drum. Set aside the tips for a stock and the wings can be used for snacks or our stock recipe here.

  • Next we separate the crown (breasts) from the legs. Place the chicken on its back, spreading the legs and cutting at the flaps connecting the breast and the thighs.

  • Next we are going to fold and break the back to separate the crown. Cut where the back breaks horizontally. Now you have two separate pieces, the crown and the legs.

  • Now that the legs are separated from the crown, we will cut them apart from the lower part of the back bone. Place the legs upside down so they are flush with the board and the tail and legs are sticking up looking like a 'W'. Starting with the right leg, and with a firm grip, place your knife where the tail indents and cut down all the way through the back bone to separate the leg. Repeat with left leg and watch your fingers. Set aside the back bone with the rest of the trim for stock. If you would like to separate the legs, you can do this by cutting at the joint where the thigh and drum meet. Bend the leg and feel where the joint is, and with some pressure, cut down in one motion to separate the two parts. Repeat with other leg if necessary.

  • Next we break the crown (breasts) into bone-in breasts. Turn the breasts around so you are looking at the back bone (spine) where the neck would be. Take your knife and cut down the spine on both sides. Once the spine is removed, place the breasts skin side down. Pierce between the breastplate and cut fully through to separate the breasts. If you would like to go further and debone the breasts, simply work your way from the centre of the breastplate, cutting around with short strokes along the ribs until you work your way around the collar bone (wishbone), removing it either by hand or cutting it out. Separate the bone from the breast adding the bones to your stock pile.

  • The skin can be kept or removed simply by grabbing and pulling it off. Remove any lingering pieces with your knife. In front of you should be two breasts, two legs (two thighs and drums), four wing pieces, and a pile of bones/stock pile.

Price comparison

For a single person this is a minimum of 5 meals, up to 8 if you turn the stock into soup. This is a matter of opinion and differs depending on one's size, age and appetite and how many people are being fed.

This whole chicken cost us $25. Separately the pieces would add up to over $35, and this is not including the bones gained for stock.

Now that is how to break down a chicken! I hope you all enjoyed the post + video.

Check out how to turn those bones into stock/broth here!

- Brian


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