As a kid growing up in the 60s, I often helped my mom cut up a whole chicken for Sunday dinner. Back then the neck, heart, liver and gizzard, also known as the giblets, were neatly tucked inside the bird. The adult version of the surprise in the Cracker Jack box, Mom said it was the best part.
By the time I was old enough to prepare my own meals, the nation was deeply ensconced in the fat-free craze and I, along with everyone else, purchased boneless, skinless chicken breasts for the next couple of decades, letting my chicken cutting skills go by the wayside.
Enter 2015 — fat-free is a thing of the past and we can now guiltlessly enjoy all parts of the bird. Unfortunately, chickens don’t come with an instruction sheet and the task of butchering a whole bird can be rather daunting. Without Mom to guide me, I enlisted the help of a pro — Chef Tyler Florence via video on Grokker.
I bought myself a three-pound bird and prepared to battle.
I watched the video a couple of times through and re-wound the track a few more during the process. Chef Florence moves like the wind, but hey, he’s probably butchered hundreds of chickens and this was my first one in a really long time.
His “follow the dotted line” method worked like a charm. I could easily tell where to slice into my chicken, but what the video doesn’t show is how to cut through the joint. To locate the exact spot to dismember my bird, I needed to pop the joint out of its socket the way my mom used to. With the bone exposed it was easier to see where to cut. That way you don’t try to hack straight through a bone and end up with a sharp raggedy piece.
Chef also uses a super sharp knife (like lose-a-digit sharp); my blade was overdue for a sharpening, but it still got the job done. I ended up with eight almost perfect pieces.
Another slick trick: Chef Florence’s method automatically removes the meat from the rib bones so you end up with two perfectly matched boneless breasts ideal for fancier dishes. (You can also cut these in half.)
That night we feasted on oven-fried chicken.
After all these years, I still prefer light meat. Old habits die-hard.
Do you know what alektorophobia is? It’s the fear of chickens. —Karen