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Cutting Up a Whole Chicken

March 30, 2017

My latest cooking goal is to start buying whole chickens and cutting them up myself. Even though it’s easier to just buy the specific pieces I want, I’m trying to embrace this new challenge, mainly because it’s cheaper. For the price of a package of boneless skinless chicken breasts, I could buy the whole chicken and get several more meals.

The only problem was I didn’t know how to do it. But then I found this great video on YouTube: How to Cut Up a Whole Chicken. It’s less than 4 minutes, and also includes making stock with the scraps!

So far I’m on chicken number three and it definitely got easier after the first one…but not yet easy enough for me to tackle on a weeknight before making dinner, which I did last time. Whoops. Late dinner. Nevertheless, I think I’m hooked. I’ll just try to plan ahead and get it done on the weekends.

Here’s how I’ve been using a whole chicken:

Boneless skinless chicken breasts for chicken marsala. (The first time I had a bit of trouble and also ended up with some smaller pieces to use for a stir fry).

(I also saw a tip in the Bread Baker’s Apprentice that you can cook the skin, seasoned with a little salt and pepper, in the oven at 350 degrees F until it gets nice and crispy. Best part of a roast chicken!)

Chicken legs and thighs for chicken and rice (and another version not on this blog).

Chicken wings cut and ready and stored in the freezer until I get enough to make a batch of buffalo wings worth baking

Backbone, breastbone, and wing tips for stock (Instructions in the video).

The third time I used the whole chicken in pieces for chicken fricassee. I’ve also got a few more recipes I want to make that call for a whole chicken. I’ll try to update this list once I make some more.

Here are my takeaways so far:

-It’s worth it, but does take some planning and time. Especially to let the stock simmer. Next time I think I’ll use the slow cooker.

-It helps to have a place (bags/soup pot/etc.) for all the various chicken parts ready to go before starting.

-A sharp knife is a must

-I like to wear disposable gloves to make cleanup easier. It’s hard to turn on the tap when my hands are full of raw chicken.

This has also inspired my cooking beyond chicken. I recently bought a pork shoulder for a soup I wanted to try. Even the smallest one was much bigger than I needed, so I cut up some for another recipe and stuck it in the freezer, then I was left with a big awkward piece with a bone in it. Since I was going to make a pork soup, I thought I might as well make a pork stock with the meaty bone. It was getting late so I just stuck it in the slow cooker overnight with some onion/carrot/celery.  It worked great. Then I had the meat in the broth to add to another soup. We’ve gotten a lot of good soup for that $8 piece of meat!

If you use a whole chicken, what do you do with it?


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