There are two ways in which chickens or poultry can be cut up, one for home use and the other for professional use. The technique can be learned quite easily and it’s a useful skill to have.
The advantages are that it is more economical to cut up chicken or poultry yourself than buying in portions, and you can cut the way you want them in any various combinations such as drumsticks with or without the thigh, or breasts with or with the wings, etc.
A key point to remember is to feel the joints when you have to sever sinews and cartilage. To cut through bones, ideally a serrated knife or poultry shears are used.
The method that is common and popular amongst home cooks is as follows:
Basically there are eight steps to cut up the chicken or poultry. Firstly, by using a large sharp knife, free the leg by carefully cutting the skin between the body and the leg. Cut through the skin as far as the joint, bending the leg outwards with the hand. Then twist the leg until the ball of the joint springs out. After that, cut through the joint, pressing lightly. Cut through the leg at the knee joint to separate the thigh from the drumstick. Separate the wing at the shoulder joint, cutting off a small part of the breast with it. Press quite firmly to split the collarbone and divide the back parallel to the backbone. Cut across the back at the middle point, breaking the backbone with short movements of the knife. Finally to separate the breasts, carefully cut left and right along the length of the breastbone.
The professional cooks have a different method of cutting up chickens or poulty and the following method is based on 1-3/4 pounds poultry, in order to achieve portions of equal size:
In eight steps, firstly make a cut approximately 3/8 inch deep across the back under the shoulder blades. Cut along the backbone at a right angle to this and remove the “chicken oysters”, which is the tender part whose quality matches that of the breasts. Cut through the skin between the body and the leg. Spread out the leg and cut through the joint. Chop off the outermost section of each wing, cutting through the joint with a small chopper or large knife.
Remove the wings with some breast meat, along the breastbone and wishbone as far as the joint. To remove the breasts, first hold the chicken firmly by the wishbone and cut along the breastbone. Turn the carcass 180 degree, then loosen the breast from the front along the wishbone as far as the joint. Take off the breast, making a cut from the joint to the end of the breastbone.
The legs are left in one piece and the wing tips are removed, for the sake of appearance.
The number of individual pieces depends on the size of the chicken. You can use the remainder of the carcass to make stock, soups and sauces.
The two methods above are simple to master and whether you choose to cut your chickens simply or professionally, these are the correct methods to follow.