How to Cut Up a Cooked Chicken
Aimee HerringEveryone loves roasted chicken, but portioning the bird can be intimidating. Chef Bruce Mattel of The Culinary Institute of America demonstrates that it doesn't have to be difficult. He uses a boning knife -- a thin knife with a bit of flexibility -- and starts by cutting off both wings from the carcass. Next, he moves on to the leg quarters. There's a thin piece of skin that connects the drumstick and the breast, and once you slice through it, you can pull the leg and thigh away from the breast with your hand as you slice downward with the knife. Once you see the socket that connects the leg to the body of the chicken, bend it back until you feel the leg quarter release, then cut away any skin remaining and place the leg quarter on the plate. (You can separate the thigh from the leg at this point if you prefer.) Repeat this process with the remaining leg quarter.
Next up? The breast. There's a keel bone that separates the two breast halves. Run your knife down along one edge of this bone, then up and around the wishbone, and the breast half will come off in one piece. Do the same on the other side, and you've got a beautifully portioned roasted chicken.
For 60 years, The Culinary Institute of America has been setting the standard for excellence in professional culinary education. In this video series, experienced chefs and educators show you how to tackle essential cooking techniques.
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Hi, I'm Chef Bruce Mattel from the Culinary Institute of America, and I'm going to show you this kitchen basic: how to cut a whole cooked chicken.
Whether you roast chickens at home, or you bring them back cooked from the rotisserie section of the supermarket or grocery store, they're pretty easy to cut up. Let me show you how to do that. I'm going to use a cutting board and a boning knife to do this; I have a little flexibility with this knife that allows me to get into the crevices and cracks of the chicken.
I'm going to hold by one wing portion and just make a small cut, and release that wing and place it on a plate. I'll do the same thing on the other side and remove that wing, and place it there.
Now I'm going to separate the leg quarters from the rest of the carcass. There's a thin piece of skin that runs between the drumstick and the breast here. I'm going to place a little cut in there, and that will allow me to see the separation of the chicken breast and the leg quarter. I'm going to keep using my knife, pulling the chicken apart with my hands and using the tip of my knife to cut that and to separate it. Once I have cut to where I can see the thigh socket, I'm going to stop, place down my knife and just - using my hands - bend the chicken leg back until I release the little bone from the socket. Then I'm going to take my knife again and, slicing as close to the bone as possible, separate that leg from the rest of the carcass. I'll place that down and do the same exact thing to the other side: slice through that thin skin, pull the leg back to expose the bone socket, then take my hand and bend it back, and use the knife to release that leg from the carcass.
There is a keelbone right here in between the two breast halves. I want to feel where that bone is, and I take my knife and run right down that. Now back here is the wishbone, so I'm going to slice down right along there to score it, and remove the breast that way. I'll turn the chicken around to make it a little easier now - and as I pull the meat apart I'm going to use my knife to release it. Now, there is the second part of the wingbone here: I want to find that socket and pull back a little bit, then use my knife and cut right down. Here I have one half of the breast. I'm going to do the same thing on the other side: take my knife, run it back, slice around that wishbone, take my fingers, pull back and find that wingbone socket, and cut right through that. What's left is a fairly clean carcass. If you wanted to make soup with that, or clean off that excess meat and use it in another dish, you could feel free to do so.
Then what I like to do is leave my breast whole like this. With the leg quarters you can either leave them whole with the leg and thigh attached, or you can just cut them in two pieces. Right between the thigh and the leg is a little piece of fat; you identify that, and just slide your knife right through, and it separates them into two pieces.
Here you have it: one nicely portioned, roasted chicken. For more great tips, log on to kitchendaily.com!