Cutting Up Chicken

There are many ways to cut up chickens. Every chef has his or her own preferred methods. Some of these methods are illustrated, step by step,in Figures 12.4,12.5, and 12.6. They show how to split a chicken for broiling and how to cut whole chickens into quarters and eighths, for both bone-in parts and semi-boneless pieces.

As for meats, it is important to know the bone structure of chicken in order to cut it up.The best way to learn this is to practice cutting chickens.

Figure 12.4

Splitting chicken for broiling.

Figure 12.4

Splitting chicken for broiling.

(a) Hold the chicken up by the tail. Cut through the bones to one side of the (b) Split the chicken open. backbone, all the way to the neck.

(e) For a portion size of one-half chicken, cut the chicken in half down the center of the breast. Make a split in the skin below the leg and slip the end of the leg through it as shown to hold the chicken in shape.

(f) Portion-size Cornish game hens are left whole.

Figure 12.5

Cutting chicken into quarters and eighths, bone in.

Figure 12.5

Cutting chicken into quarters and eighths, bone in.

(a) Place the chicken on the cutting board breast up. Split the chicken down the center of bones on one side of the backbone the breast with a heavy knife as shown.

(b) Spread the chicken open and cut through the (c) Cut off the backbone completely. Save for stocks.

(a) Place the chicken on the cutting board breast up. Split the chicken down the center of bones on one side of the backbone the breast with a heavy knife as shown.

(b) Spread the chicken open and cut through the (c) Cut off the backbone completely. Save for stocks.

(d) Cut through the skin between the leg and the breast.

(f) To cut into eighths, cut the drumstick and

(e) Pull the leg back and cut off the entire leg section. Repeat with the other half. The chicken thigh apart at the joint. is now in quarters.

(d) Cut through the skin between the leg and the breast.

(f) To cut into eighths, cut the drumstick and

(e) Pull the leg back and cut off the entire leg section. Repeat with the other half. The chicken thigh apart at the joint. is now in quarters.

(g) Cut the breast and wing quarter into two (h) The chicken cut into eighths. Note that the first joint of each wing equal pieces. (Another method is simply to cut has been cut off. off the wing.)

(g) Cut the breast and wing quarter into two (h) The chicken cut into eighths. Note that the first joint of each wing equal pieces. (Another method is simply to cut has been cut off. off the wing.)

Figure 12.6

Cutting up chickens, semiboneless.

(a) Cut off the wings at the second joint. Save for stocks.

(b) Cut through skin between the leg and body.

(d) Holding the chicken steady with the knife, pull off the leg. Repeat with the other leg.

(e) Turn the breast portion upright. Cut down along one side of the ridge of the breastbone to separate the breast meat from the bone.

(d) Holding the chicken steady with the knife, pull off the leg. Repeat with the other leg.

(e) Turn the breast portion upright. Cut down along one side of the ridge of the breastbone to separate the breast meat from the bone.

(g) Holding the chicken by the wing, cut through (h) Holding the carcass steady with the knife, the wing joint. pull back on the wing and breast meat.

(c) Turn the chicken on its side and pull the leg back. Carefully start to cut the flesh from the bone, being sure to get the "oyster," the little nugget of tender meat in the hollow of the hip bone. Cut through the ligaments at the hip joint.

(f) Continue the cut along the wishbone to the wing joint.

(i) Pull the breast meat completely off the bone. Be sure to hold on to the small "tenderloin" muscle inside the breast so it doesn't separate from the rest of the meat. Repeat with the other side.

(j) If desired, remove the thigh bone. Cut down along both sides of the bone to separate it from the meat.

(k) Lift out the bone and cut it off at the joint.

(l) For a neater appearance, chop off the end of the wing bone with the heel of the knife.

(j) If desired, remove the thigh bone. Cut down along both sides of the bone to separate it from the meat.

(k) Lift out the bone and cut it off at the joint.

(l) For a neater appearance, chop off the end of the wing bone with the heel of the knife.

(m) The cut-up chicken. From left: breast portions without and with wing bone; leg portions without and with thigh bone; wing sections and carcass for stockpot. The drumstick and thigh (bone-in) may be cut apart at the joint, as in Figure 12.5.

■ TERMS FOR REVIEW

maturity light meat dark meat free-range organic inspection grading kind class style broiler/fryer roaster capon hen fowl

White Pekin magret moulard guinea squab quail partridge pheasant ratite ostrich emu trussing

■ QUESTIONS FOR DISCUSSION

1. Why are hens or fowl not roasted in commercial kitchens? 4. How should fresh and frozen poultry be stored?

2. Why is the breast section so often dry when whole chickens and turkeys are roasted? Can you suggest ways to remedy this problem?

3. Give a brief description of each of the following classes of poultry. Be sure to mention relative tenderness and approximate size.

Capon

Roaster duckling

Broiler/fryer

Roaster

Young tom turkey Rock Cornish hen Yearling turkey Hen or fowl

5. Describe five methods for determining doneness in poultry items.

6. What is the purpose of trussing poultry?

7. Why are most game birds better if not cooked until well done?

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he muscle tissue of domestic poultry and game birds, as we have said, has basically the same structure as the muscle tissue of meat animals. In particular, the breast meat of chicken and turkey is so similar to veal that they are interchangeable in many recipes.

Imaginative cooks realize that even when two meats are quite different—chicken and beef, for example—interesting new dishes can be made with substitutions that might seem unusual. For example, it is possible to make a delicious chili from chicken or turkey meat, a preparation that has the added advantage of having a lower food cost than beef chili.

Because the basic cooking methods for poultry are the same as for meat, they are not repeated here. But you may want to review them before proceeding with any of the recipes in this chapter. Also, please review the discussion of light and dark meat (p. 353) in the previous chapter, as well as the methods for testing doneness (p. 358).

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