A great saving on money and waste can be made by butchering a whole chicken yourself. You'll end up using all of the bird in a number of meals.
If you look at the cost of a whole chicken compared to the individual parts you should be able to see a reasonable saving can be made. Off this particular bird I took away 500g of breast meat, the legs and I have two wings stored away to make a whole meal 4-5 chickens down the line. The chicken was a low priced bird working out at £3.90 for around 1.8kg. ASDA's current price to buy their cheapest of cheap breast meat alone is 3.70 per 500g. So with a bit of work we've got that price right down by separating it ourselves. Taking a chicken apart is not a job for people that are a bit squeamish, so stop now if you are not going to like it.
If you have decided you would like to continue, let's begin. I normally start by removing the wings. Take a cleaver or a large sharp knife, extend the wing with one hand and place the blade into the joint you should now be able to see. A cleaver is better for this work because they have some weight behind them and also, normally, they have a wider flatter top so you can apply pressure with your other hand. Pivot the end of the blade on the chopping board and apply pressure with one hand on the handle and the other on top of the knife. This should just go straight through the joint leaving only a bit of skin and meat to cut through. Do the same on the other side and you should have two wings.
Next I take the breast meat off. With a smaller knife, start at the highest point and follow the line of breast cutting the skin between it and the leg. You'll reach a point at which this gets harder, stop here.
Do the same on the other side. Now, once again starting at the highest point peel back the skin (assuming you want skinless) all the way down and tuck under the bird. With the small knife gently cut to one side of the breast bone taking the meat away from the bone. Take little cuts to make sure the meat is kept in the best condition possible. Work you way down the bone until you've formed a gorge. Start again at the top and work it all away from the rib cage taking the most you can away from the bone, once again small delicate cuts are best here. Eventually it will start to come away from the leg end, but don't rush it as it will still be attached at the neck end. Continue cutting away until it has been separated in one piece. Repeat and now you'll have to super bits of breast meat.
Next job is to remove the legs. Turn the chicken over and extend the leg, this will reveal the muscle line to follow, score around this to begin with before preceding to cut through to the joint. If you follow this line you'll find the joint and be able to dislocate it saving you cutting through bone. Once dislocated cut through the remaining flesh and apply the same treatment to the other leg.
So this will leave the carcass which you could use to make your easy homemade chicken stock. If you are going to use some parts the same day, return them to the fridge. Otherwise put the rest into the freezer for when you need them. Perfect, this £3.90 chicken will now be used for at least 3 meals making it now a pretty reasonably priced ingredient.
I must point out I have never been formally trained in butchery. One day I decided to have a go myself, and this is the method I use. Any better ways you may know of to do this please leave a comment.
Please Note: Prices used in this article were correct as of 2nd April 2012
- Written by Stuart Edge
- Category: Butchery
- Published: 02 April 2012