Having certain kitchen skills can be beneficial in multiple ways. For instance, being able to can your own vegetables will save you lots of money over time with the added assurance of food when funds are low. In the same way learning to bake can save your family a great deal of money by not buying desserts and/or bread. There are a number of ways that kitchen skills can benefit a household but in my opinion, saving money is at the top of the list. That’s why I appreciate being able to butcher a chicken myself.
It saves us more than a few dollars to buy a whole chicken and cut it up for frying or baking. A whole chicken usually cost $2- $3 less per pound than a chicken already butchered. It’s an especially good thing to cut up a whole chicken yourself when each member in your family likes different parts of the bird. That way you don’t have to buy different packages of parts to satisfy everyone. One and done.
Being a self-taught home cook, I acquired many of my cooking skills through cooking shows, cookbooks, and messing around in the kitchen. And while I am in no way an Ina Gartner, I feel like I’ve learned enough to pass along to others. My technique may be less than textbook but I promise it will get the job done. Let’s get started.
You will need:
- Whole chicken, defrosted and innards removed
- Cutting board
- Sharp cutting shears
- Butchers knife
Butterfly aka Spatchcock
A spatchcock or butterflied chicken is one that has been cut open such that the breast of the bird is fully intact and flatted while the backbone is removed. Spatchcocking allows the bird to cook evenly and rapidly. You can oven roast or grill a whole spatchcocked chicken in the same amount of time that you would sectioned pieces.
1- Make sure your chicken has been rinsed and dried by patting it inside and outside with paper towels.
3- Hold the tail of the bird with one hand and use the cutting shears to cut along side the tailbone all the way up to the neck through the other end.
Step 5- Fan the bird open by pressing the side down. Flip the bird over breast-side up. Press the breastbone down to further flatten the bird and you are done.
Depending on what you want to do with the chicken will determine how many pieces you want to end up with. Most birds will be cut into two, four, or eight pieces; sometimes ten if the breast is split. (I prefer 10 pieces as demonstrated below.)
Step 2- Starting with breast-side up, place the spatchcocked bird on a cutting board with the legs towards you with one hand carefully placed firmly on one side of the breast. Using a sharp butchers knife, cut between the breast all the way down to the bottom. If you were not able to cut all the way through the bone, you will need to apply more pressure by using both hands or by cutting through with the shears.
Step 2- Starting with one chicken half placed on a cutting board skin side down, cut firmly midway between the end of the breastbone and the thigh using a sharp butcher’s knife. Repeat on the second half.
8ths (and/or 10ths)
Step 1- Follow steps above before following the next step.
Step 2- Starting with the breast quarters, locate the joint that connects the wing to the breast. Grip the wing firmly to make the joint accessible. Using the cutting shears, cut the skin at and through the joint removing the wing. Repeat with the other breast quarter.
Step 3- Locate the joint that connects the leg and the thigh. Hold leg firmly to make the joint accessible. Using the butcher’s knife cut the meat around the joint, exposing the joint. Take the cutting shears and cut through the joint gristle to separate if needed. Repeat on the other side.
Cutting the chicken into 10 pieces is perfect for frying because the breast isn’t too big and it serves more people.
Let me know if you find this post helpful. Are there any other kitchen tips/tricks you’d like to know? Leave suggestions in the comments! I’d love to do more of these.
Grace & Peace,