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Cutting up a chicken

Discussion in 'Meat Selection and Processing' started by pops6927, Jul 27, 2009.

  1. pops6927

    pops6927 Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Went and bought a chicken so I could take some pictures on how to cut it up. I took a messload of them, 31, lol, but I'll try to keep the number down!
    Got a 5 lb. fryer, nice size chicken @ .88 lb., about $4.00. Let me introduce you to the victim.. er, subject:

    Start by laying it on one side and cut the wing off - cut under the wing towards the front of the chicken, expose the joint and cut through it:

    Flip it over and cut off the other:

    Then, lay her on her back and cut down each thigh:

    Grip the chicken under each thigh at the joint and 'break' it, bending the thighs downward until the leg bones pop out of their sockets on the backbone:

    Then cut the thighs off the backbone. If you're careful and pull on it a little you can pull out a piece of meat from the backbone that resides in a cavity just above the socket called 'the oyster'. I didn't bother doing it on this one, but on a future post I can focus in on that little part.

    End of part I, wings and legs cut off.
    Last edited: Feb 28, 2017
  2. pops6927

    pops6927 Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Here, we'll cut the backbone out of the breast, remove the keel bone and cut the breast in half. 1st, imagine two lines, one on each side of the spine to cut down through - I've made cuts in the skin to indicate where to cut (this is with her breast side down):

    Then you just cut down those lines and through the rib bones down through the neck. If you get too wide a cut you'll run into the shoulder blade of the chicken, a wide, flat bone that you won't be able to cut through. If so, just move your knife more towards the center of the spine and avoid that bone. After the entire backbone is cut out, this is what the two look like:

    Then, you want to clip the cartilage at the end of the keel bone (breastbone) to expose both sides of the keel bone. You can grip that bone and yank it out, including the cartilage attached to it (white part).


    Then simply separate the two halves. You will cut through the wishbone at the top of the breast, so expect some resistance:

    End of part II.
  3. pops6927

    pops6927 Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Now, we need to further cut up the rest of the chicken. On the leg, we can separate that into drumstick and thigh. On the inside of the leg, nature gives us a cutting line, fortunately! If you look, there's a membrane line right where you need to cut through it:

    And you just cut straight down through it through the joint:

    Then you have two thighs and two drumsticks:

    Last, but not least, is further processing the wing:

    Cut through the joints and separate into the tip, wingette and drumette:

    Now, your chicken is cut up! Laying it out, here's what it looks like, plus pix of the fore half and hind half:

    Notice in the top right of that picture, PJ my dog waiting patiently for me to get done so she can score the wing tips and backbone (you can just see her head on the floor and one paw)? She knows when I'm cutting up something she'll get some part of!

    Now, this is how to completely cut up a chicken. You can still, based on need, just cut it in half, quarters, etc., however you'd like. Each piece also can be boned out for boneless chicken too; when broken down into it's smaller pieces it's much easier to see how to remove the bones.

    Hope this helps!

    Pops §§