Before I attended culinary school, I always bought pre-cut chicken. First, because I could choose the parts that I like, and second because I really didn’t know how to cut a chicken up. But when I went to culinary school, they taught us how to do it. It looked easy at first but it was difficult for me. So, I practiced a lot, inspired as well by chefs who’d cut chicken as if it were a piece of cake. If they can do it, so can I! I told my mom to but whole chickens instead of those cut ones. Believe me, in the beginning, my family made fun of my chicken proportions.
But I slowly learned how to cut them properly. The thing about doing your own chicken portions is that you can control the size of your chicken. Not that you can do so much, but you know what I mean.
Caution: Raw chicken contains salmonella, so I advise that you use a separate cutting board for you chicken, wash it thoroughly after use, including your knife. Make sure to cook your chicken properly.
How to cut up a chicken
You need a knife (a sharp one please) and a separate chopping board.
- Remove the parts that are hanging, like the head, neck and the wing tips.
- Then, cut off the chicken tail. Foreigners don’t really eat this part, but we Filipinos love this. You can set it aside, or you may choose to not cut it yet and include it when you cut one of the chicken breasts.
- Cut the skin between the thigh and breast area. Then pop the bone connecting to it. This will give you access to where you would have to cut through the skin to separate the breast from the thigh.
- Cut at an angle between the drumstick and the thigh. The knee joint has a bone, and that’s where you have to cut.
- Cutting the wings is easy; all you have to do is spread it and cut where the wing ends. (Again, you need a sharp knife for this.)
- Cut down the middle following the chicken backbone. You could use a pair of scissors to cut through it, but a knife will do too.
- You can proportion size of the chicken breast you want, then just cut through it.
For beginners, I suggest you cut the chicken first into two. Then, you remove one by one the parts. The reason why I didn’t mention this as my number one is because as time goes by, and you’ll get used to it, and it’ll be easier to remove the parts first before butchering the whole chicken.