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Knife Skills

Knife Skills – How to Cut a Whole Chicken

Knife Skills – How to Cut a Whole Chicken


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In this video, Mahalo's Chef Eric Crowley shows you how to ‬cut a whole chicken.

What You'll Need

Sharpened boning knife* Cleaver or
chef's knife* Cutting board
Whole chickenc 

Step 1: Prepare the Chicken

1. Familiarize yourself with the parts of your chicken so you know what you're cutting. There are wings, legs/thighs and breasts.
2. Rinse and dry your chicken. If it has been sitting out a while, wipe any condensation away with a paper towel.
3. Remove the entrails (gizzard, liver, heart and neck) and either freeze to use later or discard.

Step 2: Separate the Wings

Start with the wings. Hold the chicken by the wings and cut where they meet the breasts. Slice gently and allow gravity to help separate the pieces. Make sure you get under the cartilage.

Step 3: Separate the Legs/Thighs

Repeat the same process with the legs/thighs. Hold the chicken by the legs and cut gently where they meet the breast as gravity pulls the pieces apart. Make shallow cuts where the skin is being stretched.
Pop the thigh bone out of the socket and feel around for the connecting tendon with your finger. Cut that tendon to separate the leg.

Step 4: Separate the Breasts

To remove the breasts from the backbone, stand the chicken on its neck and cut along the backbone. If you run into ribs, you'll be able to cut through them with your boning knife, but you will hear clicking as they break. You may be able to separate the backbone from the breasts at the neck by hand, but if it is too tough, use your knife.
Then use a cleaver or chef's knife to separate the two breasts. You'll be cutting through the breast bone, so you'll need to lean on the knife and maybe press harder than you'd expect. Trim away any excess skin and fat from around the neck.

Step 5: Separate the Legs from the Thighs

To separate the legs from the thighs, cut along the line of fat that runs perpendicular to the leg bone. Expose the joint, feel around for it with your fingers then cut through it with your boning knife. If it's too tough, you may be too far to the left or right.
You can save the extra pieces in a freezer bag to make chicken stock later.

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