Catherine Phipps, author of brilliant cookbook Chicken, tells us everything you need to know about jointing a chicken in her step by step masterclass. Get to grips with these techniques to help avoid waste and save money when you buy chicken.
How many pieces you joint your chicken into will depend entirely on what you want to do with the chicken pieces and how many people you are serving. I do six (breasts, whole legs, wings), or eight (the legs cut into thighs and drumsticks) or 10 (the breasts cut in half through the bone). The back does not form part of any of these joints, so you can save it for stock. This method (see below for step by step photography) will also help you take out the
oyster intact, which can be very useful if you want to use them separately in salad. Removing them is entirely optional, you can leave them attached to the leg joints if you prefer.
1. FIND AND REMOVE THE OYSTERS Put the chicken on a work surface, breast-side down (1). Cut off the parson’s nose. Cut through the skin, right down the centre of the back, from one end to the other (2). Use your thumbs to feel for the oysters – you will find two bumps either side of the centre of the back, at the top of the thigh. Make a cut across the back, just below the oysters and peel back the skin.Work to loosen the oysters with your knife, then pop them out (3).
REMOVE THE LEGS Turn the chicken breast-side up. Pull one leg away from the body and cut between the leg and the rest of the body. Push the leg down to pop the ball of the thigh bone out of its socket (4), then cut through the rest of the sinews and skin. Repeat on the other side (5 and 6).
REMOVE THE BREASTS If you want fillets here, simply cut down the sides of the breast bone (7), following the contour of the rib cage, to cut through the meat as close to the ribs as you can until it comes clean away (8 and 9). For breasts on the bone, cut down the side of the breast bone as before, but, instead of continuing to cut the meat away from the rib cage, instead use poultry shears to cut through the rib cage (11 and 12). Turn the carcass over again and cut away where the breast is still attached to its side.
SEPARATE BREASTS FROM WINGS Feel where the wing joint attaches to the breast (this is the bone you will normally find attached the chicken breast when sold as a supreme) and cut through it (13 and 14).
SEPARATE THIGHS FROM DRUMSTICKS Put the leg skin-side down. You will see a line of fat; cut along this to
expose the joint, then bend it back to pop the ball of the joint out of the socket (16 and 17). Trim through any flesh, sinews and skin.
HALVE THE BREAST PORTIONS Cut at an angle across the breast. Cut through the flesh with a knife and finish with poultry shears to cut the bones to give a cleaner cut.