It’s Chicken Week- Break it Down!

21 Feb

by Green Gourmet L

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It’s no secret that chicken has gotten more expensive. And if you are attempting to buy the organic, free range, no-hormone, cage-free, Certified Humane chicken, you DEFINITELY want to get the most for your money. At Green Gourmets, we don’t eat a lot of meat, but when we do we like to get meat from local farmers that has been raised in a humane way. If you haven’t already watched this documentary, Food Inc. really makes you think about the kinds of food that you’re buying and the agriculture industry in the US. It definitely made me think twice.

So back to chicken…you’ve probably heard that buying the whole chicken is the best way to spend your money. This is absolutely true, but can be daunting for new cooks. Now that you’ve brought your local/organic/expensive chicken home, how the heck do you cut it? The Green Gourmets are here to help!

Chicken “Break it Down” 101

  1. Rinse your chicken and remove any parts from the inner cavity (sometimes found in a bag). You can save these parts for stock or soup if you like!
  2. Stand the chicken up on your cutting board and place your knife on the right side of the backbone. *Note: You can tell where the backbone is since it usually has the little neck flap hanging down. If you still can’t tell, put your hand on the outside and feel. The backbone side is hard and the breast side is meaty. Cut along the backbone to the bottom of the chicken.
  3. Repeat on the left side of the backbone. If you are nervous about using a knife (or your knife isn’t sharp enough), you can use kitchen shears to cut it out. You can save the backbone in the freezer for your stock.
  4. Flip your chicken over to the other side. Cut off the leg and thigh in the natural divide between the bottom of the breast and the top of the thigh. Repeat with the other side.
  5. You may also choose to separate the leg from the thigh. There is a natural juncture at the top of the leg, where the leg meets the thigh. 
  6. You may choose to remove the wing (you can save this for later to make buffalo wings if you like!)
  7. Cut the breast away from the breast bone. You can choose to leave the breast in one piece or cut in half. If cutting in half, angle the knife across the breast about 1 1/2 inches below the thickest portion. 


This will give you 8 pieces: 2 legs, 2 thighs, 4 breasts (or 2 breasts and 2 breast/wing pieces)

Give yourself a pat on the back (after you wash your hands), since this is a great basic butchery skill to have. Stay tuned this week for recipes that use the whole chicken and specific chicken pieces and don’t forget you read about it on Green Gourmets!


3 Responses to “It’s Chicken Week- Break it Down!”

  1. Non-Gourmet J February 21, 2011 at 9:52 AM #

    Perfect timing! Earth Fare had a coupon last week for a free dinner for four, which included a whole chicken! It is sitting in my fridge mocking me because it knows I don’t know what to do with it. Not anymore! I will tackle that bird tonight…


  2. Amanda February 21, 2011 at 6:56 PM #

    I love that you shared this – thanks! I can’t believe I havne’t thought of this as a way to save money – durh (head slap).


  1. It’s Chicken Week- The Perfect Braise « The Green Gourmets - February 24, 2011

    […] 3 lb chicken broken down into 8 pieces, (need help Breaking Down?) […]

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