Monday, August 30, 2010


I have to admit, trussing and breaking down a chicken can be tricky, yet it is a dying art form.  With the invention of the ready-pack chicken parts package and elastic type strings butchers use to wind the bird into a proper shape for roasting, there is no need for the home cook to know this right??? WRONG!  They charge you for that.  Buy a whole chicken and fabricate it at home, save yourself some money in these trying economic times.  In this blog I will show you how to truss a chicken the proper way, resulting in an evenly cooked, moist chicken/turkey/duck/pheasant /quail/game hen etc.... ALSO I will show you how to break down the chicken into parts for frying, grilling, roasting.  I would like to thank my sister Jeana for helping out and taking these pictures. She was paid in a Netflix movie (ZombieLand) Tecate beer, and the resulting Chicken and dumplings from the leftover chicken.

Before anything I make sure my knife is sharp, my work surface is clean and my cutting board is stable and does not move (I put a damp towel under it).  I trim a bit of the neck skin off and the inside flaps of extra skin in between the legs.  Now we can start.
Tuck the wings behind the back as if it were relaxing on a beach.

Both wings are tucked behind the back, now lay the chicken down and cut a long length of butchers twine.

Place the twine under the chicken just at the "elbows".  Leave even lengths on both sides of the bird.

Pull the twine into the "armpits"

Wrap the twine around the wings once.
Pull the twine to the inside of the legs so as not to disturb the breast meat.
Pull the twine to the outside of the legs.
Make a simple knot.
Make sure the knot is tight and the legs cross over one another.
Double knot it to make sure it won't slip while roasting.
Trim the excess twine and there you have it!  A perfectly trussed chicken.  I happen to like this way because it does not cut into the breast meat and leaves all the parts intact and very juicy.  When roasting, remember to season the outside AND the inside of the cavity with salt and pepper. 

The main trick to the successful fabrication of a bird of any type is having a sharp knife and knowing where the joints are.  There is nothing worse than dulling your knife out one some bone.  If you can locate the joints on the bird, cutting through the cartilage is quite simple. 

Lying the chicken face down, pull the wing taught.  Locate the bulge from the joint.  With the tip of your knife pointing away from the chicken, make an angular cut through the cartilage

It should be a nice and straight cut with no jagged bone.

With the chicken on its back, pull the leg and make a light cut through the skin on the inside of the thigh so that the meat is exposed.

Pull the body away from the leg. The ball and socket joint are now visible.

Grab the leg and thigh firmly and rotate your wrist outward to disjoint the leg, make a cut to detach the meat from the body.

This is the whole leg. On the inside of the leg you will find a fat line that runs like a border from the thigh to leg.  With your finger, gently feel for the joint of where the two meet.  Make a cut to separate them if desired.

Now that the legs and wing sections are removed, we can get to the breast meat.  Feel where the keel bone is (the center of the bird), Place your knife on the outside, but very close to the keel bone.

Make a straight cut towards the back. As you reach near the neck, flair the cut outward.

Gently and carefully carve the breast fillet away from the carcass.  In this picture the breast fillet is seen with the inner fillet or tenderloin still attached.

Repeat on the other side.

I turn the chicken the other way so I am back to working on the same side as before.  Visible are the flared cuts at the neck.  we make these cuts to avoid bones.

There you have it!  The completely fabricated chicken.  Now you can do many things with one bird.  Roasted leg quarters, butterflied and grilled chicken breast, barbecued wings.  Wait...what about the carcass?...I am a firm believer in not throwing away any part of the gave its life for your sustenance, the least you could do is use its whole body.  SO Roast the carcass on top of some mirepoix (see last post) until all are dark brown, place into a pot with water and a bit of marsala wine and ye shall have one hell of a chicken broth (which can be frozen)

I hope this has been helpful and informative to all of my loyal readers.  Thanks for joining me!

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