How to Break Down a Chicken
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If you enjoy buying boneless, skinless or bone-in, skin-on chicken parts, read no further. I understand the convenience.
That said, when I have the time, I buy chickens whole. Here’s why: while it is convenient to buy a pack of thighs or drumsticks or boneless breasts, a whole chicken gives me so much more: two meals for two (legs one night; breasts another) plus a quart of chicken stock (at the very least) plus 3 little snacks: 2 chicken tenders and a liver. Yum.
Does the thought of dealing with a whole chicken discourage you? Don’t let it. With a little practice, you’ll soon discover it’s no big deal. It’s actually quite rewarding. And if you’re organized, in under five minutes, one meal will be minutes from completion, another will be prepped for tomorrow, and your chicken will be in pieces, its carcass simmering on the stovetop promising you a batch of stock tastier and healthier than anything you could buy at the store.
The key is being organized. This is how I set up my station before I start hacking:
• 2 cutting boards
• 1 sharp knife
• trash can nearby with lid removed
• ziplock back nearby, opened, with top part folded over for easy access
• stock pot
• mallet (If you want to pound the breasts to make something like these tarragon chicken breasts.)
• plastic wrap (If you want to pound the breasts.)
You’ll notice in the video that I throw bits of the chicken in the stockpot. When I’m through breaking it down, I fill the pot with water, bring it to a boil, and let it simmer for about 3 hours. That’s it. Making homemade chicken stock is no big deal. If you have onions, carrots, celery to add to the pot, great. If you don’t, don’t sweat it.
So you have a game plan now, right? Buy a chicken. Cut it up. Make stock. Serve broiled tarragon breasts for dinner one night, chicken legs baked with white wine, olive oil and Parmigiano Reggiano another. Fry up that liver for a snack. And cook up those little tenders to add to a salad or a sandwich.
You can do it. 💪💪💪