If you are a vegan or vegetarian or squeamish, do not read this post. It has pictures of a dead chicken being cut up into little bits.
You know, it’s weird. You get the most foodie and cost-conscious ladies in the world who, when faced with a recipe that calls for chicken, nip straight into Waitrose and buy a packet of two chicken breasts.
I am not being judgemental – ooh no, for I mostly do this too. But there is another way, friends; and with a bit of practice, I promise you that cutting up a whole chicken will take you less than three minutes, and for the price of two chicken breasts you get the breasts, the rest of the chicken AND a sexy pot of homemade stock as well. Mmmm, yummy stock.
Of course, you don’t then have to spend the whole week eating variations of chicken – just stick the drumsticks and wings in the freezer, and pull ‘em out as you need to.
So, how about this for your mid-year’s resolution: join me in never buying a pack of chicken breasts again. Radical, yes?
What you will need:
A long, sharp, heavy bladed knife
A chopping board
A plate to put the chicken pieces onto
A chicken, obviously.
Place your chicken on the chopping board, breast side up. If there is any string tying the legs up, cut this off. Untuck the legs.
Pull the leg of the chicken away from the rest of the bird. With your knife, cut through the skin that attached the thigh to the body.
Now, pull the leg firmly away from the body, and give it a little twist. This will pull the thigh out of the joint. Cut between the hip socket and the thigh. Voila – here is a chicken leg!
Do the same for the other leg, and pop each leg on a plate (note: if you wish to separate the thigh from the leg, just find the joint between the two and cut firmly through it. I usually keep it as a whole leg, though, and just serve it roasted whole).
Now for the wings (my boyfriend’s favourite!) Take hold of the wing, and cut through the skin over the joint. Pull firmly to dislocate the joint, and cut firmly through the joint itself.
Repeat with the other wing, and pop them on the plate.
Now you have one weird looking chicken!
Starting at the tail end of the chicken, cut through the body horizontally as far as the shoulder joint. Keep the knife parallel to the backbone, and cut through the bones of the ribs.
Now repeat this on the opposite side.
Now for the final bit – pull apart the breast from the back and cut through the shoulder joints. Firmly cut through the length of the breastbone and separate the breast meat from the bone.
Cut in half, et voilà! The two chicken breasts you wanted in the first place! 🙂
Finally, you can just individually wrap each joint and pop it in the freezer, and take out to defrost the morning of the day that you want to eat them.
Step Five: How to make the stock:
What you are left with, the carcass, is perfect for making stock. To do this, just pop the carcass in a saucepan and throw in any odds and ends of vegetables you have lying around in the fridge – roughly chopped carrots, leeks, a bit of garlic, onion – really, whatever you have, it all works well!
Fill the pan up to the top with cold water, then pop on the hob and bring to the boil. Turn the heat down, and leave to simmer gently for an hour at minimum – the longer the better. (This smells lovely when it’s cooking, so you can quite happily leave it on whilst you are eating your supper.)
When you are done, pass the stock through the finest sieve you have, and strain it into tupperware or freezer bags to put in the freezer (stock can also be frozen in ice cube trays, if you want to be able to just use a little at a time).
Your stock will keep quite happily in the freezer for about four months, so try to use it before then.
And that’s it! You’ve just stripped a chicken and made some amazing stock, all for the price of a packet of chicken breasts. So, next time you find a nice recipe that calls for two chicken breasts, you can shun Waitrose and just reach straight into your freezer.
You are SUCH a Domestic Goddess.
See you tomorrow!