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Before

Before

After

After

Grad school’s gettin’ me down, man. No one told me I would have to work. (Ok, they did; I was in denial.) I didn’t cook ANYTHING last week. At least nothing that counts. I made pasta with pesto, pasta with tomato sauce, a variety of burritos, and sandwiches. Blah. It turns out to be harder than I thought to motivate myself to cook without my trusty sous-chef around. Pout.

You know what else is gettin’ me down? I haven’t had internet at my house for 18 DAYS. Who knew I’d turn out to be so horribly boring without it? I come home at night and just… stare at the wall.

On Sunday (sheesh, a whole week ago) I decided to do something about this depressing situation. I would liven up my weekend by cutting up a whole chicken (for the first time), and telling you how I did it. I didn’t realize that the pictures would turn out to be utterly disgusting. So, consider this your warning: viewing pictures of a chicken carcass in various stages of dismemberment is not recommended… for anyone.

I had plans to follow up with a tasty recipe and a picture of the finished product. I did cook the chicken on the grill, and it was delicious. It was very simple: I just shoved basil leaves under the skin and drenched everything in lemon juice, salt, and pepper. There’s pretty much no way you can go wrong when chicken skin is involved. Mmm…. chicken skin. Unfortunately, my housemates and I gobbled it up before I took any pictures. So all I have for you today is pictures of raw chicken. I’m very sorry.

I followed the diagrams in How to Cook Everything. For the most part, they were fairly straightforward, but there were a few ambiguous instructions. Hopefully I can make those a little clearer.

Butchering a Chicken

Don’t forget to save the giblets and back to make stock with!

1. Unwrap your lovely chicken. Rinse it and pat dry with paper towels. Reach inside the cavity and pull out the giblets (heart, lungs, liver… all that good stuff). Sometimes these are already in a bag inside the chicken; I got lucky this time.

Rinsed, giblets removed.

Rinsed, giblets removed.

2. Pull out the wing and cut through the breast near the wing joint. You don’t have to be exactly at the joint; the worst that can happen is that you’ll have a meatier wing. (Repeat for the other wing.)

3. Hold up a leg and slice through the skin between the breast and the leg. Then find the joint between the thigh and the rest of the chicken and cut through it. This part is a bit tricky; I had to flip the bird over a couple times before I found it. And I still didn’t find it for one of the legs. You’ll know you’re cutting through the joint if it’s easy; cutting through the bone is hard. (Repeat for the other leg.)

4. The next step is to “cut the back away from the breast.” I was a little annoyed when I got to that instruction: it’s a bit vague, Mark. Nevertheless, it turned out to be easier than I thought, because it doesn’t really require a lot of precision. Just stretch the two sections apart (that’s easy enough), and cut through the stuff that’s holding them together.

Creepy chicken-carcass jaws of death. The breast half is on the right.

Creepy chicken-carcass jaws of death. The breast half is on the right.

5. Cut the breast in half. It’s easier to work from the bony side, so you can see the hardest stuff you have to cut through.

6. You’re done! Unless you want to split the wings and legs. If you do, just cut through the joints. Easy peasy. You can also cut off the wing tips to use them for stock.

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