Chicken Jointing

Our ethos here is all about transferable skills, knowledge and techniques – why take the trouble to learn just one recipe when, with a little extra effort, you can learn a principle which underpins dozens, even hundreds of similar recipes.

Knowing how to joint a chicken is a good example. It may not seem that crucial at first, but it’s a very useful thing to know, even if you don’t do it often.

All you need is a whole chicken.

  • Remove any string, along with any giblets or anything else in the cavity
  • Then cut off the pygostyle
  • Flip the chicken over and cut a cross shape into the back, the long incision running down the spine, and the short one just above the oysters
  • Flip the bird back over
  • Separate the legs from the body by slicing through the skin underneath the thigh
  • The muscle is already separated, but you may have to cut through a tendon or two
  • Bend the leg all the way back until the ball joint pops open, then repeat on the other side
  • Flip it again, and release the skin on this section, then use your fingers to peel it away, using the knife in a filleting motion to get through the connective tissue if necessary
  • Once the oysters are peeled away from the body, you should see a natural dividing line running through the ball joint you just popped open
  • Cut all the way through
  • Next, remove the breast fillets
  • Make an incision right next to the breastbone – again, it won’t be very deep because it will meet the ribcage
  • Use poultry shears or a sturdy pair of scissors to cut along the incision you just made, cutting through the ribs and the breast itself
  • Do the same along the side of the bird, this time following the natural fat line visible just under the skin.
  • Follow this line all the way to the neck, removing a breast and wing in one go
  • Repeat the second step for the other side, but not the initial breastbone incision. There is no need for this, since the breastbone will come off along with the ribs.
  • Cut along the same line of fat – at this point it’s easy to see how this is a natural divide between the cuts of chicken
  • To separate the thigh from the drumstick, locate the joint and cut through
  • Trim off any skin or tissue below the line of fat we followed earlier.
  • Then cut through the shoulder joint – it’s pretty obvious where it is, but again, it may be easier to see with the skin side down
  • Now find the breast with the breastbone, and duplicate the initial incision we made on the other side, when the chicken was still whole
  • Use light, sweeping strokes along the bone, pulling back the meat with your fingers as you go
  • Separate it from the breastbone first, then change direction and work forwards, separating it from the ribs
  • As you approach the top of the breast and the severed wing joint, there will be some tendons and cartilage to get through
  • Use a combination of slicing and pulling with your hands to separate the fillet neatly.
  • The very last bit to cut through is the wishbone, which tends to stay stubbornly attached to the fillet
  • Just cut it off, along with the cartilage surrounding it, and discard
  • Do the same with the other breast