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How to Carve a Chicken

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Impress your guests with these awesome carving tips.


When just learning how to cook, some tasks seem more intimidating than others. For some beginner cooks, the thought of carving a whole chicken seems like a job for only the most skilled chefs, but that’s just not the case. Sure, it may take a little practice, but once you’ve done it a couple of times, you’ll wonder why it ever seemed complicated in the first place.


A Sharp Knife


You won't be able to carve a chicken with a dull knife, at least not very well, and remember that a dull knife is way more dangerous than a good, sharp one. A good chef’s knife should be in every home cook’s kitchen drawer. You will also need a stable carving surface, like a flat cutting board. If your board tends to slide around on the kitchen counter, put a dishtowel underneath it to keep it from slipping. You don’t want the chicken moving around beneath your knife while you’re carving it.

The First Cut


Always start with a leg, since that will give you the room you need to get to the breast meat. Slice the section between the breast and the leg meat and pull the leg away from the chicken, pushing it downwards towards the cutting board. You will need to cut the thigh bone away from the body, pressing down in between the thigh and hip joint. You now have a whole chicken leg separate from the main body of the bird.

Slicing the Breast


Now you have a clear section of breast meat. You can either make slices directly off the bone, or slice the entire breast off and plate separately. You do this by cutting directly along the breastbone in the middle of the bird, getting your knife all the way down towards the cutting board, removing the entire breast.

Once you’ve cut the breast away, the wing will still remain, which will cut away easily, much like the leg portion. Repeat the process on the other side of the chicken to complete the carving. If you like, you can also cut the drumstick away from the thigh by slicing through the joint.

Raw Chicken


While it will be easier to carve a cooked chicken, you can do the exact same thing with a raw chicken, though you will need to be very careful about cleaning up any raw chicken juices that remain behind. When cutting up raw chicken, things can get a little messy so wipe down every surface thoroughly with an antibacterial cleanser when you’re all done.

What About the Carcass?


After you have beautifully carved this bird, what do you do with the carcass? Don’t throw it away! You’ve come this far in your cooking prowess, so keep going. Put those bones in a stockpot along with chunked-up onion, carrots and celery. Fill the pot up with water so the chicken is submerged and let the pot simmer away on the stove for several hours. Strain and you have perfect chicken stock for your next soup or gravy!

More Chicken on Tablespoon


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