How to use the whole chicken

Instead of paying more for chicken breasts and legs, it makes much more sense to start with a whole chicken. You can pan-fry the breasts, make a chicken soup or broth, then do curry, coq au vin or fricassee with the legs. Nothing wasted, everything gained.

Take a medium-sized chicken that weighs about 1.5kg, preferably with its giblets. Turn the bird on its side and hold it with your left hand, up by the knuckle of the leg. With a sharp, heavy chopping knife, cut the leg at the joint near the breast. Pull the leg forward to break the joint then make a final cut to release it. Do the same with the other leg.

Chop off the knuckle joint with the thickest end of a heavy chopping knife, pull the skin away from the flesh with your hands and put to one side. Cut the leg in half at the joint so you have a thigh and a drumstick. Remove the thigh bone with the point of a knife and put the bone with the others.

Push the meat on the fattest part of the drumstick up the bone so that you reveal a couple of centimetres of bone. Chop off these 2 centimetres of bone then push down the thinner end of the drumstick to reveal the other piece of bone. You should now have a neatly trimmed drumstick and a boned thigh.

Cut the wings off by holding the bird up by the wing tip and cutting it away at the nearest joint to the breast. Chop the first joint that was nearest the breast just on the joint and chop the pointed wing tip off again just at the joint so that you have three pieces. Put these and the three from the other wing into a bowl with the knuckle joints.

Remove the breasts by cutting either side of the central breastbone with a sharp knife then carefully pulling the breast away from the bone with your left hand while you run the point of the knife along the bone to detach the flesh. Pull away the under fillets, the flesh underneath the breast, and put them with the legs. Remove the skin from the breasts by just pulling it away from the flesh.

Cut any skin from along the back bone on the carcass and put it with the rest of the skin. I don’t want to see any of the chicken wasted so plan to make a salad with the skin. Store the skin in a container in the fridge or freeze it with the liver if you’re not using it straightaway.

Chop the carcass into small pieces and wash it under a cold tap for a few minutes until the water runs clean. Just to recap here you should have a neat looking drumstick and a boned thigh, 2 breasts and 2 underfillets, a pile of skin and some bones that are being washed. Depending on when you are going to eat the following dishes, you can freeze the appropriate joints until you need them.

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