We’re going to learn about cutting up a fresh frying chicken today. Well, actually, I’d like to give some instruction and aid you with a video of someone doing it so you can get a good “feel” for how to handle the knife and the bird.
I learned how to cup up a fryer when I worked in a small grocery store that had a fresh meat case. Al, the butcher, taught me a lot about the various cuts of beef and pork and how to save money by using a fryer instead of buying the pieces already cut up. Since I was a young mother trying to save pennies, I was happy to watch him go through three or four chickens before I finally “got it.”
Some of the good reasons to learn and employ this technique:
- Money saved per pound on chicken
- Better use of the chicken parts, when done wisely
- You get parts you like which aren’t found in “selected” packaging
- Getting “back to basics”
- A sense of pride in knowing a new kitchen skill
Let’s start with the money you save. It’s not going to make you rich, but when you’re trying to save any way you can, it helps. I mean, you shop sales, use coupons, and want BOGO offers, right? Well, there you go.
As for better use of those pieces, I’ll explain a little more of that later, but when the family likes both dark and white meat, you have it in one neat little package. Those parts you enjoy like the liver, the heart or gizzard are there too.
You get a taste without having to buy a whole package of them, unless you want to do that. But even then, they’re usually frozen and most of us don’t prepare a whole meal of them at once. When you learn to cut up a whole fryer, you have the skill of a chef and a sort of “pioneer” attitude. (without having to catch the bird and pluck its feathers!)
Don’t worry about how much time you won’t save by cutting up your own chicken. This video of Alex from The Food Network shows her doing this is just over 2 minutes. You’ll get that good at it too.
I would add to her instructions that, when you cut those wings off first, be aware of the bones/joints attached to the wing portion. Once you make that cut into the skin, gently bend the wing away from the body of the chicken and then you can slice through. It’s mostly cartilage which gives way pretty easily. Same goes for the joint between the leg and thigh, which is something she mentions. Al taught me to feel for it with my finger; there would be a dip to slice into and then I could find the joint/bone. Always use a sharp, good quality knife.
Isn’t this fun and educational?
All right, now we get to some other practical considerations. You say, “My family isn’t into those internal organs or neck and back pieces.” That’s okay. They can be used, along with the carcass of the chicken, for making something you may or may not have heard of: bone broth. It’s something you make which yields a rich broth you can’t find in the store. “Why does that matter?” you ask. Because homemade broth has ingredients of which you know the origin. You don’t have to read the label.
Rather than type out my own recipe for bone broth, here’s a broth recipe which can be used for either beef or chicken. It’s very close to how I do it. Try a turkey carcass following your holiday meal too; it’s already roasted. (You may have to break the bones apart to get them in.) Beef bones, if not already roasted, work best when browned first for more flavor. Here’s another slow cooker recipe which uses slightly different ingredients. I like the idea of using a slow cooker because most of us want to use time wisely as well as using our money wisely. Besides, you don’t have to stand guard over it and cooking that way fills the house with great aromas.
Some great reasons for making broth:
- Using every part of the meat you paid good money for
- Saving money by not having to buy packaged broth
- Knowing exactly what’s in your broth
- Having it handy when you want it
- Nutrients from the bones you wouldn’t normally get
- Getting back to basics!
- A new kitchen skill!
You can freeze broth in containers for use later. I use quart containers because that’s what I would have been buying anyway. Your call. Some cooks also can theirs. And don’t miss these excellent tips for making broth which come from the experts.