It is important to use your sharpest knife when butchering a raw chicken. It is not true that blunt knives are safer than sharp ones, because they are more likely to slip and you don’t want to be forcing a blunt knife through raw chicken and slip. Ensure you choose a good chicken – some yellow under the skin is chicken fat which is fine to leave in there, but it can also be removed.

The First Things to Do

Clear an area to cut up the chicken, choosing a chopping board you don’t mind raw meat on. It is fine to use plastic or wood – as long as you wash it in hot, soapy water afterwards. Have the chopping board as close to the sink as you can or, better yet, where the dish drainer is. Another word about safety – take care with raw chicken juice, since handling the juices incorrectly or spattering it on different surfaces can cause illness. Ensure you clean up well afterwards too.

If you buy your chicken from the supermarket, it will probably come in a plastic bag which the factory packaged it in. Put the bird in the sink without opening the plastic. If you only have a single sink, fill it with hot, soapy water and put the bird on a cutting board instead. Open the plastic wrapping and let any juices run down the sink. Check the chicken all over for noticeable dirt or feathers, and also for giblets, lumps of fat or skin tucked into the cavity, all of which should be removed before you proceed.

Time to Begin!

Begin with the legs. Take one in your hand and feel along it to find the indented joint between leg and thighbone. Cut at this joint and the leg will cut apart easily. Now follow the thigh up the back to find another indented joint. You can cut through that to separate the back and thigh. Now flip the chicken over and take a wing in your hand. There are 3 joints in chicken wings but people don’t normally eat the end joint so you can either save it for a future soup recipe or leave it on to act as a handle for people eating the wing.

Feel to find the joint near the breast and cut it there or cut a little extra meat from the breast to get some extra chicken meat on the wing. Now you only have the body of the bird left to work on. Insert the knife through the chicken body, moving it from side to side. If you can’t see the hole in the chicken body, check again because there might be some skin covering it. Cut up and down to remove the back from the breast, carrying on until you come to the breastbone. Now pull the chicken apart using your hands.

The Final Steps

Freeze the back of the chicken for soups or stews since there isn’t much meat on it. De-bone the front of the bird and cut it into pieces. Feel along the bone for an indentation, then cut down and up, to get the wishbone out. Split the best in half or quarters. Clean up anywhere the raw chicken touched using hot, soapy water. Chill or freeze the raw chicken until you’re going to cook it. Don’t give any pieces (not bones or fat) to your pet because it’s not good for them.

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