At CCSF, we go through a lot of chicken. And I mean it – A LOT. It’s no wonder that chicken is the most consumed animal protein in the US. Back in the meat lab, there was always a group working on butchering chicken. Sometimes we’d go through 4 cases of chicken just to come in the next day to learn that it’s already been used up. It did get rather monotonous after a while, but to keep things interesting my group would compete to see who could carve up the most.
On the flip side, I can’t go back to purchasing pre-cut chicken at the store. Why pay $4.99 per pound for chicken breast when I can get a whole chicken at less than half that price? It literally can take less than a minute to take one apart – and cleanly, too. The carcass is just a bonus for making chicken stock with leftover veggie scraps. If you know me, I’m a huge fan of Alton Brown and his show Good Eats. The episode called “Fry Hard II” has a demonstration on how to do butcher your own chicken. It does take a little practice, but the key is to use a sharp knife to get clean cuts.
As an added chicken bonus, here are trussed up chickens ready for roasting! Trussing gives a nicer presentation as it holds the bird together more tightly throughout cooking. It also cooks more evenly as it is now in a tighter, more condensed package, without the legs and wings flailing about. You may think that trussing is to fussy with the needles and twine, but it’s actually quite simple to do. You really just need some cotton twine and a pair of scissors and you’re set. There’s a tutorial here which is sort of how I was taught – except backwards, in that I tie the legs first.
Another neat trick with chicken is airline breasts. I’m told it it gets its name from being served this way on airplanes (back in the day when it was a classy way to travel). It’s the same thing as a regular chicken breast except you leave the drummie on. To get a nice shape, you can make a little boat out of parchment paper to hold it intact while it bakes in the oven. You can’t tell from the photo, but this version here was stuffed with a spinach stuffing.