How to bone a whole chicken

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How to bone a whole chicken
There are many ways to debone a chicken. (Getty Thinkstock)

There are many ways to debone a chicken. This method - used by many chefs and butchers - is perhaps the easiest and fastest.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Whole chicken
  • Steel sharpener
  • Boning knives
  • Cutting boards

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  1. 1

    Cut off wings at the first joint, so the breasts each have the first wing bone, called the drumette, attached.

  2. 2

    Make a cut in the skin between leg and body.

  3. 3

    Set the knife down, and hold the chicken with the body in one hand and the leg and thigh in the other.

  4. 4

    Pull the leg toward you so the thigh bone pops completely out of its socket.

  5. 5

    Hold the chicken by the leg and use the knife to cut through the flesh between the thigh bone and the body socket. The drumstick and thigh will now be separated.

  6. 6

    Repeat steps 2 through 5 with the other leg.

  7. 7

    Once you've removed the legs, lay the chicken on its back so the breasts are upright and facing you.

  8. 8

    Feel for the breastbone at the very top that separates the two breasts.

  9. 9

    Make a long incision on both sides of the breastbone. These cuts should follow the breastbone for its entire length.

  10. 10

    Beneath the breastbone, on both sides, is the rib cage and wishbone. Use the tip of the knife to follow the rib cage and carefully cut away the breasts from the ribs. Hold the breasts by the drumette and start cutting at the thickest part of the breast by the drumette, working your way toward the thin end of the breast.

  11. 11

    When you've removed both breasts, turn the chicken frame over so the back is exposed.

  12. 12

    Cut out the little nugget of tender meat, called the oyster, behind the hollow of the hip socket in the back.

  13. 13

    To cut out the leg and thigh bones, lay each leg on the cutting board so the meatier part faces down.

  14. 14

    Use the knife to cut down to the bone, then make a deep split that follows the bone for its entire length. Use the tip of the knife to carefully cut the flesh away from the bone.

  15. 15

    Save all bones, including wing tips, for stock.

Tips and warnings

  • Use a sharp boning knife for easier cutting. Try not to use a serrated knife.
  • Fresh poultry is extremely perishable - store it in the refrigerator at all times when you're not working with it.
  • Wash all equipment and cutting surfaces before and after handling poultry, to avoid contaminating other foods.

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