Jointing a bird

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A bird has a few bits to it, but fortunately all birds have the same bits. Some of the best are inside the bird and most prized is the liver. When buying a bird you will often find a plastic bag inside containing the offal and neck; these are great for making stock. The hen of any bird has the plumpest breasts. The breasts are guarded by the wings and above that you will findthe opening to the neck- remember: the wing end is the neck end; the other end is the cavity. Stuffing goes in the neck end, howeveryou can put flavourings in the cavity. It is much more economicalto buy the whole bird, joint it yourself, and get the most out of it, rather than buying the portions in a foam tray. Learning to joint a chicken is one of the most useful skills a cook can have and is easy with a bit of practice.

To do it, place the beard breast up on a board. Pull one wing out and slice through the joint half way down the wing – this is known as the chicken shank. Repeat on the other side.

Take each leg and remove the knuckle by cutting clean though the joint – you will be left with legs in the classic drumstick shape. With the parson’s nose pointing towards you, take a leg in each hand – this needs to be a firm hold, not a flimsy attempt! Pull the legs away from the birdso that they stretch out but do not snapor tear the skin. Use the knife to cut the skin between the breasts and the legs.

jointing a chicken

Pinch the skin at the cavity end together, holding it closed. Make a cut above the pinch but underneath the point of the breastbone and follow the breast line along to meet the cut you made above the leg. Repeat on the other side.

Hold the breast firmly from above with one hand. Pick the chicken up and rest it back on the wings and, with the other hand, pull the legs down firmly, snapping the backbone. Cut throughthe area where it naturally snapped. You now have a crown (the two breasts joined togetheron the bone) plus the legs and thighs attached to the backbone.

Take a leg in each hand, skin-side towards the board, and snap the legs towards each other – this dislocates the legs from the backbone. Cut each leg off at the thigh along the natural split.

joining a bird 1

Sit the crown so the wing joints face you and lift the skin to reveal the wishbone. Cut in between the flesh and the wishbone in a neat v-shape so that you can pull the wishbone out. Stretch the skin tightly across the top and mould the breast back into shape. Following the line of the bone, run the knife through to the bone and let the weight of the breast help it fall off the bone while you encourage its release with your knife. This is easiest using a quick flicking motion direct away from you.

When the breast has come away, hold it with the wing down and cut through the wing joint. Repeat on the other side and you are done.