Detroit Eats

Musings of A Detroit Based Food Fanatic

Techniques 101 –Breaking Down a Chicken to 8 Pieces

with 5 comments

    ( In tribute to Jack Ubaldi)

    Many years ago I attended the New York Restaurant School. This was my first experience with formal culinary education. It was a tremendous experience that set my course in life.

     Amongst the instructors was a gentleman who taught butchering named Jack Ubaldi. He was a great man! If you click on the link you can learn more about this well known butcher, restaurateur, author and teacher. Under his tutelage I learned how to break down a side of beef,pork, lamb. How to break poultry down and, something no chef I have come across knows how to do, remove the bones from a chicken while leaving the skin and carcass intact ( I will cover this in another post!). These are skills I use to this day!

   One of Jack Ubaldi’s best known traits was to bring a bottle of wine with him to class. I remember fondly Jack giving me the keys to his locker and being sent for the wine because it was not enough to learn how to butcher, we had to learn how to cook what we cut!. We would cook a Newport Steak or Denver Ribs or whatever we worked with as part of our class.

     Butchering is a lost art. As much as the American Culinary Federation  does to keep standards high for skills required to be a Certified Chef, there are a large number of practicing culinarians who call themselves Chef who have no concept of how to break down a side of beef into quarters and then usable cuts or could explain the confirmation of various animals. This is due in large part to the prevalence of portion cut beef and chicken that has eliminated the opportunity for Chef’s to use this skill.

     One of the easiest tasks of butchering involves breaking down Chicken into individual pieces. The process starts by removing the wings from the carcass.

chicken 1

chicken 2

The second is to remove the leg and thigh and then separating the leg from the thigh.

chicken 3 chicken 6 chicken 7

The most important thing to remember is to use the path of least resistance ( Note the center picture where there is a separation of the darker meat –leg, and the lighter flesh – thigh). This is where you want to make your cut. Your cuts should be through the cartilage instead of the bone.

chicken 8 chicken 9   chicken 10

Lastly the breast should be separated from the back and either left bone in or ( in a further step) made boneless.It can the be split into 2 pieces through the central breast plate (which in a young chicken is cartilage).

chicken 11

Bon Apetit


Written by Ed Schenk

May 22, 2010 at 2:17 pm

5 Responses

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. I am making a recipe later this week that calls to cut the chicken into 8 pieces. I’ve been staring at that recipe for days trying to figure out how I’m supposed to do this. Thanks!


    June 15, 2010 at 10:58 am

    • I apologize if I am late with this. Separate the wings and then the leg/thighs from the carcass. Furthur separate the leg from the thigh by making a cut through the cartilage ( approx where the fat can be seen separate from ther meat). Cut the back off by making a cut through the small bones that exist just below the breast and tear,or cut, out the back. Split the remaining piece through the central cartilage ( in the middle of the remaining piece). This will give you 2 legs, 2 thighs, 2 wings and 2 breasts.
      Let me know how you make out!

      Ed Schenk

      June 21, 2010 at 10:12 pm

  2. […] CLICK HERE TO READ THE REST OF THIS ARTICLE [Translate] June 1, 2010 | Tags: Butchering, chicken, cut down a chicken, detroit eats, Food Experts, technique | No Comments » […]

  3. Great post. Now let’s fry that chicken up! 😉


    May 23, 2010 at 5:38 pm

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: