Preparing Poultry: How to Joint a Chicken
It is cheaper to buy a whole chicken and joint it yourself than to buy prepared joints, and you end up with pieces such as the back which can be turned into stock.
Jointing takes only a few minutes with a knife, and even less if you have poultry shears.
1. First remove the legs. Pull each leg in turn away from the chicken body and cut down to the thigh joint (the top joint where the leg joins the body). Twist the thigh to break the joint, and cut through it to detach the leg.
Cut each leg in half through the ‘knee’ joint to separate the thigh from the drumstick, cutting along the thin strip of fat that you will see on the underneath of the joint.
2. Pull the wing on one side away from the body. Slice through the top joint where the wing joins the body, to separate the wing. Repeat on the other side. If you wish to remove the wing tips, use a heavy-bladed knife.
3. Hold the top of the chicken firmly with one hand, and cut horizontally across the body from the tail end towards the neck to separate the breast from the back. Use a larger knife or poultry shears to cut through the rib bones.
4. Place the breast piece, skin side up, on a chopping board and cut down on one side of the breast bone to divide the two breasts. If necessary, tap the back of the knife with a heavy weight to break through the bone.
The chicken is now jointed into six good eating pieces: two drumsticks, two thighs and two breasts. The rest of the carcass will make good stock, although the wings are also very good roasted in the oven until crispy.
Stuff only the neck end of a chicken or turkey (above left)-if you fill the whole cavity the stuffing may not cook all the way through. You’ll be able to slice the stuffing together with the breast meat (above right) when the bird is cooked.
Fillers for flavour
Before roasting a chicken or turkey, place an unpeeled whole apple or peeled whole onion in the cavity, together with a few sprigs of fresh herbs. The flesh will be moist and the juices full of flavour.
Next time you want a tasty coating for chicken joints and you’re in a hurry, try a packet of stuffing mix. It’s ready seasoned, so just dip the pieces of chicken in beaten egg, then toss them in the stuffing mix until well coated, and bake or fry as usual.
To pep up a plain roast chicken, slide lemon slices, fresh herbs, seasoned butter or sliced mushrooms under the skin before cooking. Slide your fingers in under the skin at the neck end and loosen the skin all the way down the breast. Roast the bird as usual, and you’ll have a dish that not only looks good, but one with a delicious flavour as well.
• Alternatively, make small cuts in the flesh with the point of a knife and push in slices of garlic to flavour the meat.