Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Cutting Up a Chicken with Scissors - Shear Genius?

This video demo, of a chicken being broken down with kitchen shears, was down with the hopes that some of you will start buying fresh whole chickens, instead of previously frozen chicken parts.

Everyone's trying to save a few dollars at the store these days, and what better way than buying a whole chicken; always cheaper than the same amount of chicken parts. If you haven't been buying organic, free-range chicken, because it costs more, this new skill will allow you to get a healthier whole bird for about the same price as the regular package of pieces.

I'm assuming that most people have a bit more experience using a pair of scissors, than a razor-sharp boning knife. So, this method of butchering a chicken is much less intimidating for obvious reasons.

Hopefully for some, the scissors will act like training-wheels on the path to eventually using a knife for this procedure. Sturdy scissor do work nicely, but nothing can match a boning knife for maximum yield. Enjoy!

Photo Credits: chicken guy (c) Fuzzy Gerdes; goatee (c) I'm Claude; chicken case (c) jem


Anonymous said...

Thanks for the lesson!

Quick question: what do you mean by "maximum yield" regarding using a boning knife? Aren't you working with the same amount of chicken either way? Is there an optimal shape to each piece that you can't get with a pair of scissors (like you mentioned in the video with the leg)? Or are you referring to the knife's precision when removing fat and bone?

Anonymous said...

I can't remember... Did you show us already how to do that using a knife? :-)

However I remember that you wanted to show us how to use knifes correctly, don't you?

Chef John said...

eric, there are a few small pieces of meat where the leg attaches to the body that a sharp boning knife can get. Nothing major.

Chef John said...

balu, I may have showed some cutting in previous chicken clips, but this was for the person that is not going to use a knife, so let's try scissors. I want people to cook fresh food no matter how they prep the stuff.

Anonymous said...

hahaha, shave that goatie off; ahh john now im not gonna subscribe on your films no more..

Nah j/k, I love my goatie :) and nice film, allways used a knife with alot of muscle power, works great! tho this might work better.


PrimeBrit said...

The Chicken Dance yes! But you failed to mention those one hit wonders... The Tweets! They are responsible for really bad Dad dancing all over the world.

Anonymous said...

I've always had a hard time separating the breast meat from the rib plate. A sharp knife tends to cut into the bones and it's a jagged, inelegant process.
I keep thinking there may be a way to "scoop" the breast meat off the bone but haven't found it yet.

Any tips?

Scott - Boston

Chef John said...

just to watch the angle of the knife - there is a few degree wide zone where you are not cutting into the meat or the bone. Go slow and as soon as the knife hits bone (or meat) stop and adjust.

Anonymous said...

That Chinese cleaver looks like one I've had for a long time. Three Rams?

Great knife for very little dinero.

Anonymous said...

Thanks to you Chef John not only have I been singing "The Chicken Dance" all day, but I also can't stop saying de-assification. I did save a ton of money by switching to whole chickens though.


Chef John said...

yes cheap, but I couldn't even afford the Three Rams... I had to settle for the Two Goats.

Anonymous said...

Thank you! I passed by a cooler of fresh Hutterite chickens recently and thought "well, it's too hot out to roast a whole chicken" so I just kept walking. It did not even occur to me to cut the darn thing up... and now I know how! You keep changing my life for the better!

Anonymous said...

Do you want a real dulce de leche
recipe? Here you are:

4 cups of evaporated milk (A little more than two cans)
2 cups of sugar
2 eggs
1 t sp of lemon juice
1/4 t sp of salt
Blend all ingredients together (I use a blender) and cook at medium heat or a little less, until is golden brown. If you skip the lemon you will have a creamy dulce de leche. My family prefers the chunky version and I am sure you will too so use lemon.
I love you. I try your crepe recipe and it was a complete success.

Chef John said...


Anonymous said...

Cut off the butt??? Why?! That's the best part!

Christine said...

I just found your blog! An instant addict. Your video/discription is going to be wonderful for my older children who are starting to get the cooking bug. This will be great to have them try as I'm not quite comfortable having them tackle this task with a knife quite yet.

Thanks for the videos and keeping them fun and amusing :) Chicken dance song usage is priceless!

Elder Que said...

Great site. Just stumbled upon it today because someone on the Virtual Weber Bullet site linked to the Cornell Chicken video. I liked video so much that I stuck around and viewed several other videos. I'm actually going to cook the Cornell Chicken tomorrow. Thanks for the effort that you put into this site. There is a great deal of good info here.


Anonymous said...

Thanks so much for the technique Chef John. I just finished cutting up my first chicken without having to hack through the bones! I didn't have cutting shears, so I had to use the knife, but it was so much easier after the lesson. I bought the whole chicken to use for your lemon yoghurt chicken. It looks delicious and I can't wait to try it. Thanks again for the tutorial and for making your lessons so enjoyable! Susan

Unknown said...

That was surprisingly easy! (with a knife, I don't own kitchen scissors)

I think where people go wrong is, unless you've been shown where they are (like we have now), it's not immediately obvious where the joints are.

Unknown said...

Hi, John, Thanks for this post about scissors. I get more pleasure from your video.