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Tip of the Day: How to Break Down a Whole Chicken

I love chicken. But I’ve never killed one in my life. The day my family members discovered that people kill chickens for a living was a joyous day indeed. Since that discovery was made, we have done our bit to support the chicken slaughtering business. The fact that these service providers charge a paltry sum for their service makes it easy for us and anyone who wants to be rid of that inconvenience to solicit their service.

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Meanwhile, killing a chicken is the only chicken-related task that I find daunting. I enjoy cooking and eating chicken. Hehehe. I can also break down chicken. Now, I know some people consider breaking down whole chicken a difficult task.

Today’s tip of the day segment offers instructions on how this chore can be accomplished with ease. However, before I share my little knowledge with the class, let me make a clarification. Please, the chicken we are breaking down has been killed and plucked free of feathers. Having said that, if you no sabi how to cut chicken, come with me make I show you something.

For this task, you’ll need

Whole chicken, of course

A sharp knife

Chopping board



Detaching the legs

Place the chicken on a chopping board. Get the knife. Reach for a leg because the legs are the first part of a chicken to be cut off the body. Pull the leg away from the chicken.

Slice the skin between the breast and the drumstick. This slice will expose the meat underneath the skin. Bend the leg and tilt forward until the hip bone pops out of the socket.

Hold the drumstick firmly. Cut through the leg, the skin and the joint. Get as much meat as possible in the process. Detach the leg completely and drop it into a clean bowl. With one leg off, repeat the same process with the other leg.

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To separate the drumstick from the thighs, pick one leg from the bowl. Cut along the fat lines and between the joints. If you meet any resistance, don’t stop. Just adjust the knife and cut till the drumstick separates from the thigh.

Drop the drumstick and the thigh into the bowl then pick the second leg for a repeat performance.

Removing the wings

After legs detachment, the next step is wings removal. To do this, pull the wings away from the body. Feel for the joint,  pop the bone out of the socket.

Cut through the skin and the joint. If you meet resistance while cutting, adjust the knife slightly.

When you’ve succeeded in completely detaching the wing, put it in the bowl containing the legs. Repeat this process on the other wing.

Separating the backbone and breast

Removing the backbone and splitting the breast comes next. If the chicken breast is still facing up, flip it over and let the cavity face you. Then, cut down both sides of the backbone.

Once you’ve separated the backbone and the breast, place the chicken breast side up again. Use your knife and cut through the skin and split the breast open.

Take the right breast and cut into the number of pieces you want. Do same with the left.

Finally, break the backbone into smaller pieces. Once this is done, your chicken parts are ready for use.

I hope you found this tip useful.


Featured Image Source: Serious Eats

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Obiamaka Angela Udevi

Udevi, Obiamaka Angela holds a Master of Arts degree in History & International Studies. She's a freelance writer with a passion for food and healthy living. She can be contacted through her email address,

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