Quartering A Whole Chicken

I have been steadily cooking from my new "cookbook of the month" for the month of September, and in the process I am learning quite a bit. A recipe from the cookbook, though, called for a whole chicken, quartered into 8 pieces; it also called for a chicken stock, which I knew I would need the chicken frame and bones for.

So a whole chicken it was, and I would have to quarter it. I approached this venture rather nonchalantly as I purchased my chicken, and prepared to undertake the task. I had seen the movie, Julie & Julia (where Julie Powell has to bone a duck!), I had read Cleaving by Julie Powell (where she becomes a butcher)--so if Julie Powell could do it, well so could I!

The morning of the scheduled quartering, I awoke a little nervous because I knew this was a make or break day; could I have the chutspa I wanted to have and do it, or would I fail miserably? After all, many of us home cooks who aspire to cooking greatness have roasted a chicken and then carved it and used it's parts for various dishes... but how many of us buy our meat and actually cut it raw? Certainly, it is the cheaper and, if you ask me, more useful way, but modern convenience hinders even the best aspirations.

Nonetheless, there I was: me and chicken. Chicken and me. I had sharpened my knife, and I was ready to make the first cut. I had consulted both the The Joy of Cooking, and American Harvest (both which have nice illustrations, pictures, and instructions,) and they were laying in wait to be consulted between cuts. My husband, dutiful and amused, was standing poised with the camera.

And as I held out the first leg quarter to be cut and began my slicing, I knew my face said it all: I was actually doing it, and rather well for a first time, if you ask me!

It seemed a challenge in my own mind, but in practice, it was rather intuitive. And I think it came out great. One thing you want to make sure of is that you have a nice sharp knife--not a big knife, just a sharp one--and one that is easily maneuverable.

Doing this only once, I can proudly tell you I will certainly do it again, in fact, many times over. I am kicking around the notion of canning my own stock, too, so that I can butcher the chicken into the proper cuts, freeze them individually for later use, and then make a stock of the bones and then have that on hand as well.  Here are the pictures, which pretty much say it all as far as the process goes.

It is now my opinion that anyone, given the confidence in the kitchen to just get in there and try it, could easily quarter their own chicken!

Removing the leg & thigh in tandem
And from the other side...
(you can also cut the thigh from the leg, but I left them intact) 

If I look surprised it's because it worked! WOW! 

Getting the wing off was simple! 

Slicing the breast off (after removing the skin)
It is not necessary to remove the skin, but I had
other plans for it! 
The breast. Most people are familiar with
their chicken looking this way! 

The finished product! I was quite proud of myself!!! It looked almost identical to the pieces in the cookbook, minus the little pieces I straggled off... well, I couldn't let them go to waste, could I?? 

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