From the Blog

How to Quarter a Chicken

New Pioneer Food Co-op March 1 Category: Recipes

Buying a whole chicken is a great way to save money and get several meals from a single purchase. Brett Gacutan demonstrates the process of quartering a whole chicken into drums, thighs, wings and breast meat.

Video Transcript

Hi. My name is Brett Gacutan. I am a culinary school graduate from Austin, Texas. Today I'm going to show you how to quarter your own whole chicken.

To start, let's talk about knife choice. This is a boning knife, what most professional cooks would use to break down a chicken. It's a very thin, sharp, pointed knife. But most people don't have this at home. So I'm going to be using a standard chef's knife. And basically any knife that is sharp and you're comfortable using is a good knife to use for this process.

So, to begin, we're going to rinse the chicken, just to remove any excess blood and any gizzards or innards that are left inside the chicken carcass. Then I'm going to pat it dry, just so that he doesn't slip around on the cutting board.

So I'm going to start by just picking up the bird by its wing. I'm going to cut through and let gravity and the blade do most of the work for me. And the wing will come right off.

If you want to cook, roast, or fry this, tuck the wing under the drum right here, making a triangle shape. And that just makes sure that the wing cooks evenly. I'm going to do the same on the other side, going through the joint. There we go.

From there, I'm going to remove the wishbone, which is located in the neck cavity right here. It feels like two thick toothpicks. So I'm just going to take my knife and slowly scrape away the flesh from the wishbone. And then reach in there. And feel where the wishbone is at the top. And dislocate it, and pull it out. Here you have the wishbone.

Now I'm going to make an incision between the leg and breast—very thin, shallow cuts on both sides.

From there, I'm going flip the bird over.

I'm going to pop the joints back until they dislocate, so that all I'll have to do is cut through the flesh between the breast and the thigh. Getting as much meat as I can from the back, I'm going to cut the thigh from the backbone going through the joint. And so I have a drum and thigh.

I'm going to do the same on the other side. And another drum and thigh.

From there, if you want to separate the drum from the thigh, there's usually a line of fat right about here that you can just put your blade through, and you'll eventually see the joint. It's that white piece right there. You just cut through. Drum and thigh. Do the same with the other.

Again, here's that line of fat. Find the white joint and cut. There's another drum and thigh.

Now for the breasts. You're just going to feel along the middle right here, and that is the keel bone, or breast bone. You're going to cut down both sides of that, and slowly peel away the breast meat from the ribs of the chicken. And there you have your second breast.

I just have the carcass right here. I can use this for making chicken stock. And so I have here two wings, two drums, two thighs, two breasts and a carcass. And that is how you quarter a chicken.

I'm Brett for Co+op, stronger together

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New Pioneer Food Co-op About the Author

New Pioneer Food Co-op

New Pi is a food co-operative, owned by over 35,000 members, home-grown in Iowa. We welcome everyone to our store, regardless of membership, and focus on local and sustainable food solutions. New Pi has strong roots in Iowa City’s local food community, and continues to partner with local growers, food, and sustainability organizations to enrich Linn and Johnson County communities.