carving roast chicken
On this thread -- http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/650741 -- someone suggested Thomas Keller's roast chicken recipe (http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/foo...). I tried it tonight. The chicken came out beautifully, nice brown crackly skin, and then I totally mangled it trying to carve it the way Keller suggests. Please help me learn how to do it his way.
My normal method for carving a roast chicken is: remove legs, slice breast meat off bone, then assume the rest of the bird will go into chicken salad or something else so give up on making it look pretty.
Here's Keller's method:
1. Separate middle wing joint. [OK, I can do that
]2. Remove legs and thighs. [Legs, no problem. Thighs? I just kind of hacked at it until the thigh came off, but I probably left too much thigh meat attached to the backbone. How do you find the line to follow with your knife?]
3. Take off backbone and eat "oysters". [Didn't try to do this. How do you take this off? Where are the oysters?]
4. Cut off chicken butt. [OK, easy.]
5. Cut breast down the middle, serve on the bone, with one wing joint attached. [Here's where i really messed up the beautiful skin. I just pressed down with my knife to one side of the breastbone until I made progress, then kept going until I was through the bottom side of the bird. This really mangled the skin.]
Help please! Also, what kind of knife should I be using? I used a big Chinese-style rectangular cleaver-type thing.
Each wing has three sections. The middle joint is the second joint from the tip of the wing. It is between the two larger segments of the wing.
To give a pretty much equal amount of skin on each slice of breast meat, pull the whole breast away from the carcass, starting at the keel and running a knife between ribs and meat. If the wishbone is removed first, the breast will come off more easily. Lay the breast pieces onto a cutting board and slice them crosswise rather than from head to tail.
A recipe I made one Christmas was the stuffed turkey in the book "Julia and Jacques Cooking at Home", where the backbone is removed BEFORE cooking (my butcher looked at me cross-eyed when I asked him to remove the backbone). The legs are cut off, partially deboned and stuffed. As well, stuffing is mounded in the centre of the pan and the breast placed over it.
Due to some unfortunate circumstances that Christmas everything got screwed up, so I can't really report on how it turned out, but I think I will try it again, perhaps with a capon this time as I don't like turkey.
As souschef noted, it's easy to remove the legs and thighs together. With the chicken on its back, hold the ribcage upright and push the "knee" sideways until it touches the carving board. You'll see the ball joint where the thigh joins the pelvis; cut straight through this joint and the leg quarter comes right off.
Removing the backbone requires cutting through the ribs and pelvis. Poultry shears are the ideal tool for the job. The oysters are nestled next to the backbone at the top of the pelvis.
Cutting the breast down the middle is best accomplished once the backbone is out - lay the bird face down, put your cleaver against the keel bone, and give it a good whack. Voila, no mangled skin.
If you're going to carve the meat off the breast instead of leaving it on the bone, removing the wishbone makes it **much** easier to get neat slices. This goes for chickens, turkeys, pheasants, quail, etc.
the keller method as described here involves more bird flopping than i like. i take off both leg/thigh sections and seperate them after they're off the bird. next i take off the wings, leaving some white meat on the socket. next i cut down one side of the breast bone and when i hit skeleton angle the knife down and away along the ribs. this results in a log of white meat that can be cut crosswise into 3 or four pieces. do the same on the other side. when most of the white meat is gone, i flip the bird and go after the oysters. (it seems odd to flip the bird earlier since there's such a strong likelihood of scuffing up the breast skin if you do,)
a few considerations help create a pretty carving result: be sure the bird is well rested and no longer piping hot; sharpen your carving knife before starting; don't overcook the bird. it is very hard to neatly carve a very hot bird or one that is so well cooked that it wants to carve itself into shreds--no matter how delicious.
Agree with smartie: use poultry shears to cut most of the chicken up. First remove the first wing joint - much easier with shears than a knife - then remove the back by cutting with the shears up each side of the backbone from the vent to the neck opening. The oysters are two chunks of flesh near the vent opening on either side of the backbone - extremely moist, juicy and flavorful - a real cook's treat. Then remove the leg/thigh quarters: to remove, grab the leg at the bottom where the foot was cut off, and gently pull it away from the body. Use your sharp knife or cleaver to slice through the skin between the breast and thigh, and soon the thigh joint will be revealed. Use the shears to cut through the thigh joint (cleaver will work fine here too). Do the same to the other leg quarter, then feel with your fingers through the top of the leg/thigh to find the joint, and use a chef's knife or a cleaver to separate the leg from the thigh right in the center of the joint. Finally use the shears to cut through the center of the breast bone from vent to neck, separating the breast neatly into two halves. You could also use the cleaver to do this, placing the breast skin-side down and slicing through the center of the breastbone from the inside with a good whack of the cleaver.
I don't like to slice up the breast meat unless the bird is large.
Good luck, it's really easy once you understand the chicken anatomy.
I normally take off the whole leg (thigh and drumstick) and then separate the two. The best way to find out where to cut is to hold the leg and move it away from the body; it should move easily in its socket. That will give you an indication of where to cut.
The oysters are on the underneath (if the chicken is laying on its back - yes, I know, at that point is is no longer laying :-), located about the middle of the chicken. They are....oyster-shaped, and are the best part of the bird.
I do not serve the breast on the bone; I slice off all the meat.
I use a large chef's knife.
What I do with the breast meat is take the entire breast off, slice it on the board. No bone, and everyone gets some of the magnificent skin. Remove thighs near the body, some times, slice the sockets where the joint is joinint the thigh to the leg, sometimes leave whole. I never take out the spine (not after it;s cooked) remove entire wings from the body, and flip it over then we take out the oysters. What's left make great stock.
I'm no help, can only commiserate -- our chicken dinners would probably tie for ugliest presentation (altho good tasting)... this after all the videos and magazine articles! I've used every knife from a chef's, carving, cleaver, santoku, paring (sometimes on one bird). Next up is an electric knife which I will buy before T-giving (per ATK). If you find a way, let me know!
go get poultry shears or chicken scissors.
Cut the legs off. Cut up either side of the spine and throw it away. Then cut the breasts off, cut the remaining back section into 2 (one section with the wings). You get 6 pieces of chicken and if the breasts are huge I cut them in half again.