have you ever bones out a whole chicken... whole... not pieces?
Only cooking shows worth watching anymore IMNSHO are on PBS. Since it's SCREAMING hot outside, I've been vegging out in from of TV watching some of my favorites. Jacque Pepin boned out a whole chicken and made this yummy looking thing stuffed with spinach and cheese. Mouth was hanging open cuz he had a totally boneless chicken (all but little nubs on drumsticks... to keep shape, I think) in MAYBE 2 minutes MAX! Obviously, it takes YEARS of practice to debone that well and quick, but I was "in awe". Looked "simple" enough... but frankly don't like TOUCHING raw chicken any more than I have to?!? Not a germ-thing... just don't like the FEEL of it... skeeves me out BIG time?!?
WOuld LOVE to be courageous to try to debone a whole TURKEY... just a big chicken, right?
Have you done this? I figure the worst that could happen is ending up with a carcass for stock with way more meat left on it than needed?
Well, you'll need a sturdier knife and cleaver, and a lot of elbow grease, to do a turkey. And you'll be up to youe elbows in skin and grease, so there's a real danger of cutting yourself, even if handling raw meat didn't daunt you.
There's a Youtube video of JP breaking a chicken in 30 seconds. In contrast, there's one with Julie Powell (author of Julie&Julia) doing the same thing. Despite her having apprenticed with a butcher, the difference in timing and results is dramatic.
I've never done it, but my late grandfather was a meat cutter, and his holiday specialty was to debone a turkey, stuff it and roast it. At the table, he'd just cut slices of turkey with stuffing. Man do I miss that.
I have done many times with chickens, squabs and turkey.
But from your own description it does not sound like it is for you. It is all about handling raw poultry.
J.P.s method is sound as always. If you do attempt it make sure that you are very familiar with the instructions before starting and have a reference that you can refer to easily while immersed in raw poultry.
A turkey is easier to bone out than a chicken - there's more room to work. I did my first turkey for a Thanksgiving *many* years ago to prevent my father-in-law from taking over the carving duties from his son (my husband) who wasn't as adept. Carving a boned turkey is like cutting a large bologna - just slice.
May I suggest that when you get ready to do this, you tackle several birds. It is a very nice presentation to have a whole boned chicken surrounded by slices of other boned chickens (which means there will likely be leftovers for you, as well!).
It really isn't that difficult but you must overcome your distaste of handling raw poultry otherwise this will be an exercise in futility.
For a large demonstration class, I took three volunteers from the audience who had never boned a chicken. They all succeeded in under ten minutes. It is not terribly difficult to accomplish but you must be wary of greasy hands + sharp knife.
Good Luck. I hope that you try this and report your success back to us.
NB: the center of the breast is the most delicate part since there is very little meat there to protect the skin.
It's not very hard to learn if you're already well practiced at breaking down (but not deboning) poultry. Pepin walks you through the steps very clearly. Turkey is no harder to do than chicken, aside from the bones being a little harder to break. But if you're not already well practiced at breaking down poultry, you might want to try doing that as many times as possible first, just so you have a good feel for the anatomy.
There are definitely knives that I'd prefer for the job, but in truth most variations of chef knives, boning knives, or utility knives would suffice as long as you're comfortable with em and they're reasonably sharp.
Also, if you don't like touching the bird, you can always try rubber gloves.
A friend made me that Pepin boneless chicken with spinach and cheese (he added mushrooms) and it was about the best thing I ever ate. The stuffing kept the chicken amazingly moist and tender. He said it wasn't hard to do -- he did it with the video on in front of him and his remote in a ziplock so he could pause it with his greasy hands. And I agree with the advice to use rubber -- actually surgical -- gloves so you don't get skeeved out by the feel of the raw poultry.
Man, galantines are sexy; a page from a time when home cooking was very very different, indeed.
To the OP- it's really not that difficult a skill to pick up. All you really need is a good boning knife, a sense of patience (cutting with small, delicate strokes) and some practice. I learned the technique in a cooking course I took some time ago, and once you "get it", it's pretty simple. Speed is besides the point; you want to get as much meat off as possible without mangling the bird or breaking the skin. Tons of applications once you "get it", and you'll get naturally better over time.
Gotta touch the bird, though. Your fingers are just as important a tool as is the knife, to gently pry the meat away from the bones.
While I do not recommend wearing gloves (to me, it makes it harder to feel what's going on in my hands, which is important when wielding a very sharp knife), I do suggest that your knife have a good non-slip handle, because at least the first few times you try to debone a bird, it WILL get covered with a thin film of fat. Eventually, you may get good enough manipulating the bird with one hand so you never have to put the knife down between cuts, but the first couple of times, you're going to be putting the knife down to use both hands to move the meat/bones around.