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How to Break Down a Whole Chicken into Parts for Barbecue

Learn how to break down a whole chicken into parts from Pork Barrel BBQ pitmasters Heath Hall and Brett Thompson in this Howcast video.


Today I'm going to show you how to break down a chicken. It's a really great skill to have. It's going to save you a lot of money when you go to the store and you get a whole chicken verses buying a pre-broken down chicken with the legs, thighs, breasts, wings already broken down. So, what you want to do is you want to get a whole roasting chicken and there are several ways to break it down.

What I like to do is start by breaking down the backbone and then cut into two halves. So, take a really sharp knife. You really need a sharp knife and find the sides of the back bone, and then just cut right down the edge of that. Then come over to the other side, and again this is going to be a pretty tough cut. You want a really good sharp knife. When you get to the edge you can kind of trim it off. Now, you want to have a waste bucket there, so you can put in all the waste that you are going to have.

Now, take your chicken and kind of snap it back. You are going to follow the breast bone here, and just cut right down the middle. This is going to leave you with two halves, so we will sit this half over here and we will work with this half. Now, there is some fat here on the back that I like to get rid of. Just take your knife and trim that off.

There is a natural gap here between the breast, and the leg, and the thigh that you are just going to follow. Turn it around. So, now you've got two chicken quarters. This is great for barbeque chicken. This is what we like to cook with a lot of times with the chicken quarters. If you want to break this down even further, you can pop out that leg from the thigh, and again there is a natural curve in there.

I'm going to bring out a little bit bigger knife, so I can kind of make this cut. So there is your first leg, and there is your first thigh. Now, you can trim this thigh up a little bit more, if you want to. There are some pieces on here that you really probably don't need to cook with that will make it a little bit easier when it gets to the dinner table. You want to get any of these organs out of there. There is a little bit more skin and fat here. There is the first thigh, and then the wing. We are going to take our bigger knife and we are going to cut straight down. We've got our wing and we've got our breast.

Now, we can do a couple of things here. We can either take out all of this bone, and have a boneless breast, which we'll do with this guy. And we also have the tenderloin. This makes really nice nugget type things, you can bread that, and fry that. Then, we've got our boneless breast. So there you go. That's simply how to break down a chicken into a breast, the tenderloin, the leg, the thigh, and the wing, and you can repeat that on the second side and you'll have yourself a broken down chicken.

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