The average whole chicken (not organic) costs about .94cents a pound making the average 5 lb. bird less than $5.00 or so. That’s 2 whole chicken breasts, 2 whole thighs, 2 drumsticks, 2 wings, and an entire chicken back, neck, and gizzards (great for homemade gravies, au jus and stock) for less than .55cents average per piece. WOW!! You see, when you gain specific information, you’re more apt to make changes that affect your bottom line.
I “usually” buy 3 whole chickens to make the “cutting up” really worth my time and money – giving me 24 “real” pieces for under $15 for the month…again, WOW!! So the “go to” meals that come to mind are 6 thighs for Coq Au Vin (dinner for 2, plus 1 lunch); 6 wings to make Friday Night HOT Wings with Fresh Crudite and Ranch Dressing (dinner for 2);6 drumsticks for frying or rotisserie style with mashed sweet-potatoes and steamed broccoli (dinner for 2); 6 chicken breast that I easily cut into slender halves for 12 Breasts for grilling, frying, baking, or shredding for soup or cubing for salads, wraps, tacos, fajitas – 10 meals easy there. Now, some of you have said, “That sound like GREAT cost savings, but I don’t know how to cut up a whole chicken.” Well, isn’t it worth it for you to LEARN how? And I promise, cutting up a chicken takes just about 5 minutes – after some practice…10 minutes for beginners.
The easiest way is to bake the entire bird then take off your select pieces – breasts, thighs, drumstick, and wings. However, I prefer to have raw chicken parts that I may season then wrap for my freezer. So, I buy 3 whole chickens, then wrap them up according to the pieces I may need for meals and recipes I may have in my head. Here’s how I do it…
WINGS: Lay the whole chicken breast up. To determine where the wing joint attaches to the breast, just wiggle the wing and cut through the ball joint where it meets the breast. Easy.
LEGS (Thighs and Drumsticks): To remove the whole leg, cut through the skin between the thigh and the breast so that you may see the bones. Then wiggle the leg to determine where the thigh meets the socket, cut through that joint. Place each leg skin-side down. See where the ball joint between the drumstick and thigh is located (look for the thin line of fat that was perpendicular to the body.) Cut through to separate the thigh and the drumstick, wiggle the joint to help locate it. Done
BACK/BREASTS: The easiest way (I found) to remove the breast meat is to remove the “back.” Start at the head end of the bird and cut through the rib cage on one side of the backbone with kitchen shears or a sharp knife. Repeat on the other side of the backbone to remove it completely. Reserve the backbone and neck (and giblets)for chicken stock later. To cut the breast into 2 halves, place it skin-side down, exposing the breastbone. To protect your hand, fold up a kitchen towel and place it on top of a heavy, sharp knife. Use a lot of pressure to cut through the reddish breast bone and whitish cartilage right down the center of the breast. Now you have 2 breast halves. I often cut each breast in half again to get 4 sliced breast pieces per bird. Wiggle and clean the wishbone for fun and make a wish with someone you love!