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How to Carve a Chicken

How to Carve a Chicken
Step-by-step instructions for the easiest way to carve a whole roast chicken.
By Stephanie Nero

Carving a whole chicken can be intimidating, especially if you’ve never done it before. It’s also a necessity when you’re jump starting dinner with a rotisserie chicken. (Our Supper Secret Weapon: Rotisserie Chicken) We turned to our resident kitchen pro to show us the way. Let’s do it!

Roast Chicken

First of all, you’ll want a cutting board big enough to hold the entire chicken. Some cutting boards even have a channel along their edges to collect any juices. If you don’t have one, simply place your cutting board inside a rimmed sheet pan to help collect the drippings.

After your chicken has reached a steady internal temperature of 165°F (we used this recipe), remove it from the oven and let rest on a cutting board for at least 5 minutes before carving, and no more than 10 minutes. Resting gives time for the juices to redistribute, ensuring every piece of meat is as tender and juicy as possible. It also makes the meat easier to carve.

Start with the slightly cooled chicken resting breast-side up on your cutting board, with the legs facing toward you. Remove any ties or skewers from trussing.

Remove ties or skewers

Next, wiggle the drumsticks slightly to loosen up the leg joints and make carving easier.

Wiggle the drumsticks slightly to loosen the leg joints

Be sure to have your serving platter nearby so you can plate as you go. If your chicken is still too hot to handle, you can wear clean kitchen gloves.

STEP 1: Remove the dark meat.

While pulling leg away from body, cut to separate the drumstick from the breast. Repeat on the opposite side.

While pulling leg away from body, cut to separate the drumstick from the breast.

STEP 2: Carve the leg and thigh meat.

Use your hands to loosen joint where the drumstick and thigh meet. Now you can pull the thigh away from the drumstick and cut through the joint to separate.

Pull the thigh away from the drumstick and cut through the joint to separate.

Most people serve the drumsticks and thighs whole, so there’s no need to cut into further slices.

STEP 3: Remove the white meat.

Cut alongside the ribcage to remove the breast and tenderloin in one large piece. Use a sweeping motion to ensure you get the tenderloin underneath.

Cut alongside the ribcage to remove the breast and tenderloin.

You can serve the breast meat whole, or perhaps cut it in half—depending on how many people prefer white and dark meat.

STEP 4: Remove the wings.

Rotate the wings to find the joint.

Rotate the wings to find the joint.

While firmly holding the wing, cut where it meets the body.

While firmly holding the wing, cut where it meets the body.

Step 5. Plate and serve.

Arrange chicken pieces on a serving platter.

Arrange chicken pieces on a serving platter.

Garnish with any vegetables from the roasting pan. And enjoy!

Garnish with any vegetables from the roasting pan.


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