How do I quarter a chicken?

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PA Baker

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I'd like to try making Coq au Vin this weekend. The recipe says to quarter my chicken. Can anyone give me some tips on how to do this?
 

buckytom

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i will just have to come over and show you. yummmm, i love coq au vin. are you gonna use a chicken, or a rooster (which is the real deal, since it is called "coq").
quartering isn't difficult when you think about it, the legs and wings come off easy by stretching them away from the body, and finding the joint to slice through. then it's a little trickier to cut out the backbone. i use a good pair of shears for this. once the backbone is cut out, you can flatten out the bird to get a better idea of how to split the breast. a cleaver works best, but you could use a big knife as well for this.
like i said, it is easier to show someone than to explain it...
 

PA Baker

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You're welcome to come demonstrate--as long as you bring Bucky Jr! There's always more than enough food in my house.

I'm using a chicken that I have in the freezer and want to use up. He's probably about 3-4 lbs. I want to play with my new French oven more so have been scrounging around for recipies that use it! It's supposed to snow Saturday night so coq au vin should be a perfect meal!
 

GB

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Between needing to learn the cuts of beef and needing to learn how to quarter a chicken you and I are very much alike PA Baker :) This is another thing I am dying to learn how to do. I have tried cutting up chickens, but always end up with a mess. Last night I made chicken under a brick. You cut out the backbone and flatten the bird before cooking. When it was done, like Bucky said, it was much easier to see how to quarter it. Instead of using a brick for this recipe I used my French oven to weight it down. Worked great. If you are looking for another recipe to use your French oven (allbe it not actually for the cooking part) then this is a great one. Let me know and I will happily post it. By the way, how do you like your new toy and what have you made in it so far?
 

PA Baker

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GB, it sounds like you and I need to go spend a few days with a butcher! The problem with me is that I like meat, as long as I don't think about what animal it comes from. So manhandling the meat a lot tends to turn my stomach. I need to work on that! (If it weren't for my hubby, who's a pure carnivore, I could probably eat very little meat.)

I love my new French oven! I felt so guilty buying it, but between the incredible sale and having used it, I am so happy I did! So far I've used it to simmer a big batch of soup (I'd already had it made and frozen) and last Sunday I made the braised beef that was on this month's Gourmet cover. Norgeskog posted it here: http://www.discusscooking.com/viewtopic.php?t=7471. It was excellent!

I'd love your chicken under a brick recipe. I have a second chicken in the freezer and that would be a good use for it! :D
 

GB

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Yes I think you are right. A field trip to the butcher would do me a lot of good!

I will post the Chicken under a brick recipe when I get home tonight. I went to do it from memory, but I know I will leave something out so I will wait until I can post it correctly. it really came out great and was a lot of fun to make.

I am so happy you are enjoying your French oven. They are such a great tool in the kitchen!
 

Andy M.

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PA Baker:

Try this:

Make cuts along both sides of the backbone, removing it completely. Place the chicken, breast side down on the counter and press it flat. Using a heavy knife or cleaver, cut through the breast bone, halving the chicken.

Place one half on the counter skin side up. Make a cut diagonally across the half, near the thigh, making two pieces-the thigh/leg and the breast/wing. This cut is made in the area between the end of the rbs and the thigh. Repeat with the other half.

Enjoy your coq au vin. Next time, give chicken paprikash a try!
 

AllenOK

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I've found that kitchen shears are really helpful in this situation.

Place the bird on a cutting board, breast down. Insert the shears into either the neck hole or the other hole. Use your fingers to find the backbone, and cut through the ribs/pelvis just to the side of the backbone, all the way to the other hole. Repeat this to completely remove the backbone, saving the backbone for stock. Lay the bird on the breast, skin-side down. Using both hands, press open the bird so that it lays flat. Using a heavy knife or cleaver, cut through the keel bone in the breast. You may have to use the shears (for the life of me, I can't remember if you have to cut the pelvis a second time, as well. It's been awhile since I did this on my own). You should now have half a chicken, breast, wing, thigh, and leg. Using a Chef's knife, cut the breast/wing section away from the thigh/leg section. You chicken is now quartered.
 

Claire

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I know that we're beyond when you were planning this, but Claire the Practical will chme in here. When "butchering" a chicken, pay attention to you hands, and how cold they are. Rinse your hands under warm-to-hot water often. In my experience, you often cut your fingers simply because your hands become so cold that you honestly don't really know where the knife is and where your other hand is. It sounds stupid, but it happnens a lot. Once your hands are that cold, which they wil be if you're doing it safely, you need to make sure you are using all the safety methods that everyone here tells you about.
 

buckytom

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hmmm, i guess i'm backwards. i take off the legs and wings first, then cut the carcass in half.

good point claire about cold hands. my worst cuts were when my hands were freezing.
 

PA Baker

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I did it!

Thanks to all of your tutelage, I had no problem quartering my chicken (GB, I still want to have that butcher field trip, though!). Sharp kitchen scissors were the key. However whoever said that it's hard to tell where your fingers are when they're very cold is right--I have the band-aid to prove it! :roll:

The coq au vin turned out very well. I used a very standard--albeit poorly written--recipe. Next time I'll be sure to brown the chicken at a higher temp (recipe said to cook for a couple minutes on each side. I didn't realize until too late that I should have browned) and add a little more garlic. Over all, it was a wonderful, extremely rich dish for a cold snowy night.
 

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