Monday, October 12, 2009

How to Halve a Chicken

Ok, I really don't know if this is the best way to go about halving a chicken. But it was the first time I had ever done it and it worked just fine, see? But I'm getting ahead of myself. My girlfriend came home with a roaster and I got to thinking. I realized that a whole chicken was a bit much for just the two of us and even though we use all the leftovers, it's never quite the same as it is when freshly cooked. So, why not cut it in half, freeze one and cook the other? Why not, indeed?

I had recently read this post over at Girlichef about breaking down a chicken, so I figured I would just do what she did and stop when I had two halves. I figured out a couple things while doing it, one little trick and one fact. The fact? The inside of a chicken is gross. It's full of some kind of weird spooge and I don't know what it is. I assume it's a chicken fluid that... solidifies or something after it gets slaughtered. We aren't going to talk about it anymore and I'm not going to show you any pictures of it. I'll tell you about the trick when the post catches up to it. So, grab a chicken, some kitchen shears and lets do this thing.

First, you need to get a plastic freezer bag (unless you're making stock soon, then don't worry about freezing it. You are making stock with the chicken bits, right?). You need this for bits that you want to keep to make stock from. From now on it will be referred to as the stock sack. Toss the giblets and neck in there, they are good stock stuff. Now trim the tips off the wings. I've found the tips brown too quickly and turn into nasty little black lumps. You don't have to do this, it's a personal preference thing. Next trim off the tail bit. This is just a big chunk of fat, for the most part, and you really don't need it. Toss it in the stock sack. Plus it shows you just where the spine is. That's the trick I was talking about earlier. Hope it wasn't too anticlimactic. Now just snip next to it all along the length of the spine. The snapping bones wig out at least one person that I'm aware of, but it didn't bother me too much, thankfully. Heh. First one side, then the other. Toss the spine in the stock sack, there's some good stuff in there. Now you've got this. You want to flip it over and cut it along the breast bone. A big ass knife is the best (I'm told), but I had already dirtied up my shears so I figured I would soldier on with them. I know, I know, it's one of those chickens. The ones with the "let's over cook it" pop up dealies. I actually like them because that way I only over cook it a little, instead of a lot like I do when I try to take the temperature myself. I'm terrible at that for some reason. But once you cut through it you're all set. Two halves. It looks better like this. Of course, now we need to cook it. I decided to keep it pretty simple. I put the half chicken in my ten inch, stainless steel stir fry pan. I figured this would help hold it together and also make the juices pool underneath it, since it didn't quite touch the bottom, and help keep it moist (it did). I minced half a shallot, a couple cloves of garlic, a couple tablespoons of fresh basil, salt, pepper and olive oil and mixed it all together. Well, I didn't mince the oil, salt and pepper, but you know what I mean. I stuffed all that under the skin, then just drizzled some more olive oil on the outside and sprinkled it with a bit more salt and pepper. Then I roasted it at 375 until it was done. Yes, I waited for the dealie to pop up. And it was fine, I swear! Only the white meat was a little dry, but the juices that pooled up in the bottom of the pan fixed that up just fine when I spooned them over it. In fact, it was fantastic. Rich chicken flavor with nice shallot, garlic and basil overtones. I'm going to be making chicken like this over and over. So, how would you cook a half a chicken?

32 comments:

Vicki said...

What an awesome idea to use a wok-y thing to cook a chicken half! I always use a roasting pan, and the juices end up burning, unless I remember to add more water. The chicken covering the juices in the skillet probably keeps them from drying out - you can make some good gravy from that.

I want to try the brick thing next...

Danielle said...

ok...I just have to tell ya....the last picture in this post (cooked chicken in wok) and the first picture in yesterdays post (white cat curled up)...as seen in google reader....well, there's kind of a similarity. I'm just saying.....(LMAO!)

Wandering Coyote said...

Man, this post totally wigged me out! I am still traumatized from that spatchcocking nighmare! Arrgggh!!!

monicajane said...

WC I'm totally with you on the cracking bones stuff and even looking at pictures...some day I will be a vegetarian no doubt. It's happened before. For three years...and it was after I skinned a whole chicken.

in any case, yeah, the first part wigged me out...

BUT, oh my, the end totally impressed me...it's gorgeous and the stuff you stuffed it with sounds totally awesome...

yum!!

Steph said...

You made that look so easy from start to finish! I've never halved a chicken before, but this reminds of the time I grossed my brother out by pulling out the organs found in cooked quail. After that, neither of us had the appetite to finish dinner!

The way you cooked your chicken is so cool!

Dajana said...

That was easy, wasn't it? I mean cutting the chicken in half, I used to do that all the time, until 2 turned into 4 people :))
I love how you prepared it.
I usually rub the chicken with herbs and salt, and a little mayo on the skin, wrap it in alluminium foil and roast. All the juices gather and stay inside.
p.s. that spongy thing inside was black? It might be the lungs.

Kate at Serendipity said...

Hmmm. The chickens here in Belgium are pretty clean inside. Giblets, maybe. A few leftover clots, but no spongy things. Ew.

Thanks for the step-by-step and the photos. I love the way you've cooked it!

Angie's Recipes said...

That's a neat way to halve chicken.

Angie's Recipes

A Year on the Grill said...

great post, clear instructions and photos. Well done...

LOL "overcook it pop up dealie"

Palidor said...

Heheh, I'm pretty morbid too so the sound of breaking bones doesn't faze me. You did a great job roasting it - the skin looks fantastic! One of my favorite ways to roast chicken is with lots of ginger and onions.

Hungry Dog said...

Awesome how-to on halving a chicken! I appreciated the trick, it is helpful to know as I've never done this. Nice job!

Elra said...

Thanks for the tip Bob! That's the great technique for sure.

Kelly @ EvilShenanigans said...

Great post! Your chicken looks lovely, and the skin looks too tempting!!

unconfidential cook said...

For a nasty second I thought you'd cooked the cat!....It's one of those days, and I do love your steps to a perfect chixhalf.

Natashya KitchenPuppies said...

Brilliant! With our nest emptying this is the perfect way to prepare chicken.
Except my way to cut it is to say, "Honey, can you cut this chicken in half while I get us some more wine? Thanks."

Bob said...

Thanks everyone!

Vicki: it totally does. The only real flaw for gravy making was it didn't brown much at all. But it was great just as a jus.

Dajana and Kate: It wasn't organs, they stayed in the bag. I think it was just some kind of chicken goo.

Velva said...

I enjoyed this blog post! I also learned how to halve a chicken. Thanks for sharing!

Mrs Ergül said...

What a fantastic and educational post!

Mrs Ergül said...

What a fantastic and educational post!

Cinnamon-Girl Reeni♥ said...

Great tutorial! Nothing compares to roasted chicken - not only for taste but the way it smells up the house. It's my favorite way to cook it.

noble pig said...

Every home cook should know how to do it! Good job.

5 Star Foodie said...

Great tips on how to half the chicken. I don't often make whole chicken because we eat such small portions but a half we can probably tackle :)

noobcook said...

great tip! It's useful when you just want to cook for two, or if the chicken is just a side meal. Thanks for sharing :)

DDpie said...

Great job Bob! I haven't had just two people around here in a long time HA! but I'm def gonna keep this in mind now that the girls are flying out of the coop. (k, sorry, I can't help myself)

Cathy said...

You are more brave than I am. I usually just buy a rotisserie chicken. Now I might have to try out those kitchen shears that are only ever used to open packages...

JennDZ - The Leftover Queen said...

Great post! I love the step by step instructions...and the end result!

girlichef said...

Nice! Definitely easier using a knife on the breast bone, but hey...why dirty yet another utensil...that's what I say, too. Stock sack. That will now be how I label my freezer bag!

Jennie said...

Fantastic post! Thanks for sharing!

Spryte said...

I have Wusthof kitchen scissors now... I could do this... but I think it might creep me out too much!

Maria - How to cook chicken said...

thans for those tips to cut a chicken in half, and make this clean and proper :) I will try your technique next time ill do a chicken barbecue !

Jade said...

If the spongy thing you're referring to are a deep red color, they are probably the kidneys and clotted blood. You can use a dull knife or spoon to scoop them out.

Christine Weld said...

We raise our own Cornish X cross from chicks. After 8 weeks, we put them in crates and drive them over to the Amish who slaughter, pluck, and then butcher them to specification. I make my own pesto, pack it under the skin; butter, salt, pepper on the outside and roast. Nothing beats a freezer full of chicken for 1/2 the price you'd pay at the grocery for "organic" chicken halves.

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