About Me

I have been cooking my way through life for over 50 years, beginning with mud pies as a child. I've turned a corner now and feel a Renaissance in my life. Recipes and Random Thoughts is my personal spin in a blog about how to prepare good food and how it prepares you for life. I want to share with you, honest to goodness food punctuated with perspective from the special memories and moments that have marked my journey.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Deboning a Whole Chicken a' la Pepin

Deboned whole chicken
Some people choose to go to the moon or climb Mount Everest; I choose to debone a whole chicken!
It was like that scene in the movie Julie and Julia, when Julie attempts to debone a whole duck while watching a Julia Child video.  It's her grand finale' while working her way through Mastering the Art of French Cooking.  I get it, it's a big technical challenge and I want to own it.

I recently rediscovered Jacques Pepin and became fascinated with a few videos of him deboning a whole chicken which he says can be done in about 45 seconds.  After watching the video dozens of times I took my very sharp boning knife in hand and gave it a try.  My first attempt took about 20 minutes, not to mention, I wasn't sure what he meant by the "hip".  Do chickens have hips?  I sliced and realized I'd gotten it wrong but not too much damage was done.

Stuffed, rolled & tied
After a few preliminary slices Monsieur Pepin uses his hands and strips the flesh off most of the carcass except for the legs which take scraping and some detail.  Now this is a man with strong, large hands and the manual dexterity of a pianist.  He's an absolute genius whose knife skills and technique are unmatched.  I, on the other hand, have small hands, average knife skills and the manual dexterity of a finger painter, but I managed and with practice I think I can get it down but not in 45 seconds.  We are in for a lot of deboned whole chicken in the future as I master this.

I followed his example and stuffed it with spinach, garlic and cheese; even got the basic idea of tying it with slip knots, then browning and roasting in the oven.  I've always thought chicken is better skin on, bone in.  While this did keep the skin in tact, the point was to remove all the bones so it could be rolled and stuffed.  I expected a drier rolled bird but it was a remarkably moist, flavorful and tender chicken.  My husband gave it a thumbs up.

This isn't a must but if you'd like to learn a new culinary skill, this is a good one and it makes one fine chicken dish that has that wow factor.  I'm not about to give any instruction here but recommend watching a good video and then sacrifice a few whole chickens as practice.  At worst, you've got plenty of stock material.

If you choose to give deboning a try, remember these tips:

         - use a very sharp, boning knife. A real boning knife is not a chef or pairing knife.  It's use is specific to butchering.  See mine in the top picture.
         - practice safe handling of raw chicken and any surface or equipment it touches (cutting board,    knife, etc.). I washed my hands every time I had to stop, grab something or rewind that video and I used lots of paper toweling.  Wash cutting board and knife in warm soapy water, spray with a bleach based cleaner and rinse well.

         - save the carcass and other bones in a zip lock bag to freeze for stock.

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