Make the Most of Your Investment

Chickens cannot be processed “whole” via Sous Vide, because there is no way to remove all of the air from the cavity.  Consider the advantage of buying a whole chicken and breaking them down yourself.  It’s amazing how many people avoid doing this. When you buy 2 skinless boneless chicken breasts in the store, you pay almost as much for them as you would for the entire chicken.  How can this be?

Let’s say that whole chickens are going for $1.25/lb.  If the chicken weighs five lbs., it will cost $6.25.

Skinless boneless breasts usually go for somewhere around $3.25/lb.   That chicken will yield 2 skinless boneless breasts weiging about 12 oz. each, so they will cost you almost $5.  That means, for about $1.25 more, you could have the rest of the chicken, about 3.5 lbs. worth of legs, thighs, and carcass.   Even if you just used it all to make stock, it would be a bargain.

Make Whole Chicken Your Business

Youtube has videos explaining many ways to cut up a chicken. Some of the videos explain how to remove all the bones while leaving the meat intact.  For our purposes, that really isn’t necessary, so I have created a simple model that almost any novice will be able to learn.

Whole Chicken - Broken Down - Bagged

Don’t Chicken Out Now

It is easy to safely handle chickens.  Many people insist on washing them in the sink, but this is more likely to spread pathogens than remove them.  The best thing to do is remove the whole chicken from the bag, discard the bag, and put the chicken on a towel on a clean cutting board.  Use the towel to dry it, and don’t use that towel for anything other than the chicken.

Whole Chicken - Broken Down - Bagged

  • Use a sharp knife to remove the wings.  If you hit the right spot, the knife will slip easily through the joint.  If you experience resistance, toggle the knife a little bit one way or the other, and it will go right through.

Whole Chicken - Broken Down - Bagged

  • Remove the tips from the wings, using the same method.

Whole Chicken - Broken Down - Bagged

  • Insert the knife through the skin between the carcass and the thigh, and pull the thigh” leg out to expose the joint.

Whole Chicken - Broken Down - Bagged

  • As the chicken rolls over, guide the knife along the contour of the carcass, cut through the joint, and keep going until the thigh is removed.

Whole Chicken - Broken Down - Bagged

  • Repeat the process with the other leg/thigh.

Whole Chicken - Broken Down - Bagged

  • Separate the thighs from the legs at the joint.  Again, if you hit the right spot, the knife goes through very easily.

Whole Chicken - Broken Down - Bagged

  • Stand the carcass up, and you can feel and see the breast bone.  Align the blade at a 90 degree angle and begin to cut down, following the contour of the breast bone.

Whole Chicken - Broken Down - Bagged

  • You can slowly pull the breast away from the bone.  Some cooks just finish this procedure with their fingers, gently pulling away the rest of the breast.

Whole Chicken - Broken Down - Bagged

  • Cut through the joint holding the shoulder wing to the carcass, and finish cutting through.

Whole Chicken - Broken Down - Bagged

  • Do exactly the same thing for the other breast.

Whole Chicken - Broken Down - Bagged

  • This leaves you with just the carcass.  It still has a little meat on it, so, when I make stock, I process @140 for 4 hours. I remove the carcass, cool it, pick it, and return it to the stock. Increase the heat to 183F for at least another 4 hours to finish cooking out the chicken bones and the vegetables.

Whole Chicken - Broken Down - Bagged

  • The carcass will break in half very easily, making it easier to fit in the Ziploc Gallon bag.

Whole Chicken - Broken Down - Bagged

  • So, here’s the two breasts, two legs, two thighs, and two wings.

Whole Chicken - Broken Down - Bagged

  • For this model, I bag each breast separately, then thigh, a leg, and a wing in each of two bags, as pictured.

Whole Chicken - Broken Down - Bagged

  • Remove as much air as possible, and seal the bags a little more than half way.

Whole Chicken - Broken Down - Bagged

  • Slowly dangle the bag into room temperature water, and the air will be slowly forced out.

Whole Chicken - Broken Down - Bagged

  • I keep my finger in the hole until the bag is almost completely submerged.

Whole Chicken - Broken Down - Bagged

  • Then, I pull out my finger and finish sealing the bag.  Submerge the bag completely now, so you can detect any leaks.
  • See the Chicken Stock page for the next step!

I hope this little pictorial on using the whole chicken was helpful.  Let me know!