1. Know your cuts
There are four major cuts, or sections, that you're going to be looking for:
2. Tackle your chicken right away
Disassembling and shredding you chicken will be easier the fresher and warmer it is, so do it when you get home from the grocery store (it will be plenty cool enough to work with). You can always throw it in the fridge until you're ready to work with it, but the juices from the chicken will form this gelatinous goop at the bottom of the container that's less than appetizing and the colder chicken is sometimes more difficult to separate from the bones/skin.
3. Separate the breast meat first
Place the chicken breast side up and check for any kitchen twine--remove this before beginning. Run a knife down the center of the chicken and find the bone. Cut just off to one side and slice top-to-bottom down the bone.
Now, run you knife down the other side of the breast, along the leg and wing, with your knife cutting between the leg/wing and breast. The whole breast should be removed easily now.
Repeat on the other side.
4. Remove the legs and the wings
Gently pull the leg from the joint until it separates. If it doesn't come easily, you can use your knife and place a little pressure at the joint to help it come free. If you're lucky, a lot of the thigh meat will come with your leg.
Repeat the process for the wings.
5. Get the rest
Thighs are a little more difficult to remove from a cooked chicken. Most cooks suggest flipping the bird over and, using your hands or a fork, removing any useable meat.
6. Finishing details
If you're having sections of chicken for your meal, you're done!
If you're using the chicken for any other recipes (like sandwiches, salads, soups, etc.), remove the skin and chop or shred your meat, as the recipe calls for.
Voilà! That's all there is to it!
If you're feeling super ambitious, the bones can be use to make chicken stock. Check out this recipe if you're interested.
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