A whole chicken includes both white meat- breasts and wings- and dark meat-drumsticks and thigh. Different cuts are better suited for certain preparations. Here’s a guide on how to select the best cuts for cooking.
Buying a whole chicken is also a most economical option. you can cook it and serve it whole, or you can divide up the cooked bird and use the meat in the salads, sandwich, soup, or other dishes. Or, you can cut up the raw chicken and use the various cuts for different recipes.
Carving a Whole Cooked Chicken
To carve the whole chicken into serving pieces, place its breasts side up on a carving board with a groove around the perimeter to collect the juices. Pull on a wing to locate the joint that connects it to the body then, using a large sharp knife, cut through the joint. Repeat with the other wing and transfer the wings on a serving platter. Move a drumstick to find the hip joint, then remove the whole leg ( drumstick and thigh) by cutting through the joint. Separate the thigh and drumstick by cutting through the joint that connects the two and transfer both pieces to the platter. Repeat with other leg. Now, stand the upright on a board and using a large, heavy knife, cut straight down through the middle of the bird to remove the back. You can use back to make stock or you can discard frame after you have picked the meat off of it. Next, cut each breast half crosswise into 2 pieces and transfer the pieces to the serving platter. You should have 10 pieces total, 4 breasts pieces,2 drumsticks, 2 thighs, and 2 wings.
Although some cooks send the wings to the stockpot, they are also great fried, broiled, or baked. Or you can use just the drumeette, the upper, meaty part of the wing, which like the wing itself, makes great finger food.
Arguably the most versatile cut, and a great source of low-fat protein, the breast provides the most meat. A little goes a long way, making it a choice for roasting then shredding for filling sandwiches, for stuffing enchiladas, or for mixing into salads and pastas. It can also be quickly grilled or sautèed and served when it is just done and till succulent. To save time, cook several breasts at once to use throughout the week (cooked chicken will keep in the refrigerator for upto 5 days).
Championed as classic ”game-day food,” drumsticks are often fried or baked with a spicy or sticky sauce. That’s because a relatively small amount of meat surrounds the bone and thick or gooey sauce helps keep the meat tender throughout the cooking process. Plus, the shape of the drumstick makes it perfect finger food-easy to grasp, or even dip into a sauce, without a utensil.
The darker meat of the thighs also carries more fat, which means its preparation requires less added fat. Naturally juicy and flavorful, thighs adapt to almost any method-stove top, grill, and oven. They are also the perfect size for a single serving.