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Techniques - Preparing Poultry

DK PublishingDK Publishing 2/07/2014 DKBooks
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Preparing Poultry

Versatile poultry works well with all types of slow cooking. The following techniques show you how to truss a bird for pot roasting, debone it, and portion it for stews and casseroles.


Trussing

This technique can appear quite fiddly but once mastered, it only takes minutes to do. Trussing a bird before cooking allows it to hold its shape perfectly. It also helps cook it evenly, without overcooking any of the bony parts first. A poussin is shown here, but this works on other birds, too.

Season the insides of the bird with salt and pepper. Holding the bird breast-side down on a clean work surface, tuck the neck skin under the bird, and fold the wings over it.

Turn the bird over and pass a length of string under the tail end of the bird; tie a secure knot over the leg joints. Bring the strings along the sides of the body, between the breast and the legs, and loop them around the legs.

Turn the bird over so it is breast-side down again and tie the strings tightly under the body. Bring both ends of the string down between the sides of the body and the insides of the wings.

Tie the wing bones at the neck opening so they are tucked securely under the body. After cooking, cut the string to remove it.


Deboning poultry

If you prefer boneless meat, leg pieces (shown here) are better for slow cooking than the leaner breast meat. You may also wish to remove the bone to stuff the meat. Use a good, sharp knife and a series of shallow cuts to free the bone while preserving all the flesh. You can save the bones for stock.

To debone a drumstick, start in the middle and insert the tip of your knife until you locate the bone. Slice along the bone in both directions to expose it fully.

Open the flesh and cut neatly around the bone using short strokes to free it completely from the flesh. Discard the bone, or use it to flavor stock.

To debone a thigh, place the thigh skin-side down on a chopping board. Using a small, sharp knife, cut away the flesh to expose the thigh bone.

Cut an incision through the flesh, following the contour of the exposed bone. Cut around the bone to free it from the flesh. Discard the bone or use it for stock.


Jointing a chicken

This is a good skill to learn as it is often more economical to buy a whole chicken and joint it yourself than to buy expensive chicken pieces. The leftover bones and carcass can be used to make stock or soup. This jointing technique can be used for all poultry.

First, remove the wishbone. Using a sharp knife, scrape the flesh away from the wishbone, then use your fingers to twist and lift it free.

Place the bird breast-side up onto a chopping board. Cut down and through the thigh joint to separate the leg from the rest of the body.

Bend the leg back to dislodge the leg joint. When the ball is free from the socket, you will hear a pop.

Cut any meat or skin still attached to the body. Repeat to remove the other leg. Each leg can be divided into a thigh and a drumstick.

Fully extend one wing, then use sharp poultry shears to cut off the winglet at the middle joint. Repeat to remove the other winglet.

Grasp the backbone with your hands and break it from the crown (the 2 breasts and wings on the bone).

Using poultry shears, cut the lower end of the backbone from the remaining body.

Starting at the neck, cut all the way through the backbone to separate the breasts. The bird is now in 4 pieces.

Use the poultry shears to cut each breast in half diagonally, producing one breast and one wing. Repeat to separate the other breast.

Cut each leg through the knee joint, above the drumstick that connects to the thigh, to separate. Now, there is one drumstick and one thigh. Repeat to separate the other leg.

The chicken is now cut into 8 pieces. Leg and thigh pieces are the choicest cuts for slow cooking, although breast pieces can work well when left on the bone for stewing. The wings contain juicy meat that is excellent for pot roasting.

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