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Cook's Tips

April 22, 1998

Cutting up a chicken is a snap, and because whole fryers are usually cheaper than chicken parts, it can save you money.

Start by cleaning out the cavity and giving the bird a good rinse in cool water. This is also a good time to start dividing what goes to stock and what doesn't. From the cavity, save the neck.

Next, remove the legs, being sure to include the meaty "oyster" located just in front of the hip joint. Divide the legs into drumsticks and thighs by cutting through the knee joint. There is a white line of fat that shows through the skin that will show you where to cut.

Remove the wings (they can be left on the breast for some preparations, if you wish). There's little meat on the last joint, so remove it and add it to the stock pot.

Cut through the ribs, removing both sides of the breast in one piece. Place the breast on the work surface and press down, flattening it slightly and breaking the breastbone. Cut through the breast lengthwise with a heavy knife. For bite-size pieces, cut through crosswise as well, being careful to leave some skin attached to both pieces and to not press the fillet out from underneath. Place the back in the stock pot.

You can save time by buying cut-up chickens; they will cost more but will give you more flexibility. For a stewed dish like this, for example, you might want to use only dark meat.

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