Getting to Know My Chicken Dinner

I was sitting at my kitchen table, my sleeves pushed up to the elbow, fingers covered in chicken juice and a huge knife in hand, trying to press replay on my computer without dripping any of the juice on the keyboard. 

What was I doing?! 

It all started a few months ago when I read the praises of buying a whole chicken at the grocery store instead of the prepackaged pieces. Having always bought the assortment of tenderloin pieces, I read intently as the writer talked about the merits: You can buy a whole chicken cheaper than when it's packaged individually by piece. Less chicken goes to waste, and you can use the carcass to make your own chicken stock. 

I watched a few YouTube videos of how to de-bone a whole chicken, and the chefs made it look easy: Cut. Slash. Snip. Done. They had the whole thing sliced up in minutes. 

So, I figured I'd give it a try. 

I picked up a whole chicken the next time I was at the grocery store, and took it home to discover the pastime of carving your own chicken. I watched a few more videos to make sure I knew what I was doing. With my confidence high, I cleared the kitchen table and decided to dive right in.

I soon realized that, like most things, life is never like how it's portrayed on TV (or YouTube, as the case may be). As I pushed and prodded the poor creature, memories of 9th grade biology class and frog dissection came back. I couldn't figure out where I was supposed to cut and tried to pause and rewind the video to get a better understanding. It felt like the videos were in fast-forward mode, as the chefs sliced and diced with super-human speed. It wasn't nearly as easy as they made it look. Perhaps that's why they're the professionals?

Whereas the videos took less than a minute for the adept cooks and butchers, it took me about 45 minutes of snipping and tugging and sweating (seriously) to finally get my chicken carved up, although one drumstick and both wings got mutilated in the process (not sure how).

I shoved the cuts into the fridge, and washed my hands about 5 times once I was done, slightly grossed out by the hands-on experience I just had with my dinner. (Not to mention the extra parts that rolled out from the inside of my dinner during the operation .) 

I'm all about "getting back to basics" in the kitchen and trying to learn how to do as much myself as possible. But I think with this endeavor, I was a bit over my head. I still think I'll try again in the future (probably with better instructions than a YouTube video), but when I went to the grocery store the other week, I went to the meat section and picked up my trusty old tenderloin package without a second thought.

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  1. this cracks me up for several reasons...i can totally picture the stop and go 45 sec video and mimicking as best as you can. Also because i've had my own battles to bear when it comes to deboning. It took me many many times to remember exactly what I was doing and how to actually do it. a lady from my old church taught me how and she showed me more than twice. Having really good knives helps the process tremedelousily. i usually only debone if i want to make a stock.

  2. Ha! Love it. The first time I cut up a whole raw chicken was the last time I cut up a whole raw chicken. I like to roast them whole, then use the meat for casseroles or pot pies or chicken salad, and use the bones for stock, but I'm not brave enough to attempt cutting them raw again.

  3. Hahahahahha. Carmen. I LOVE this. I love that you can be honest enough with your readers to say, "I tried this and it really didn't work and it was kind of a mess..." Haha...there are A LOT of people who would just fake it and try to make everyone believe that it went perfectly and then they cracked open a nice bottle of wine, etc. :) This will be my happy thought for the weekend. Here's to pre-packaged tenderloins!!!

  4. Lol, getting the meat off a cooked chicken is effort in itself - i can't imagine what it's like to de-bone a whole raw one!

    10 points for effort! (and comedy value)

  5. Ah thanks, everyone! I'm glad you appreciated my mini kitchen disaster!

    @atoodleleedo - I think I definitely need someone to give me an in-person demonstration. YouTube just does not measure up when it comes to this!


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