To cut up a chicken for a stew or fricasse.
Nothing is more unsightly and unappetizing than a portion of chicken with the bones chopped at all sorts of angles, and with splinters of bone in the meat. All bones will separate easily at the joint when the cord or tendon and gristly portion connecting them have been cut.
After the chicken has been singed and wiped, and the crop removed from the end of the neck, place it in front of you with the breast up and the neck at the left. With a small sharp knife make an incision in the thin skin between the inside of the legs and the body. Cut through the skin only, down toward the right side of the leg, and then on the left. Bend the leg over toward you, and you will see where the flesh joins the body and also where the joint is, for the bone will move in the joint. Cut through the flesh close to the body, first on the right of the joint and then on the left, and as you bend the leg over, cut the cord and gristle in the joint, and this will free the leg from the body. Find the joint in the leg and divide it neatly. Work the wing until you see where the joint is, then cut through the flesh on the shoulder, bend the wing up and cut down through the gristle and cord. Make a straight clean cut, leaving no jagged edges. Divide the wing in the joint, and then remove the leg and wing from the opposite side, and divide in the same way. Make an incision in the skin near the vent, cut through the membrane lying between the breast and the tail down to the backbone on each side, remove the entrails, and break off the backbone just below the ribs. Separate the side-bones from the back by cutting close to the backbone from one end to the other on each side. This is a little difficult to do; and in your first experiment it would be better not to divide it until after boiling it, as it separates more easily after the connecting gristle has been softened by cooking. Take off the neck close to the back by cutting through the flesh and twisting or wringing it until the bone is disjointed.
Cut off the wish-bone in a slanting direction from the front of the breast-bone down to the shoulder on each side. Cut through the cartilage between the end of the collar-bone and the breast. Cut between the end of the shoulder-blade and the back down toward the wing-joint, turn the blade over toward the neck, and cut through the joint.
Blade is the hardest to separate. Remove the breast from the back by cutting through the cartilage connecting the ribs; this can be seen from the inside. The breast should be left whole and the bone removed after stewing; but if the chicken is to be fried you may remove the bone first.
It is not necessary in boiling a chicken to divide it so minutely, for the wings and legs can be disjointed, and the side-bones and breast separated from the back more easily after cooking; but it is valuable practice, and if one learns to do it neatly it will help in carving a boiled fowl or roast turkey.
In arranging a fricasseed chicken on the platter, put the neck and ribs at the left end of the dish and the backbone at the right end. Put the breast over the ribs, arrange the wings on each side of the breast, the second joints next to the side-bones, and cross the ends of the drumsticks over the tail.
Boiled fowl or turkey.
Fowls or turkeys for boiling should be trussed with the ends of the legs drawn into the body through a slit in the skin, and kept in place with a small skewer. Turn the tip of the wing over on the back. Cut off the neck, not the skin, close to the body, and after putting in the stuffing, fasten the skin of the neck to the back. Put strips of cloth round it, or pin it in a cloth, to keep it white and preserve the shape.
In carving, place it on the platter with the head at the left. Put the fork in firmly across the breast-bone. With the point of the knife cut through the skin near the tail, and lift the legs out from the inside. Then cut through the skin between the legs and body, bend the leg over, and cut across through the joint. Cut from the top of the shoulder down toward the body until the wing-joint is exposed, then cut through this, separating the wing from the body. Remove the leg and wing from the other side. Shave off a thin slice on the end of the breast toward each wing-joint, slip the knife under at the top of the breast-bone, and turn back the wish-bone.
Capons and large fowls may be sliced thinly across the breast in the same manner as a roast turkey. But if the fowl be small, draw the knife along the edge of the breast-bone on each side, and lay the meat away from the bone; the fillets will separate easily. Then divide the meat across the grain. Separate the collar-bone from the breast. Slip the knife under the shoulder-blade, turn it over, and separate at the joint. Cut through the cartilage connecting the ribs; this will separate the breast from the back. Now remove the fork from the breast, turn the back over, place the knife midway, and with the fork lift up the tail end, separating the back from the body. Place the fork in the middle of the backbone, cut close to the backbone from one end to the other on each side, freeing the side-bones.
The wing and breast of a boiled fowl are the favorite portions. It is important that the fowl be cooked just right. If underdone, the joints will not separate readily; and if overdone they will fall apart so quickly that carving is impossible. Unless the knife be very sharp, and the work done carefully, the skin of the breast will come off with the leg or wing.
A green goose neatly trussed and "done to a turn" looks very tempting on the platter; but there is so little meat in proportion to the size of the bird that unless it be skilfully carved only a small number can be served. The breast of a goose is broader and flatter than that of a turkey. It should be carved in a different manner, although many writers give the same directions for carving both.
Place it on the platter with the head at the left. Insert the fork firmly across the ridge of the breast-bone. Begin at the wing and cut down through the meat to the bone, the whole length of the breast. Cut down in the same way in parallel slices, as thin as can be cut, until you come to the ridge of the breast-bone. Slip the knife under the meat at the end of the breast, and remove the slices from the bone. Cut in the same manner on the other side of the breast. Cut through the skin below the breast, insert a spoon and help to the stuffing. If more be required, cut the wing off at the joint. Then tip the body over slightly and cut off the leg. This thigh-joint is tougher, and requires more skill in separating, than the second joint of a turkey. It lies nearer the backbone. But practice and familiarity with its location will enable one to strike it accurately. The wish-bone, shoulder-blade, and collar-bone may be removed according to the directions given for carving roast turkey. Some prefer to remove the wing and leg before slicing the breast.
Place it in the same position and carve in the same way as a goose.
Begin at the wing, and cut down to the bone in long thin slices, parallel with the breast-bone; then remove them from the bone. The breast is the favorite portion; but the "wing of a flyer and the leg of a swimmer" are esteemed by epicures.
The stuffing is not often desired, but if so, it may be found by cutting across below the end of the breast.
Geese and ducks are seldom entirely cut up at the table, as there is very little meat on the back. But often from a seemingly bare carcass enough may be obtained to make a savory entree.