This simple step by step for how to break down a whole chicken (for Caribbean stews and curries) will be your go to, I guarantee it. Using a whole chicken in a recipe is a great way to amp up the flavor. Butchering your own chicken is a great way to say money. This is a life skill and you won’t regret learning how to do it.
How to Break Down a Whole Chicken (for Caribbean Stews and Curries)
Knowing how to break down a whole chicken into smaller pieces is an essential skill for any Caribbean cook. In some Caribbean or ethnic communities supermarkets sell “cut up” whole chickens. This makes it really easy for the home cook. Sometimes you can ask butchers to chop up the chicken. This is especially true in halal markets. If you don’t live in these communities or have access to these markets the steps shared here will be essential to you. My technique for cutting up a whole chicken is very simple. All you need is a sharp knife, cutting board, tray or bowl and container to discard the unwanted bits.
Why you will love this method of breaking down a whole chicken
- Easy to follow: This simple, easy to follow method for breaking down chicken will make you a pro in the kitchen in no time.
- Saves money: It is cheaper to buy and butcher a whole chicken than to buy different cuts of chicken.
- Flavor payoff: Using a whole chicken in stews and curries is more flavorful than using just chicken breasts or dark meat.
Step by Step for Breaking down a Whole Chicken
Try these easy steps to break down a whole chicken for baking or prepping for recipes.
- How to Break Down a Whole Chicken (for Caribbean Stews and Curries)
- Why you will love this method of breaking down a whole chicken
- Step by Step for Breaking down a Whole Chicken
- Cutting up chicken for Caribbean Curries and Stews
- How to clean up after prepping raw chicken
- How to break down a whole chicken (for Caribbean stews and curries)
First cut the chicken in half, removing the backbone and setting it aside. I start with the breast side, then flip to the back.
Then working with half of the chicken remove the leg quarter. Then remove the skin from the leg quarter.
Then cut the quarter into thighs and drumsticks.
Next cut the tips from the wings, then separate the wings into flats and drums.
Finally cut the breast bone away from the breast, then remove the skin from the chicken breasts. Repeat all of the cutting steps for the other half of the chicken.
This is the typical way to break down a whole chicken but for Caribbean Stews and Curries we take it a step further.
Cutting up chicken for Caribbean Curries and Stews
For Caribbean curries and stews you will need chicken that is cut into smaller pieces. Some people will even chop through the bones of the thighs and the drumsticks. I avoid doing this so that small bone fragments don’t end up in my curries or stews.
To further break down the chicken, cut the chicken thighs into halves. One half will be all meat and one half will be bone-in meat. The score cuts into the thickest parts of the drumsticks.
Finally cut the chicken breasts into 2 inch chunks. Then remove the skin from the chicken back you set aside earlier. And cut the chicken back into 4 pieces.
How to clean up after prepping raw chicken
Wash all utensils, bowls and cutting boards in warm soapy water. Dilute white vinegar with a 1:1 ratio of water then spray and wipe down all surfaces. Wash and disinfect clean up cloths. Discard kitchen sponges if necessary.
It takes 10 minutes from start to finish to break down a whole chicken. Beginners will likely take a few extra minutes.
Buying a whole chicken and then breaking it down into different cuts is far more economical than buying individual pieces. You will not only save money, but you will have different cuts readily available for all your chicken recipes.
Typically you will get 8-10 pieces when you break down a whole chicken. Two or 4 wing pieces, two thighs, two drumsticks and two breasts. When you break down a whole chicken for Caribbean stews you will get up to 20 pieces.
How to break down a whole chicken (for Caribbean stews and curries)
- 1 kitchen scissors
- 1 sharp knife
- 1 cutting board
- 1 Large Bowl
- 1 Whole Chicken (about 5 lbs)
Cutting Chicken into 10 pieces
- Place the chicken on a cutting board on a flat surface. Using a sharp knife or kitchen scissors cut out and remove the back bone of the chicken and set it aside. Then cut the chicken down the breast bone. You should have two halves.
- Working with one half, cut the chicken leg quarter away from the half. Then remove the skin from the leg quarters by pulling it away from the flesh, then cutting off any excess. Cut the leg quarter into two separating the thigh and the drumstick.
- Cut the wings from the breast. Then cut off the wing tip and discard. Next cut the wings into flats and drums.
- Finally cut the breast bone away from the breast, then remove the skin from the chicken breasts. Repeat all of the cutting steps to this point for other half of the chicken. You now have1 0 chicken pieces.
Cutting Chicken for Caribbean Stews and Curries
- To further break down the chicken into manageable pieces for stews and curries, cut the thighs into halves. One half will be boneless and another will be bone in. No need to chop the bone.
- Add slits to the thickest part of the drumsticks. This helps it to cook evenly with all the other pieces of chicken. Then cut the breast into 2 inch chunks.
- Remove the skin from the chicken back you set aside earlier, by gliding your knife under the skin (between skin and bone) and carefully cutting away the skin and excess fat. Then cut the back bone into 2 inch pieces. The back bones are soft and jointed bones. Place the backbone on a flat surface, then press down with your knife to cut.
- Add your cut chicken to a bowl (a stainless steel bowl is perfect) and prep for your stews and curries.
- Secure your cutting board, but laying a damp paper towel under the bowl.
- You can choose to cut out the backbone first. I prefer to cut through the breast first, because the backbone provides a flat surface for the chicken to rest on while cutting.