The Biggest Mistake You're Making With A Whole Chicken

One of the biggest mistakes people make when cutting a whole chicken — either to cook or serve — is carving or cutting it on an unstable surface. Serving platters or  smooth roasting pans can cause the whole chicken to slip or move while you're cutting. Before you ever start wielding a knife around a whole chicken, it's important to place it on a cutting board to ensure safety (via Kitchenistic).

People also tend to think they need a separate knife when cutting through bones or joints in a whole chicken. There is no need to switch things up while cutting the chicken. Simply keep going with a meat carving knife from start to finish.

The type of movements you use are also important. For example, use small motions and cut directly downward on the backbone. One exception is cutting the wings, which requires a diagonal angle. Apart from safety, improper cuts are the biggest mistakes most make with a whole chicken.

Have you ever used a wire rack to roast a whole chicken? This isn't ideal. While a wire rack works well, you can use vegetables under the chicken as a rack, too. Think potatoes, carrots, onions, and celery to create a bed for the main course. The reason we love this change is that it helps to flavor vegetables to serve as an automatic side (via All Recipes).

The basics of preparing a whole chicken

Many people simply buy pre-cut chicken breast because that is the cut of meat they enjoy most. Whole chickens, however, are a good buy because they tend to be cheaper than pre-cut chicken, and provide a host of culinary opportunities. Whole chickens are great for roasting as a meal, but pieces can also be used for braising, stews, and more (via Martha Stewart).

Naturally, the scariest part of buying a whole chicken is cutting it yourself, before or after roasting it. The first step of preparing a whole chicken is removing the legs and wings. Start by slicing through the skin between the breast and the legs. Pop the joints, or cut through them, and the limbs should separate from the body cleanly.

After that, all that needs to be done removing the breast from the back of the chicken. Similar to removing the limbs, cut through the rib cage and the shoulder joints to separate the two pieces. Once the breast is detached, cut it into halves and then quarters. You can cover the knife with a kitchen towel to protect your hand as you cut through the breast bone if need be (via Eating Well).

Lastly, if you so wish, you can cut through the joint of the legs to divide the thighs from the drumsticks. This is not necessary, but it will yield more pieces of chicken.