Basic Technique: Butterflied/partially deboned Chicken [and Tandori Marinade Recipe]

Every cook should have some basic butchering skills: breaking down a chicken, cutting chops, filleting a fish, and frenching a rack of ribs are all good skills to have. One of my favorite transformations is a butterflied and partially deboned chicken. It cooks quicker and more evenly, and it’s a perfect way to seperate bones for stock from meat for eating. Here’s my method:


You can do almost everything with a good pair of kitchen sheers. I like the ones that split apart so they are easier to clean. The ones I have I got for free from a local grocery store. They’re made by Wustof and would run about $20 or less in a basic kitchen store.


First you need a chicken, a cutting board, and a knife (pairing would be good for the tighter spots).


Rinse and dry the bird thoroughly. Throw the giblets in your stock freezer bag… leave it on the counter so you can put all of the scraps into it and make stock at a later date.


First, cut out the backbone from the chicken.


Flatten the bird out…. If you’re in a hurry you can grill/roast the bird from here, you’ll even get more flavor into your roast by keeping the meat on the bone. However, I like saving the raw bones for stock and chicken ribs are somehow disgusting to me… In fact, I think they’re stupid… they dissintegrate and get all over the meat making it more difficult to carve… how much flavor could they add? Stupid chicken ribcage you have got to go! so I proceed with the following steps for nearly every bird I roast/grill “whole”.



I work from top to bottom on each side of the bird… Starting on the left side, I remove the ribs of the chicken, then the long thin bones behind the breast.


Next, you’ll find a “flapper bone” that connects the wing drummette to the wishbone area. trim around it and remove. Now, I try to trim most of these bones as best as I can while retaining as much meat on the body of the bird, but don’t get too crazy. You’re saving all of these scraps for your stock pot, so the bits of meat will be put to good use there.


Flapper bone removed, slide your finger down the keel bone… that white cartilage running down the center of the bird to release the breast/tenderloin from the keel.


The hip bone’s connected to the… thigh bone. I keep the thigh bone, remove the hip bone. It will be on the far outside of the thigh area. Fing the ball and socket joint and either make small snips with your sheers or carefully deconstruct the joint with your paring knife*


*I mention using a paring knife instead of a boning knife because I think everything in the kitchen should be able to be done with a chef’s, paring, and bread knife. These were the first three knives I bought for myself and they are still the most used tools in my kitchen. Now if somebody… say Global wanted to send me a 9 piece knife block, I’d gladly do a complete review and torcher test on their fine product…


Back to the bird… Repeat all of the steps above on the opposite side of the bird.


Then, look back at the top of the chicken, feel around until you find the wish bone. I just use my fingers to work it out of the surrounding meat.


Now you can not so gently rip out the keel bone, be careful to keep the breast as in tact as possible. Trim any excess skin and fat, Dry THUROUGHLY with paper towels (or even better, let a fan blow over it for 5 minutes) stick a wooden chopstick through the thighs, tuck the wing tips back, and cook however you want….


How do you cook it? The possibilities are endless.

you could salt/pepper roast it for about 15 minutes @ 425F, then let it go another 20 minutes @ 375F until the meat has pulled down the end of the drumstick.

Try taking your favorite sausage (chroizo, hot italian, linguisa…) and stuff it between the skin and meat… in the word’s of my friend Esther Kang… “I like pork with my chicken”

Or you could stick that sucker on a hot grill, skin side down for about 10 minutes then carefully flip and continue cooking until the end of the legs pull away from the bone… That’s a trick my mom taught me, it’s like a built in thermometer!


Of course, you might want to knock out a little tandori marinade and let it sit in a ziplock bag in your fridge for a few hours or overnight….


Tandori Marinade:

4g Cinnamon.

2g Cumin.

3g Coriander.

5g Black Peppercorn.

__ Toast spices in a dry pan until they’re fragrarent. Grind in spice grinder__


20g Fresh Ginger.

7g Cayenne Pepper.

100g smoked paprika.

7g Salt.

227g Plain Yogurt.

1/4 medium onion.

2 Cloves Garlic.

Juice of 2 Lemons.

Blend in food processor or blender until mostly smooth.





Bag it with the butchered chicken or meat of your choice… marinate for an hour or longer.






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