How to Debone a Chicken

Legendary chef Jacques Pepin introduces the proper way to debone a whole chicken.
By: Chef Jacques Pepin

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Techniques: Deboning A Chicken
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A galantine is a boned bird, usually a duck or chicken, filled with a force-meat mixture and alternate layers of liver, truffles and the like. The boned, stuffed bird is poached in broth, cooled off and served with its own aspic. A ballottine is essentially the same except the stuffed bird is roasted instead of poached and served hot with a sauce. A simplified version, the poulet en saucisse, is not quite a galantine or a ballottine, but it partakes of both. The most tedious part of the preparation is boning (aka deboning) the chicken. The meat is completely separated from the carcass and left in one piece.

1) Using a 3-to-3-1/4 lb. roasting chicken, remove the wings at the second joint and reserve. Lift up the skin of the neck to expose the flesh, and using the point of a small knife, follow the contour of the wishbone to get it loose.

2) Pull the wishbone out.

3) Place the chicken on its breast and cut down the backbone to expose the meat.

4) Following the carcass with your knife, begin cutting the meat from the bone. Cut the joint at the shoulder. Cut on top and around the breastbone and down on the other side. This is not really complicated; you simply separate the meat from the bone as you go. Don't worry about the leg, shoulder and the wing bones.

5) Remove the carcass in one piece.

6) Cut around the bone of the thigh to free it of meat. Holding the tip in one hand, scrape with your knife, -- pushing -- the meat from the bone. Separate the thighbone at the joint between the thigh and the drumstick. The drumstick bone is left in.

7) With a large knife, cut the tip of the drumstick and -- push -- the flesh back to expose the bone.

8) Cut the tip of the wing bones.

9) You will notice that there are 2 fillets loose on the breast. Pull them off and position them lower than the breast, where there is no meat on the skin. Most of the surface should be lined with meat.

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