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Chicken Deboning for Beginners

Nancy Leson
All boned out and ready to go

This story originally aired Oct 24, 2018. 

Even if I'm going to cook boneless chicken thighs, I always buy the bone-ins and bone 'em out myself.  They're less expensive that way, and I get to save the bones in the freezer until I have enough to cook up some chicken stock. But up until, now I've never attempted to debone an entire bird.

Surprise: It was way easier to do than I expected and a lot of fun, too. 

What moved me to try?  Mandy Lee's irresistable recipe for Perfectly Butterflied and Crispy Skillet Chicken on her Lady and Pups website.  And I still wouldn't have given it a shot without her short, easy-to-follow video, included in the recipe, showing how to remove the bones from a whole chicken. 

If you're going to cook the whole chicken in a skillet, the bones have got to go, since as Mandy points out, "A bird is a three dimensional object.  The surface of a skillet is a two-dimensional plane."  I was so happy with the juicy meat and gloriously crispy skin this method produced that I alerted Nancy Leson, and she had to try it too.  But as it turned out, neither of us followed instructions exactly.

Credit Nancy Leson / KNKX
Nance served hers with oven-roasted cauliflower "steak."

Where We Departed From the Recipe

Mandy's recipe calls for a 2 1/2 lb. chicken.  I couldn't find one that light, so got a 4 1/2 lb., boned the whole thing and saved one half in the freezer for next time.

Nancy just used a 2 lb Cornish game hen she'd been saving in her freezer.

The chicken is cooked skin side down in a skillet.   Mandy says to cook the top (meat) side by basting with the bird's released fats and butter.  Maybe I wasn't patient enough, but that didn't seem to be working, so despite her warning to "Restrain your urge to overcook the meat," I did flip it for a minute or so to finish cooking and no harm done.

And there were a few other tweaks you'll hear about in the segment.  Nancy and I are both so glad we tried this and plan to make this again, soon.  She points out that it's ideal for a dinner party since most of the prep is done well in advance.  The actual cooking only takes about ten minutes.

"Boning is a pain but it makes such majestic chicken." –Daniel Boulud

"It's easy." – Dick Stein

Dick Stein has been with KNKX since January, 1992. His duties include hosting the morning jazz show and co-hosting and producing the Food for Thought feature with the Seattle Times’ Nancy Leson. He was writer and director of the three Jimmy Jazzoid live radio musical comedies and 100 episodes of Jazz Kitchen. Previous occupations include the USAF, radio call-in show host, country, classical and top-40 DJ, chimney sweep, window washer and advertising copywriter.
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