My HUGE and best advice I can give you is to buy a free range whenever possible (organic would be ideal, but let be honest not everyone can afford such a luxury... I know I can't...). You will really notice a difference between farmed chicken and a free range one. The smell, the colour of the meat and taste - you won't regret buying a free range bird! Most of the supermarkets now offer a free range chickens for a reasonable price - look for a good looking bird with big, plump breasts (always a good sign ;) ) and whole, unbroken legs are always a good indication of a nice chicken.
Once you have your whole bird at home you have to joint it - well I guess you can always roast a whole chicken, but how many times can you eat it before you get bored and want something different... ;) Jointing is nothing to be afraid of. First of all, if you're buying a chicken from a butcher, you can ask him to joint it for you, but if you bought one in the local shop/supermarket you need to do it yourself at home. The main requirement is a really sharp knife and some really basic knife skills. So lets start:
How to do it...
- if you intend to eat the skin clean the chicken from any feathers, use a kitchen torch to burn them off, that's the easiest way to do it,
- cut top ends of the wings, you can use them only for stock, they're really not good for eating (no meat to eat... ;) )
- lay your chicken on the back and cut the skin between the leg and the body/corpus of your bird, holding the bird push down the leg until you hear a click and feel the joint breaking, cut it through the joint to remove the leg completely, repeat on the other side with the second leg (you can further separate the thighs from the drumsticks: run your finger along the thigh bone until you can feel the joint between the thigh and the drumstick, cut through the leg joint)
- now you can easily make a 'crown': holding your chicken one hand on the breast and other pulling the end part down snap it so the back bone breaks, cut the lower back off wher it naturally broke, you're left with the crown (with wings attached)
- sit the crown so the wing joints face you and lift the skin to reveal the wishbone, cut in between the flesh and the wishbone in a nice v-shape so you can pull the wishbone out
- to get the breasts off: following the line of the bone run the knife through to the bone and let the weight of the rest help it fall off the bone while you encourage its release with your knife, when the breast has come away, hold it with the wing down and cut through the wing joint, repeat on the other side and you're done!
My favourite chicken recipes:
- Keralan chicken
- Spaghetti with curried chicken balls
- Roast chicken with olives and lemons
- Chicken biryani
If you have any ideas for other food related articles, 'know-how' posts DO let me know!