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Cutting Bones with a Standard Chef's Knife


afn33282
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I was dying to test out my "new" knife.  Despite the Excessive Heat Warning I hiked over to the store.  I figured it was equally unhealthy to go outside as to sit in front of the computer.  Now a couple hours later I have two Cornish game hens, but absolutely no desire to do anything with them.

 

@Thanks for the Crepes I am amazed that you can sever the backbone neatly without collapsing the chicken nor cutting yourself horribly.  The video @btbyrd linked above shows the backbone being cut out much as I do it, except with much more finesse.

 

Cooking is cool.  And kitchen gear is even cooler.  -- Chad Ward

 

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7 minutes ago, JoNorvelleWalker said:

I am amazed that you can sever the backbone neatly without collapsing the chicken nor cutting yourself horribly. 

 

I've been doing it all along since I was twelve, and never cut myself. I use a sharp, thin knife, and use the structural integrity of the ribs and other bones in the bird to come in from the top of the back, through the skin. I grab the tail and just run the blade along either side of the spine away from me. Perhaps I'm doing it wrong, but it sure works for me. I make the initial incision with the point near my hand which holds tension on the spine. So not much downward pressure to "collapse" the chix. Mostly forward and upward pressure with a sharp, thin knife.

 

I will also say that I do not think I'm bad at cutting up a chicken. It's hard at first to apportion the skin properly over all the pieces, especially the breast, which needs it the most. I can honestly say that when I buy chicken pieces in the store that I usually do a better job with the skin allotment than they do, even though they are working with a bone saw. I sure am interested in how others do it though, because I did not realize my way of doing it was unusual.

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> ^ . . ^ <

 

 

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Googling around the web almost everyone uses kitchen shears.  A few go for the @Thanks for the Crepes method.  I didn't find anyone who removes the backbone the way I do it.

 

Then again The Japanese Culinary Academy's Mukoita II, which teaches the techniques of cutting poultry, will not be published until this fall.  I preordered my copy over a year ago.

 

Cooking is cool.  And kitchen gear is even cooler.  -- Chad Ward

 

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OK, after hours of searching blogs, reading books, and watching videos...I apparently learned my method from Richard Olney:

 

"Removing the backbone.  With the bird on its back and the legs pointing toward you, insert a large, heavy knife into the breast cavity.  Draw it down one side of the backbone severing the hip joint (diagram, page 14).  Open the bird and cut along the other side of the backbone to free it (above)."  The Good Cook Poultry (p48).

 

 

Pepin calls for holding the chicken on its side while removing the backbone (Essential Pepin).  Extra points to Pepin in his video for whacking with his chef knife.

 

Cooking is cool.  And kitchen gear is even cooler.  -- Chad Ward

 

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Tonight's dinner was half a game hen.  The Chicago Cutlery BT43 proved it's mettle.  The backbone popped right out and the sternum was not far behind.  No muss, no fuss.  The narrower blade of the BT43 was easier than a chef knife.

 

One thing I noted about Pepin's video:  he was using what I'd consider a very narrow chef knife.

 

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Cooking is cool.  And kitchen gear is even cooler.  -- Chad Ward

 

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I usually use a boning knife or big German chef's knife to deal with chicken bones. The German knife is just about burly enough to cut through the neck, if I'm getting chickens that have the head on. The standard technique is to place the back of the blade on the neck, between two vertebrae, and give it a thwop with your other hand.

 

I once made the mistake of trying to cut through a turkey neck with the chef's knife; that sent it to the repair shop. Now I have I have a $10 Chinese cleaver for the times I need to go through something a little bigger than chicken bones.

 

Basically ...

Japanese gyuto: no bones

Western chef or boning knife: up to and including fish heads and chicken necks

Cheap heavy cleaver: turkey necks

Hacksaw: anything bigger

 

Edited to add: the chef and boning knives work fine for slicing through the rib cage when fabricating chickens. Just make sure to separate the joints when you get to the bottom, rather than trying to cut through the pelvis (I assume that's what that is).

 

Edited by paulraphael (log)
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Notes from the underbelly

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  • 4 years later...
10 hours ago, JoNorvelleWalker said:

 

What about a deba?

 

 

I am talking about big thick tough bones. Bones like in pork butts. Bones you need a bandsaw to cut.

Cutting big bones using an electric saw, in addition to easy cutting, it also makes clean cuts, which gives you bone marrow to enjoy.

 

dcarch

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