Over the years, Jacques Pepin has honed this efficient technique for cutting up a chicken. His secret? He does as much work with his hands as with his knife, finding where the bird naturally separates, before cutting.
1. Break wings at second joint and use knife to separate them, leaving the wing bone attached. (Pepin reserves the wing tips for stock.)
2. Suspend chicken by its leg; cut through skin connecting it to carcass. (The weight of the bird, when it’s held off the board, makes it easier to cut.)
3. Pull leg back to pop the thigh bone out of its joint; sever leg at joint. Separate thigh from drumstick. Repeat on other side.
4. Make two small incisions on either side of neck cavity. Reach into cavity and pull out wishbone. This will make the breast easier to remove.
5. Set chicken on its side and place edge of knife along gap left by wishbone. Begin to cut breast from bone, pressing against contour of carcass.
6. Press down on carcass with knife and pull breast meat away from bone until it separates along its natural seam. Repeat on other side.