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More on Chicken

MY SHANAH RISHONAH  memories include chicken fights every Thursday. The prepackaged carcasses I bought to put in my soup were always stuck together. (Why did I never think of defrosting them?) The thighs were too boney, the skin kept falling off…but I kept at it. I hacked and sawed at those poor chicks every week until I figured it out.

Chicken Dissection 101

When buying in bulk, whole chickens are generally less expensive than quartered. They’re usually available in bulk  before Yom Tov, and you can often find kosher whole chickens in places like Costco too. Keep an eye out and take advantage of those sales, and you can end up saving a lot of money over the course of the year.

Chickens. They’re quite gross, and they’re annoying to cut and clean. But I promise you, as time goes on, you’ll get faster and faster at it. So slip on a pair of gloves, grab a sharp knife or a pair of scissors and a cutting board, and get chopping!

Cut down either side of the chicken neck along the spine until you reach the end of the neck and cut it off.

If your chicken is already spatchkocked, place the chicken on a cutting board, skin side up, and with the legs in front of you.

Pull one of the chicken bottoms slightly away from the rest of the chicken and cut into the skin where the thigh meets the breast. You should now see clearly where the thigh bone ends. Cut along the joint to remove the whole quarter. Repeat with the other side.

Turn the chicken over and pull gently at the side of one of the wings. Once the skin is taut and you can see where the wing ends, you can cut off the wing in its entirety. Repeat for the other side.

If the backbone is still in, here’s where you would turn over the chicken to cut it off. (I recommend scissors for this part.)

Lay the chicken in front of you with the breastbone showing. Push back both sides of the chicken breast until the bone is exposed. Find the middle point and cut through from the top to the bottom.

At this point, the chicken is completely split into pieces. If you prefer, you can also cut the drumstick from the thigh.

Now you can make chicken cutlets from the white meat, as follows:

First, remove the skin by pulling it off. It should come away easily.

Using a knife, carefully cut the meat away from the carcass as close as possible to the bone. (Don’t worry if you don’t get it perfect the first few times, you can use the bone with the meat on it for your chicken soup.)

Check to ensure there’s no extra bone attached to the meat before you start cutting it into pieces.

Gently guide the knife from the top of the piece to the bottom while ensuring that the thickness stays even as you cut. Alternatively, cut it into nuggets and use it for a stir-fry.

Didn’t work so well? That’s pretty normal. The first time I did this, my cutlets came out thick on one side and paper-thin on the other. I prefer to make chicken nuggets or fingers. They’re easier to cut and harder to mess up. Plus, little schnitzels are always much more fun to eat!

You might be asking yourself, Great, so I know how to cut up a chicken now, but why would I need to do that? What’s the point?

A whole chicken is more useful than you think.

Use the bones, wings, and neck for your soup, and the chicken cutlets and legs for dinner. How’s that for economical?


Easy and Economical Chicken Dinners

Grilling: Using an indoor grill pan or a fleishig Betty Crocker, you can grill chicken with very little effort and turn it into a delicious meal. Try a honey and lemon marinade for a tender, tasty dish, or sprinkle it with your favorite spices and place it on a hot grill. For the easiest recipe by far, simply add salt and pepper to taste and place on the grill plates. Delicious!

You can also add veggies to your Betty Crocker or grill pan. For best results, marinate the vegetables in the same sauce you used for the chicken. Peppers, zucchini, and fresh mushrooms taste amazing grilled this way. Don’t forget to cut a lot of veggies; everyone will want seconds.

Stir-Fries: White chicken is great in stir-fries. Mix with soy sauce, spices, and whatever veggies you have on hand to make your own stir-fry recipe. Try adding other ingredients such as honey, lemon, teriyaki sauce, sesame seeds, or whatever else you enjoy. The stir-fry is an all-in-one winner dinner that you can’t really get wrong.

Shawarma: Shawarma-style chicken is a great option. In addition to the shawarma recipe shared here previously, you can cut up white meat into bite-size pieces, add some premixed spices or a blend of your own, and call it artisan-style shawarma. Serve in a pita with Israeli salad and hummus. Have fun!

Schnitzel: There’s nothing like fried schnitzel straight from the pan — hot, juicy, and delicious. But frying schnitzel is a labor of love. Slicing, breading, coating, frying…not to mention the time it takes standing over the hot, hot stove frying enough to feed your family. (And then frying more because you don’t know when you’ll do it again.) Yes, definitely a labor of love. But  oven-baked schnitzel? It’s just not the same! Are we doomed to choose between sweating it out or eating oven schnitzel?

In theory, yup. But below is a recipe for baked schnitzel that can be adapted to give you that almost-tastes-like-fried-but-not-quite kind of taste. Try it, and you’ll be surprised at how good it is!

Tips: Never try to cut a frozen chicken, it just won’t work. (I learned that the hard way.) A mostly thawed chicken is fine, though.

If you’re short on time, dunk the chicken into a bowl of cool water. Keep changing the water so it doesn’t get too cold. It will defrost much faster, and it’s perfectly safe.

Use kitchen scissors or a strong, sharp knife. Personally, I prefer a knife.

Tips: To stop chicken from sticking to the panini maker or Betty Crocker, spray a bit of cooking spray onto the metal plates before adding the chicken.

Flip to ensure grill marks on both sides and keep checking for doneness. You don’t want to overcook it. How do you know when it’s fully cooked?
Pink = raw.
White = cooked. Use that as your guide.


Oriental Bite-Sized Nuggets

Adapted from The Balabuste’s Choice 2

This no-mess, no-stress dinner is amazing. The brown sugar caramelizes, leaving succulent nuggets and sweet veggies. The best part is that you don’t have to stand over the stove. Place your ingredients in the pan, and you’re done!


  • 2 chicken cutlets, cut into nuggets
  • 1 cup flour, to coat
  • 1 13-oz (370-g) can mushrooms
  • veggies of your choice, such as 1 red pepper, 1½ cups frozen green beans, or 1 can baby corn (optional)
  • ⅓ cup brown sugar
  • ⅓ cup oil
  • ⅓ cup soy sauce

Coat the chicken nuggets in flour (you can just shake them together in a bag) and place on a lined baking sheet.

Layer veggies on top of the chicken.

Mix brown sugar, oil, and soy sauce in a bowl and pour over chicken and vegetables to create a glaze.

Cover and bake for 1 hour on 350°F (175°C).

Once cooked, stir and serve over angel hair pasta.


Oven “KFC” Schnitzel

The spices in the breading mixture are what makes this recipe special. Without the deep-fry, you want the flavors to be more intense, and here you have it! Using ingredients you’re sure to have at home, you can’t go wrong by giving this easy recipe a shot. Thanks, Ellie U., for this fantastic recipe.


  • 8–10 chicken cutlets
  • ½ cup matzah meal or unseasoned bread crumbs
  • ⅓ cup flour
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp pepper
  • ½ tsp sugar
  • ½ tsp garlic powder
  • ½ tsp paprika

Preheat oven to 400°F (200°C).

Combine matzah meal or bread crumbs, flour, and spices in a large ziplock bag.

Dip each cutlet in water, then place two at a time into the ziplock bag and shake well to coat. Alternatively, mix the ingredients in a large bowl and coat the cutlets individually.

Repeat until all cutlets are coated. Lay them on a lined baking sheet. Spray generously with cooking oil on both sides.

Bake for 30 minutes on one side, turn over, and bake for another 10 minutes.

Alternatively, after they’re coated, you can dip the schnitzel into a shallow bowl containing approximately ½ cup oil. Then bake as above.

Enjoy not having to wash an oily pot!

Tip: As a rule, coating the cutlets in oil after breading will result in a crispy, fried texture with any schnitzel recipe. Alternatively, look out for recipes that contain oil in the breading when you search for that perfect oven schnitzel.


(Originally featured in Family Table, Issue 872)

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