- It saves you money
- It gives you flexibility, do you need quarters? halves? all 8 pieces?
- You'll have leftover parts to make Chicken Stock
- It gives you a sense of pride
- You'll learn something
- You'll have an excellent excuse to go out and spend some money on a good boning knife or two!
You Will Need:
- At least one 4-5lb whole chicken
- A good quality, sharp filet knife
- Olive oil
- Cutting board, paper towels, anti-bacterial soap, large mixing bowl
- 1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
- 1/2 cup smoked paprika
- 1/2 cup chili powder
- 4 teaspoons garlic powder
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 4 tablespoons Kosher salt
- 3 tablespoons coarsely ground black pepper
To begin... Extract the birds from their packaging and rinse them in cold water, then pat them dry. Place one of the birds onto your cutting board, belly down, and then wash your hands. With your clean right hand (unless you're left handed, then you'll need to do everything backwards, like you usually do), pick up a pair of kitchen shears and tell yourself, "This is my scissor/knife hand. It will not touch raw poultry or get wet or slimy. It's sole duty for the next 15 minutes is to cut and handle knives and tools while the left hand does the messy work."
Chicken Stock. Things get a bit tough around the back of the rib cage, but you can do it! Take heart, squeeze a bit harder, and carry on... past the crunching noises you'll hear. With the backbone out, you can spread the bird open, exposing the keel bone. Do not be "mousy" or tentative with this procedure! Grab, pull, spank, spread, or manhandle that bird!
When you're finished butchering, it's important to stop and consider just where all of the germs from your raw poultry might be hiding. If you've kept your knife hand clean, that's the one you'll want to use to turn on the water, grab some paper towels, etc. Minimize the use of your "chicken hand" in order to curtail the further spread of what could be salmonella, etc. Take this moment to wash everything with anti-bacterial soap, your knives, board, counter top, and finally, both of your hands.
Start your fire, bring the cooking chamber up to 225 degrees. I prefer a smoker or offset charcoal grill for this, but you could use an oven. You could also use a propane grill (if you're too stubborn and/or cheap to spring for a real cooker) and just light one of the burners while keeping the chicken on the other side. Watch the thermometer like a hawk and keep things just under 250. Now, go back inside and wash your cutting board, the bowl, your sink, and your hands!
My smoker and I seem to have come to the agreement that it will take somewhere between 3.5 and 4 hours to finish the chicken. Using a thermometer is absolutely essential here! Breast meat is done at 160, and dark meat is done at 175. As soon as your chicken arrives at this temperature, take it off of the grill and cover it with foil to rest! Chicken does not get "safer" or "more done" if you leave it there, it only dries out and gets rubbery, so pull it when it's done! If it's done right, it will look like this (well, it will look like this after you've taken a bite out of it):