The anatomy of a chicken is something you need not be afraid of. In fact, if you are a carnivore or even of the omnivore sort, you shouldn’t be afraid of an animal carcass at all. This is the fact all meat eaters should face, that their food came from a fully moving, fully breathing, live animal – though we may easily forget these days when our meat comes pre-cut, pre-packaged, and pre-cleaned so that you almost don’t need to touch it if you try hard enough.
We have definitely fallen out of touch with food in its original form, but it is my belief (that shared with many great chefs, farmers, and environmentalists alike) that meat eaters should know where their protein came from and how it travelled onto your plate. The best excuse for practicing your butchery skills is during the holiday season, somewhere between Thanksgiving and Christmas where you can watch it being done once round, and practice for your turn in December. I understand that our usually fast-paced, business driven, city or suburban lifestyles often put limits on the amount we can cook. But we sometimes have to remind ourselves that cooking is second to one of life’s most essential routines, eating. Pretty important. So like anything, practice makes perfect, and the more chance you get to butcher meat the better.
We all have to start somewhere right? In my opinion, every meat eater should learn to break a carcass apart into its individual pieces, and the best way to do that is to learn from your local butcher. Many now offer butchery seminars where you might observe the breaking down of an entire lamb carcass, but for those who don’t have the luxury of time or money, you’re going to have to seek out your grandma, or even the help of the internet. Starting with something small like a chicken is advisable, then once you start to feel comfortable with its anatomy, you might want to climb up the ranks to carving the family turkey this year.
Here I have illustrated an explosion diagram of the different parts of a chicken that can be easily carved out. Practice with a roast or boiled chicken so that the meat is readily falling from the bone, or else you might have a tough time with a raw bird on first go. Good luck, and remember that the more familiar you get with meat the better.
/ Written and illustrated by Lauren Yates / Video soundtrack by Marcos Valle /