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Friday, October 9, 2009

How to Break Down a Whole Chicken + One-Pan Onion Chicken and Sausage

One-Pan Onion Chicken and Sausage
One-Pot-Wonder. Isn't that a fabulous phrase?

Anything that can save me from doing more dishes is music to my ears. I am a master at dirtying dishes, utensils, pots & pans, name it! But the groan that's issued after a dish is cooking and I take a moment to catch my breath and survey the room...well, that's monumental. So, every once in a while...I enjoy making a one-pot-meal.

Which brings me to this weeks theme at IHCC, that being One Pot Wonders (and currently focusing on Nigella Lawson recipes). This dish calls for a whole chicken, cut into tenths. This caused me to wonder how many people actually break down a whole chicken to get their parts. Remember when I told you how I like to keep up my butchering skills? It applies to a little ol' chicken as well as a cut of beef! I found a gorgeous chicken at the Farmer's Market and when I was talking to the farmer, she asked me if I'd like it whole or broken down. Whole, please! many people would say broken down? And why would they say it....because it saves time to buy it already broken down? Because they wouldn't have a clue where to even begin breaking it down? Because they don't own a good knife? Because they don't own poultry shears? Because they didn't know chickens actually came whole in the first place? (By the way...if not owning a good knife was your must go out and find one right away!!! It is the one essential tool of a chef/cook. I adore and protect my knives as if they were my children.)

Since it is a good skill to have, I'm going to show you how to break down a whole chicken...using only kitchen shears. Yup, regular old kitchen shears. Use your good, sharp knife if you have it...that's definitely the best way to learn, but using those kitchen shears sitting in your utensil drawer will yield perfect results, too! Begin by placing your whole chicken on a cutting board and flipping it over so the back side is facing up. Find that backbone with your fingers. Using your shears, cut down one side of the backbone, then follow with the other. See...easy so far, right? You can save that backbone for making chicken stock.
How to Break Down a Whole Chicken
Flip that baby over and locate the breast bone. While this is easier with a nice, sharp knife...using your kitchen shears, simply start at the bottom and cut your way up through the center of the breast bone. Now you have two halves.

All meat has natural "seams". It pretty much shows you where to make your cuts. Find the seam between the breast and the thigh and snip right through. Now you have quarters. Find the seam between the thigh and the leg...cut through. Yup, there's a bone, but you're basically cutting through joints...simple! Do the same thing at the seam between the breast and the wing.
How to Break Down a Whole Chicken
Now you have eighths. This is a basic broken down chicken...eight pieces. If you have a recipe that calls for tenths, simple cut the breast in half (the short way). Voila...tenths! Don't forget to snip those wing tips off...they serve no purpose any more...except to throw in the stock pot. You are now ready to cook your chicken pieces.
How to Break Down a Whole Chicken
I'm going to use them to make...

One-Pan Sage & Onion Chicken and Sausage
yield: serves 6

1 large onion
1/2 cup olive oil
2 teaspoons English mustard
1 tablespoon dried sage or 2 tablespoons freshly chopped sage
freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 lemon
1 (4-lb.) chicken, jointed into 10 pieces
12 sausages (approx. 1 pound)
2 tablespoons fresh sage leaves, chopped

Peel and cut the onion into eighths, and put into a freezer bag with the oil, mustard, dried sage, a good grinding of pepper, and Worcestershire sauce. Cut lemon in half, squeeze juice into bag, and then cut the halves into eighths and add them. Squidge everything around to mix (the mustard needs help to combine), and then add the chicken pieces. Leave to marinate in the refrigerator overnight or up to 2 days.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Allow the chicken to come to room temperature in its marinade.

Arrange the chicken pieces in a roasting tin, skin side up with the marinade, including all the bits and pieces, and tuck the sausages around them.

Sprinkle the fresh sage leaves over the chicken and sausages and then put the tin into the oven to cook for 1 hour and 15 minutes.

Turn the sausages over half way through to color them evenly.
One-Pan Onion Chicken and Sausage
And, if you're up for dirtying more dishes...add a side or two...serve!

-slightly adapted from Nigella Lawson

Choose flavorful sausages and season generously!