Butcher that Bird – Not for the squeamish!

Howdy, individuals

So, it’s gone midnight and I’m wide awake, so what could possibly be a more obvious middle-of-the-night activity than butchering a whole duck?  We went shopping this evening and they’re on offer again (yippee!) and this did need doing really, as I’m away at the weekend.  It also gave me an excuse to use my brand new ENORMOUS chopping board from Ikea 🙂 And as I promised only the other day to provide some kind of tutorial on the matter, here it is.

Buying a whole chicken or duck is by far the cheapest way to eat poultry, especially when there are only a couple of you.  Just to note – this is only how I butcher poultry (I do chickens the exact same way).  I’ve had no training, so there’s probably another more “proper” way to do it.  But this works for me 🙂

Does anyone else think that this is worth the hassle?  Or am I being unnecessarily old-fashioned in my outlook?  Join in with the poll – it’ll be interesting to see what people think!


Gemma xx

Portioning a Duck

The duck before I'd hacked at it, with giblets and liver separated

  1. You’ll need separate containers for the various bits of bird.  I was freezing everything except the breasts, so they all went in bags.  I’ll be making paté with the liver (UPDATE – now made!), so there’s the paté bag, one each for the legs and breasts, and the last one for the “jumpy bits” – all the rest of the bird which I’ll make into stock.  If your bird comes with giblets, separate the liver and put it in the paté bag, with the giblets in the stock bag.
  2. Use your fingers to find where the thigh bone attaches to the body.  Move the leg around until the joint cracks apart (you may have to be a little vicious).  Cut into the skin around the leg, and separate the leg meat from the breast.  This should be pretty easy to do – it’s fairly obvious where one ends and the other begins.  Use your fingers as much as possible to avoid damaging the leg meat.  Cut apart the thigh joint and separate the skin.  Repeat for the other leg.

Totally legless! I'm a tiny bit annoyed that I misjudged the right-hand leg and cut off too much skin, but I'm sure it won't matter in the long run.

3. Cut the skin down the centre of the bird, and separate the meat from the carcass with your fingers.  Use the knife where necessary to cut the skin, but try and use your hands as much as possible to separate the meat very close to the bone.

4. Tease the breast away from the carcass right down to the wings, and use the knife to remove it from the body.  Try to keep the skin attached to the breast if you wish to serve it with skin.  If not, the skin can be added to the stock bag.

5. Repeat this with the second breast.  If there are any leftover bits of meat on the carcass, these can be stripped off with your fingers and added to the paté bag.

I managed to get the carcass pretty clean, even before I stripped it down.

6. Remove the wings, and add any reclaimable meat to the paté bag.  Add the wings to the stock bag, along with any skin remaining on the carcass.  Split the bird down the centre and flatten it to access the cavity.

7. Strip any meat which is on the inside of the cavity.  Place the jumpy bits in the stock bag.  Once the carcass has been stripped, break it down into smaller pieces and add this to the stock bag too.

The finished product. As I plan to freeze the bags, I will add to the stock bag any vegetable trimmings, herb stalks, jumpy bits etc to it before I actually get round to making the stock. I'll also roast the bones before I boil them, to intensify the flavour, and render off the fat which is great for roast potatoes!


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9 thoughts on “Butcher that Bird – Not for the squeamish!

  1. Jenny Lau December 1, 2011 at 9:49 am Reply

    Amazing, good work! Nose to tail is the way to go. I imagine you have a very good meat cleaver too!

    • clumsylawyer December 1, 2011 at 10:21 am Reply

      Actually, I favour a tiny little (but very sharp!) paring knife for more or less any job in the kitchen. Don’t quite trust myself with anything bigger 🙂 A Man, on the other hand, is very much of the bigger the better school of thought. Always gets knives for Christmas – he has something of an obsession. It’s nowhere near as creepy as that makes it sound though!

  2. Richard December 11, 2011 at 5:59 pm Reply

    I slow cook the whole bird, no cutting it falls apart after that

    • clumsylawyer December 11, 2011 at 7:49 pm Reply

      Ooh, delicious! I love slow cooking too (much more flavoursome usually). I only resort to late-night butchery when I want to cook the legs and breasts separately (as there are only two of us and sometimes we don’t fancy eating leftovers for days on end!). What’s your favourite way to eat it – classic British roast style, French, Chinese or something else?

  3. Majorie Crans December 12, 2011 at 4:10 pm Reply

    Thanks for the interesting read 🙂

  4. Johnnie Toso December 12, 2011 at 11:28 pm Reply

    Just wanted to post and say nice page, great to read from people with a clue.

    • clumsylawyer December 29, 2011 at 10:35 am Reply

      Hi Johnnie. I find it hilarious that you think I have a clue – I more or less make it up as I go along! Thanks for your support 🙂

  5. Margy Lupercio December 12, 2011 at 11:29 pm Reply

    sweet site, rss following now and wish to see lots similar posts soon.

    • clumsylawyer December 29, 2011 at 10:34 am Reply

      Thanks Margy. Perhaps I’ll do a new tutorial about boning out a different joint at some point.

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