Chicken Fabrication (a/k/a Butchering)
Cutting up a bird is amazingly easy, and doing it yourself will save you a ton of money. It will take you a few tries to become an expert, and it may take the timid a while to get the hang of handling raw meat. But in my mind there is nothing I do in the kitchen that is more satisfying.
A bird will yield 8 pieces: 2 wings, 2 thighs, 2 legs and 2 breasts. For most dishes, the breasts are cut in half or in quarters.
Set the chicken breast side up on your cutting board. Pull one leg away from the body and cut through the skin between the body and both sides of the thigh.
Bend the whole leg firmly away from the body. The ball of the thighbone will pop out from the hip socket, and the you can cut between the ball and the socket to separate the leg. Repeat with the other leg.
Place the chicken leg skin side down on the cutting board. Cut down firmly through the joint between the drumstick and the thigh.
Remove the wing by cutting inside of wing just over joint. Pull wing away from body and cut down through the skin and the joint. Repeat with the other wing.
Cut through the cavity of the bird from the tail end and slice through the thin area around the shoulder joint. Cut parallel to the backbone and slice the bones of the rib cage. Repeat on the opposite side of the backbone.
Pull apart the breast and the back. Cut down through the shoulder bones to detach the breast from the back. Cut the back into two pieces by cutting across the backbone where the ribs end.
Cut breast in half with strong, steady pressure downward along the length of the breastbone. Each half breast can then be cut in half crossways, if the recipe requires it for even cooking.