I almost always buy boneless, skinless chicken breasts but this week the bone-in chicken was on sale and I couldn’t pass it up. Unfortunately, my family won’t eat chicken with the bone in so I have to de-bone it before I cook it. Years ago a friend who was training to be a chef taught me how to de-bone chicken breasts. I was surprised at how easy it was once you got the hang of it. If you’re interested in learning, here are some photos that might help. They’re not awesome photos but hopefully they’ll get you started.
First of all, a whole chicken breast actually consists of two halves. When you’re de-boning, one of the halves is a LOT easier than the other. Unfortunately it seems like I usually get a package with more of the harder side, though. This package was no exception: one easy, three hard.
I like to use a small paring knife I got from Pampered Chef. You’re definitely going to want to use a small knife and the sharper the better. It’s also a little easier to de-bone the chicken breasts if they’re still just a little bit frozen.
Here we go!
The photo below shows the two halves. You’ll notice these pieces have the skin on. The first step is to remove the skin which is actually the easiest part. Take your knife and run it up under the skin, pull up and then start pulling with your hands. The chicken breast is in one hand and the skin in the other. It comes off pretty easily.
The photo below shows the easy side of the chicken breast. You’ll de-bone it from underneath – the bone side.
Take your knife and run it up under the rib bones. Then gently, using a sawing motion, cut the meat away from the bones. On the bigger end of the breast, there will be a small bone you’ll have to cut out. Then gently use your knife to remove the tender from the bottom side of the breast.
Now for the harder side. You’ll cut this chicken breast from the top. Using your knife, cut the chicken breast along the edge, between the bone and the meat. Your first cut will just be to get an opening. Then you’ll go back and start gently sawing the meat away from the bone. When it’s almost completely separately, pull the two pieces apart. You might have to deal with that small bone at the top, like you did on the other piece. If so, just cut it out. Gently use your knife to remove the tender from the bottom side of the breast.
And that’s how you do it. Hopefully you’ll get lucky and your package of chicken will have the easy pieces. I love when that happens!
Don’t be discouraged if you feel clumsy at the beginning. Just like with anything else, the more you do it, the better you get. Then you’ll have the benefit of being able to buy boneless skinless chicken breasts or bone-in – whichever gives you the best price!
Now here’s one final tip – something I’ve learned the hard way. Those bones and skin that you’re throwing away can really stink up your trash. The best way to deal with them is to put them in a bag, close it tightly and store them in the freezer until trash day. If you toss them directly into your trash can, especially in the summer, you might be sorry! No, I take that back – you will definitely be sorry!
So head off to your grocery store and pick up a package of bone-in chicken breasts and see how easy it is to de-bone them.