Breaking down a whole chicken might seem intimidating for the average home cook, but its advantages outweigh the convenience of buying your favourite cuts individually. And, importantly, it requires only basic butchery that’s more achievable than you think.

For one, it’s a more economical choice – chicken breasts and thighs cost around 50 per cent more per kilo than a whole chicken at major supermarkets. It’s also less wasteful. When you DIY you stretch your repertoire to using the entire bird.

Enter Broadsheet’s new series, Meatsmith Masterclass, where Troy Wheeler – who co-owns the upmarket Melbourne butcher shops with leading chef-restaurateur Andrew McConnell – will guide you through the process of tackling different proteins. First up: chicken.

Never miss a moment. Make sure you're subscribed to our newsletter today.


Try Meatsmith’s recipe for roast chicken Marylands with buckwheat and chorizo salad.

Put the chicken, breast side up, on the cutting board: wings at the top, legs at the bottom.

Feel for the breast bone, running vertically down the centre of the chicken. Cut along one side of it – from top to bottom – as deep as you can without hitting any bone.

Open up the chicken, then cut along the ribs and through the wing joint to the board.

Rotate the leg to find where the joint connects, then cut through it to the board.

Separate that half completely by cutting from top to bottom of the chicken, as close to the carcass as possible, using your hand to hold the meat away from the bone.

Repeat the process on the other side of the breast bone, so you have two half-chickens. And a carcass – set it aside.

Cut each half into quarters, through the loose bit of skin connecting the legs and breasts.

Separate the wings from the breasts by cutting through the end of each wing bone.

Take the Marylands and separate the drumsticks from the bone-in thighs by rotating both pieces to find the centre point to cut.

You’ll end up with two wings, two breasts, two drumsticks, two bone-in thighs and the carcass.

Check out more of our Meatsmith Masterclass series here.