The Thigh’s the Thing June 4, 2009Posted by Toy Lady in Cooking, Cooking Challenge, Home, random stuff.
OK, I’m going to start out saying this: raw chicken is disgusting. Not that this is news or anything. I’m just saying.
You may already know this, and if you do, I’ll just remind you. I spent most of my teenage years on the proverbial “family farm.” A cow, a pig, a goat, a few laying hens, a couple of turkeys, geese, and ducks and some chickens.
Laying hens were for eggs. Chickens were for meat.
And let me just tell you – it’s not all that far from fuzzy little yellow chickies . . .
. . . to . . .
. . . stupid ugly chickens . . .
. . . to . . .
. . . dinner.
What can I say – that’s the way it works. But let’s face it, most meat is better when someone else deals with the, um, mechanics of it. I know all about the virtues of “farm fresh” and “organic” meats – first hand. Just leave me out of it. I don’t like plucking chickens – it’s not worth it to me. Just eeeeewwww.
So it’s taken a while to get comfortable with eating chicken at all – and I’ve pretty much always, since those days, indulged in boneless, skinless breasts. The flavor is much milder than the dark meat – the legs and thighs. And we all know that flavor and smell are interconnected, and let me tell you, chickens smell like . . . . . . well, you know. It’s not good.
So anyway. I’m not a huge fan of chicken in the first place, and definitely not of dark meat. Peeps prefers dark meat – it’s moister and more flavorful. And he’s right – especially when we’re going to want to cook something for longer than the five minutes or so that a boneless, skinless breast takes to cook.
Then, Wegmans started running their “leg quarters” for $.49 per pound in a 10-pound bag.
The last time I bought boneless chicken thighs, they were about $2.50 a pound. And that’s on sale.
Let’s look at this. 10 pounds of chicken for less than $5. Chicken that will actually stand up to cooking.
How can I pass that by, even if it does have the bones?
So I bought the leg quarters, brought them home, and set up my work area.
I’m going to split the legs from the thighs, bone the thighs, and save the bones for stock. The legs, well, they’ll be kept separate.
So first I prepare my work area. I always use the RED board for chicken – that goes into the dishwasher immediately when we’re finished.
I also have a bowl for the boneless, skinless thighs, one for the drumsticks, and one for, uh, everything else. Bones and skins, to be precise. And a narrow knife – I picked up this Henkel boning knife a few years back, and it’s nice and sharp – and maneuverable.
First, to help separate them, I sliced between the leg and the thigh, and, basically, dislocated the joint. It’s not hard – it just pops out when you bend them apart. Surly Boy dislocated his shoulder a few years back – it’s easy to do.
Then it’s just a simple matter of taking knife and slicing the two pieces apart – just run your knife between the two sides of the joint.
And you’ve got a nice, tidy drumstick.
Now it’s time to turn our attention to the thigh. First, I peeled the skin off as much as possible.
It’s still attached at the edge, so we’re going to need to ever-so-gently work it apart from the meat with the knife. I’ll tell you now – this is where knife-sharpening skills come in. Use a long, thing, sharp knife, and this is pretty much effortless.
Once you work the skin off of the thigh as much as you can – pulling and easing it away from the meat, then just slice the connective tissue off.
I know, gross.
Oh, but wait. It gets better. We now have a skinless, bone-IN thigh.
That’s not what we want. We want boneless.
And it’s really not all that hard.
Slice the thigh along one side of the bone, then the other. You’ll end up with, essentially, a blob of chicken meat on one side and a bone on the other.
Anyway, simply liberate the chicken meat from the chicken bone, with the aid of your nice, sharp boning knife.
And you’ll have a lovely, boneless, skinless chicken thigh, just like that.
And, of course, a big old pile of detris – bones and skins and fat.
That’s OK, though – I just dumped it all in a freezer bag, and we’ll make some chicken stock . . . one of these days.
So 10 pounds of of chicken leg quarters netted . . . 10 legs and nine boneless, skinless thighs, and enough bones and skin to make at least a large stockpot of stock.
All for less than $5. And about half an hour of my time. Literally. Half an hour.
Of course, we also have to clean up. We keep a spray bottle of “sanitizer” for just such an occasion – we dilute 2 oz. of bleach in 22 ounces of water. Everything – and I mean EVERYTHING – that even thought about touching raw chicken gets sprayed – the counter, the cutting board, the knife, my hands – every single thing.
You can’t be too careful with salmonella, you know.
So. If my play-by-play photos aren’t descriptive enough, here’s a video showing the whole process in live action.
I’m submitting this to Home Ec 101‘s Fearless Fridays – not because I’m afraid of raw chicken (which I am!), but because I think this is the first time I’ve actually boned chicken in over 20 years. . . and because it might actually be of some help to someone else!