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The Thigh’s the Thing June 4, 2009

Posted by Toy Lady in Cooking, Cooking Challenge, Home, random stuff.

OK, I’m going to start out saying this:  raw chicken is disgusting.  yuck.gif 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 . . .

Photobucket. . . 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 . . . censored.gif . . . 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.

PhotobucketSo 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.

PhotobucketFirst, 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.

PhotobucketIt’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.

PhotobucketI 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.

PhotobucketHave I mentioned that raw chicken is disgusting?  🙄

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.  😯

PhotobucketOf 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!


1. anne - June 4, 2009

OK, ‘splain me this: if you started out with leg quarters, how did you end up with one more leg than thigh? 😯 I would be very afraid to see THAT chicken!

I like dark meat, too. White meat is dry and tasteless. Although I’ve never had the pleasure of experiencing the business side of a chicken farm. Probably won’t, neither. 🙂

Toy Lady - June 5, 2009

I know, right? There was this odd leg just . . . there. 🙄

I would assume that since it was sold as a 10-pound bag, they just hacked off the extra leg to get it up to weight. Some lucky duck probably got the extra thigh!

The thighs aren’t so bad, but I still can’t bring myself to eat the legs, though. They’re just TOO dark. 😯

2. Sonshine - June 5, 2009

Great job!

I am the same way with chicken–its gross, so I’ll stick to my boneless/skinless chicken breasts. Oh occasionally I’ll get bone in chicken breasts and drumsticks and a whole chicken but I gotta cook it first before doing too much handling of them. I also figured out that for my size family going the boneless/skinless chicken breasts route actually is cheaper for me.

Thanks for stopping by! 🙂

Toy Lady - June 5, 2009

Thanks. I’m finding, more and more, that the sort of chicken I want to cook just seems to need longer cooking – breasts do get dry if they’re overcooked. But I’m not going to abandon them, that’s for sure!

And thank YOU for stopping by, too. 😀

3. Heather Solos - June 5, 2009

Great job! I’m not a huge fan of chicken wrestling, but I am a huge fan of the savings. I get it 🙂

I usually marinate dark meat. I like the texture but there is just something about the flavor.

Toy Lady - June 5, 2009

You know, the thing is that, including cleanup, the whole job only took half an hour. So as disgusting as it was, it wasn’t any worse than, say, cleaning up after the dog when he’s got an upset tummy. 🙄

And to be honest, the flavor of the thighs in recent years is a lot milder than I remember – though I still haven’t tried legs. 😦

4. Monday Musings – 06.08.2009 « Dark Side of the Fridge - June 8, 2009

[…] bit here and there – we just use chunks of chicken breast – yes, I know, I’ve got thighs in the freezer! – and Peeps does just enough infused oil for the dish.  I’m not sure how long […]

5. judy - June 10, 2009

Personally I love the thighs and get them in packages at the store. My first mother-in-law lived on a farm and raised lots of chickens. Once a years all her kids (7) and spouses and their kids would descend on Grandma Kate for a weekend of chicken stuff while the boys would cut the hay fields for her.

I was 18 and after my first weekend I could cut up a whole chicken in about 3 minutes flat (no de-boned) and I still can, but I don’t. I also learned from Kate how to make real, honest to goodness yellow noodles cut with knives and dried on clothes on tables. Several sisters-in-laws made pies and at the end of the weekend we all went home with bags of frozen chicken and noodles and a couple of pies plus we ate like field hands. I will never forget that lesson in life. I left Kate’s son but I never left her until the day she died and we all met again to lay her to rest. A SUPER LADY.

and that is called a ramble! 🙂

Toy Lady - June 10, 2009

Judy, that actually sounds like a great time – except the chicken part, of course, but what do they say? Many hands make light work. 😀

I think it’s important to pass down these skills to our children – and grandchildren, though a lot of them are sadly being lost over time. People just don’t make the time anymore, and I don’t think they realize the intangible things they’re missing out on – like your fond memories of times spent with the extended family. 😦

So. . . wanna do a noodle tutorial? 🙂

6. Melinda - June 10, 2009

yes i would love a noodle tutorial, the chicken one i will use when the bad goes on sale here again. o use thouse bags for chiken and dumplings now, i do take off the skin but now i know the propre way thanks
ok i have to tell a funny story about my mom, now imagine a tiny little Mexican women4’10( she is the tallest of her sisters)well as we were growing up my mom never made chicken unless she got if off a farm just out of town ( i guess this was the organic farm in the 50’s and 60’s) her reason was that they put drugs in the chicken feed and the chickens so when we ate the chickens we were eating the drugs. makes sense right (she never connected it to cows thanks goodness, but we did eat a lot of venison and rabbit’s growing up)
so fast forward to the 90’s Jimmy my oldest was playing ball all the boys they were in a huddle my mom ask where is Jimmy so i said he is the little one that barley touches any ones shoulders. so my mom says very loud ” oh my those boys must eat a lot of chicken” and she proceeded to explain to the mothers how the chickens hormones made you bigger. my friends all thought she was just so cute a couple even made the comment of how she was ahead of her time in her thinking and one said she was a hippy, my mom was very conservative for the record.when she passed away a couple of these women went to the funeral and told this story, and how they switched to organic chicken since that day .
now of course the fact that she is so short or that my father in law is only 5’4 has nothing to do with jimmy’s height. lol it is one of my favorite memories of my mom.

Toy Lady - June 10, 2009

Hey, Judy! Wanna do a noodle lesson? We’ll figure out a way to make it work! 😆

Melinda, I’m with you on that – I never learned how to make noodles either, and I’d love to.

And I think your mom was probably right about the hormones in chickens – have you noticed how young kids “mature” (physically, not emotionally!) in the past couple of decades? 😯

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