Butterfly the Chicken

I have many passions. I am often told that I seem wishy-washy and noncommittal because of how frequently I change my mind, but I don’t see this quality as a negative. I admittedly jump from idea to idea, from project to project, but that just means that I have too many loves to simply pick just one for the rest of my life, and that also means that I have a variety of experiences and random skills. I love this about me.

One of my passions is the culinary arts. I love cooking and baking and was, in fact, accepted to the French Culinary Institute in Manhattan for this coming December. I have since decided not to go (shocking, I know), but my desire to be a better cook and learn all the little culinary tricks and techniques has not wavered. With this desire propelling me forward, I thought it was about time I learned how to butterfly a whole chicken. Naturally. Actually, I just wanted to roast a chicken in less time than normal, and making the chicken lie flat makes it cook faster and more evenly. The solution: butterfly it!

After a defrosting snafu in which I accidentally turned my refrigerator into a freezer, I was finally ready to roast my chicken a day late and with a foggy idea of how this butterflying thing works. I am not the kind of person that follows rules and directions to a T (chalk it up to my adventurous, drive till I feel like taking a right nature) so after looking up a couple informative articles online, I took a raw chicken and some kitchen sheers and went to work.
I gathered that the main idea to butterflying a chicken is that removing the backbone allows you to open it up and lay it flat, giving it a butterfly shape. One article I read said to remove the breastbone as well, but that seemed like unnecessary work for what I wanted, so I didn’t do that. First, I removed the neck that they put in the cavity of the bird (yuck!) in case you want to use it to make stock. I did not, so I tossed it. Placing the chicken breast-side down on my brand new only-for-raw-meat cutting board, I cut along each side of the back bone with kitchen sheers. You are cutting through the ribs when you do this, so there was a fair amount of cracking and effort on my part. Once the backbone was detached, I tossed that too and then I cut off the extra skin that was at the neck and bottom. Before I could continue, I also had to dispose of the random chicken parts lying in the center of the bird such as the liver. After they were removed, I turned the chicken over rib side down so that it was laying, spread eagle if you will, on the cutting board. Then I placed my hands on the center and pressed down hard until the breast bone snapped.

Yes, it was gross and yes, it was messy.  But it was completely worth the ick.  The result: a perfectly flat, butterflied chicken. Ah, sweet success and one more piece of knowledge to tuck in my skill belt.


  1. I want to hear some cracking ribs next time. Maybe you could record a video next time!! ;)

  2. It's ok to have many projects going on at the same time! Well now, I am intrigued by your chicken, can I take a look at it?

  3. Silvia- I did not think to take pictures because I was not originally planning on posting this, but I have another chicken in my freezer, so I'll remember to take pictures when I roast that one and post them here!