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Category: Tips & Tricks

How to Break Down a Chicken in 6 Simple Steps

How to Break Down a Chicken in 6 Simple Steps

Knowing how to break down a whole chicken is a task we believe every home cook should conquer, if not completely master.

And while there are billion ways to break down a chicken depending on your desired end result or your recipe of choice, we thought it best to start with the most widely used instruction, which results in 8 distinct pieces: 2 wings, 2 breasts, 2 thighs, and 2 drumsticks. (AND a leftover carcass for making stock!)

Make sure your knife is sharp, your cutting board is clean, and bring a little bit of confidence with you — you’ve totally got this.

Ready to dig in? Our own Wesley Adams has quite literally broken it down for you, step-by-step, using one of our delicious Jolly Barnyard chickens.

PS – Scroll all the way to the bottom to see a video of Wesley demonstrating the art of breaking down a bird.


Use a sharp knife to slit plastic wrap surrounding the chicken. Lift the bird out of the plastic and, with the cavity pointing down, use your hand to open the chicken cavity, allowing any excess juices to fall into the plastic wrap. Discard juices and plastic.

Dry the chicken.
Using a clean dish rag or paper towel, pat around the chicken to remove excess moisture. This will make the chicken less slippery and therefore easier to handle. Similarly, wipe down your cutting board.

Remove neck skin.
Use your fingers to pull the neck skin out of the cavity and use a sharp knife to cut it. Reserve for stock or discard.


Pull and cut, using the joint as a guide.
Flip the chicken over so the breast side is down. Grab the chicken wing by the elbow joint and rotate it towards the neck. Doing this should reveal the muscle line where you will slice and sever the shoulder joint. Use this line as a guideline for your knife and make long slices as you continue to pull the elbow towards you. Slice until the wing is removed, and then repeat on the other side.

Break it down more.
If you’d like to break the wing down into smaller pieces (wing tip, flat, and drum) simply follow the joints again and use a strong, confident knife stroke. First, separate the drum from the flat; then separate the tip from the flat.


Scrape away meat from the front of the wishbone.
Flip the chicken over again so the breasts face up. Use your non-dominant hand to spread the breast skin tight, and pull away any remaining neck skin that might be obstructing your view of the wishbone (which is basically the chicken’s collarbones). Insert the tip of your knife into the backbone (resting against your cutting board) to use as a pivot point. Then begin to slide your knife into the V where the breasts meet and use the sharp edge of your knife to scrape along the right side of the wishbone. Once you can hear the scraping sound of knife against the entire bone, do the same on the left side.

Floss and pull.
Use your fingers to spread the breasts a bit wider near the V, revealing the wishbone. Then, using your index finger and your thumb, begin to floss the bone, working to releasing it from the surrounding meat and working your way towards the apex of the bone, or the flat part. Once you find the flat part of the bone, pinch and pull to remove the wishbone entirely.

Save for later when you want to make a wish!


Slice the skin between the leg and breast.With the breasts facing up, lightly slice the skin between the breast and the leg. Do not cut into the muscle yet.

Slice against the breastplate.
Beginning with your knife at the V, make long slices towards the tailbone, keeping your knife against the breastplate the whole time. (The breastplate is the bone runs along the center of the bird; currently facing up) Make sure your knife is running as close to the breastplate as possible, and remember to keep the sharp part of your knife pointing towards the breastplate instead of towards the breast.

Peel away the tenders.
Once the tender is revealed, use your fingers to gently pull the top of the breast (the tender) away from the breastplate so they remain connected to the breasts as they are removed from the breastplate.

Use your knife to remove the breast. Using long, confident strokes and following along the curvature of the carcass, slice the remainder of the breast completely off.

Repeat with the other breast.


Flip the bird over so that the oyster muscles are facing up and the feet of the bird are pointing away from you.

Pop the joints. Grab a hold of the entire leg — thigh and drumstick — and rotate the leg towards the tail to pop the hip joint. This will allow you to clearly see the division of the thigh from the carcass.

Separate leg from carcass. Maneuver your knife around the oyster muscle to somewhat scoop it out, as you continue slicing towards the joint. Once the oyster has been released, keep rotating the leg towards the tail and slice along the joint line, until the entire leg is released.

Repeat with other leg.

Save carcass for making stock. Hot tip: you can roast the carcass, leave it raw, or even throw it into the freezer until you’re ready to make stock.


Slice through the muscle line. With the skin side down, find the muscle line that runs between the head of the drumstick and the thigh. Simply slide your knife through the line, and use a little bit of pressure to, separating the two.

Repeat with the other leg.

That’s it!

You’ve got 2 wings, 2 breasts, 2 thighs, and 2 drumsticks — now, go cook something tasty.

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maddie July 1, 2020 0 Comments

Cooking Sausage to Perfection

Cooking Sausage to Perfection

Have you ever come home with a pound of your favorite sausage links, gone outside to throw them on the grill, and then cracked open a beer only to realize 5 minutes later that the pink and spicy insides were shockingly exploding out of both ends of the link? It’s an unsightly scene, and one that can really put a damper on the picture-perfect dinner you had in mind.

But the good news is, a scene such as that one won’t be making an appearance much longer.

Because your Bare Bones butchers want to ensure your experience goes swimmingly from meat counter to meal, we figured we’d offer a bit of insight on how to cook a sausage that’ll be social media-primed, if not completely cookbook-worthy.


1. Start them on low indirect heat; finish them on high direct heat

Regardless of whether you’re planning to grill your links or cook them in a cast-iron skillet, it’s your safest bet to start them on low indirect heat first, before hitting the high heat second. So, what is indirect heat? When it comes to the grill, it basically means sausage social distancing. Instead of laying down a sausage directly atop a hot flame — which, in all fairness, is something we would recommend when cooking a steak — try setting your sausage away from the heat to cook slowly. This slow and steady method will prevent the casing from shrinking too quickly, thus forcing the interiors to explode out the ends.

When using a charcoal grill, dump the hot charcoal onto one side and then use the opposite side of the grill as the indirect heat source. When it comes to gas, set the heat to medium-low and then give those links their distance by starting them on the grill’s upper level. Once the sausage feels firm to the touch, like it’s cooked through, then you can transfer them into the direct heat to get those beautiful grill marks.

And if the rain ruins your grilling plans? Throw your sausages into a room-temp cast iron skillet and transfer to a cold oven. Preheat the oven to 350 F and when it reaches temp, let the sausages continue to cook for another 4-5 minutes. Remove skillet from oven and remove sausages from skillet. Rest sausages for about 10 minutes, and then crank up the heat on that cast iron skillet and sear the sausages until they have pretty color.

2. Let them rest!

Just like you’d do with a fresh-off-the-grill ribeye, you have to let sausages rest after coming off the heat. Think of the sausage fat like butter: when butter is hot and liquidy, you don’t want to touch it, much less eat it. But give it a few minutes to cool and it becomes a semi-solid, creamy and delicious substance. Sausage fat works the exact same way. Because high heat causes fat to liquify, allowing the sausages to cool before slicing or biting into them will ultimately keep all of that good, juicy flavor inside the casing and will also prevent any scalding hot dribbles from burning your chin. Let them cool for 5 minutes minimum, 10 if you can manage to wait that long.

2. Cook them straight from the fridge

Good news: although you do have to wait for your sausage to cool down once it’s come off the heat, you don’t have to wait for it to warm up to room temp before you cook it. Although some schools of thought suggest that steaks and chops, for example, should be brought to room temperature before hitting the heat, it turns out this myth that has been disproven! And in reality, it just isn’t necessary. Besides, letting any meat sit at room temperature for too long puts them into “the danger zone” of temperatures where bacteria is able to thrive. And while a whole muscle like a steak wouldn’t breed said bacteria as readily, a sausage, which is made of ground meat mixed with spices and other ingredients, would prove a much better breeding ground for that kind of thing. So just keep them cold until you’re ready to cook. Easy breezy.

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maddie June 19, 2020 0 Comments

Living Their Shelf Lives to Their Fullest

A Guide to Understanding the Shelf Life of Bare Bones’ Meats and Perishable Foods

It is hands down the most common question we receive when helping customers place an order: “How long will it keep?”

Talk about a loaded question.

Unlike most commercial supermarkets and large-scale grocery stores, all of the meats and perishable items that we carry at Bare Bones Butcher contain none of that added junk that artificially prolongs the lifespan of your food.

So, when you’re used to purchasing foods that boast extended timelines due to the preservatives with which they’re produced, the switch to a natural, local food source —particularly one that wraps 90% of their product in nondescript butcher paper — can make things confusing. Without those “official” USDA labels on your refrigerated products, the questions and uncertainty about their expiration can pop up quickly.

So, when do you need to eat all that meat? We’ll get into that.

But before we dive into the nuts and bolts of when to cook this, and when to freeze that, let’s first talk about your storage plan.


“The best place to store meat is in the coldest part of your fridge,” says BBB owner and butcher Wesley Adams. “The drawers — like, the crisper or the deli drawer —create a humid environment that causes the meat to turn more quickly, so you want to avoid those.” That being said, typically the center of your fridge is the coldest and driest spot; store meats there to ensure the longest timeline possible.


If you’ve ordered meats from Bare Bones in the past, you’ve likely noticed our two-ply paper: one side is regular, the other side is wax. Wrapping meats against the waxy surface helps to keep the juices in, and keeps external moisture out. Called freezer paper, this stuff does excellent preservation work, so we recommend simply storing your products in the packaging we’ve provided. (And with a name like freezer paper you betcha you can use it in the freezer*, too!) Of course, if you prefer to rewrap it in plastic wrap or a Ziplock bag, that’s fine too — it’s just not super fine for the environment is all.

REMEMBER: The way in which your products are stored can have a major impact on the length of their survival.

Butcher Wrapping Product in Freezer Paper

Now that we know your storage won’t be hindering your meat from living its [shelf] life to its fullest, let’s discuss the average shelf lifespan of meat products here at Bare Bones Butcher.

To fully comprehend the timeline on your meat, you must first understand the schedule by which we receive it.

Think about it: we’re a small, whole animal butcher shop operating with a staff of five to seven humans. We aren’t getting pallets of meat delivered on 18-wheelers every day; we receive animals once per week, and what we get in is what we have to sell until the following week.

It goes like this…

Our chicken farmer delivers chickens to the shop every single Wednesday night at closing time. These chickens have a shelf-life of 7 days. So with that in mind, if you have one of our chickens in your refrigerator on a Wednesday, that means times almost up: you need to cook it or freeze it, pronto. See, since new chickens don’t arrive until after we’re already finished with the day’s orders, even if you picked up a chicken from us on Wednesday, it’s guaranteed to be last week’s chicken. You better roast that bird up, quick!

The same goes for our fresh sausages. New sausages are put into production every Wednesday so they can be ready to roll out on Thursday. This means that the sausages available for sale on Wednesday are on day 7 of their lifetime, so they need to be consumed or preserved within the next 24 hours. Cook them or freeze them tonight.

Make sense?

Dry aged meats like beef and lamb can withstand slightly longer shelf lives since the dry aging process removes some of their moisture, but beef, lamb, and pork are all cut to order in our shop, which means you have between 5 and 7 days on them. If you’ve passed day 7 and you’re just not sure? The sniff test is always a good rule of thumb.

With more surface area and therefore the ability to oxidize quickly, ground meats like ground beef and ground pork have a shorter lifespan than cuts like steaks and chops and can only last about 5 days, as opposed to 7. For this reason, we grind meat fresh on the daily. So when you pick it up from us, you’ve got 4 days at the least to keep it in your fridge.

Yes, it can seem complicated, but we want to make it easy for you!

Chart of Products and their Shelf Lives

*A Note About Freezing: Regular, weekly shopping is a far better course of action than mass-purchasing and mass-freezing. Not only does your hoarding-style behavior ultimately short your neighbor from the ability to purchase what they need (if you buy it all, what’s left for them?) but the act of freezing high-quality meat such as ours inevitably leads to shorting yourself. See, thawing frozen meat leaves the product devoid of moisture, which leaves you with a dryer product. So why go to all that trouble — and all that expense — of buying so much at once just to make both yourself and your neighbors suffer? Weekly buying is not only more sustainable from a farming perspective, but it’s better from an economical standpoint, too.

 *A Caveat to The Note About Freezing: Of course there are times when freezing makes sense — like, when you need to prolong the lifespan of something on the brink of expiration; when you’ve made a triple batch of beef bolognese in anticipation of a quick and easy meal someday down the road; or when you have an equally normal and mundane “I need to save this” excuse, freezing is excellent. But within the framework of “stocking up,” it isn’t always the best move.

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maddie May 29, 2020 0 Comments

Six Tips to Help You Master the Grill

6 Tips to Master the Grill

Punctuated by the likes of graduation ceremonies, beach trips, pool parties and picnics, Memorial Day weekend is the unofficial kickoff to summer. And while it’s typically spent celebrating with family and friends, as we lie in the narrow wake of a global pandemic, we have a hunch that the typical festivities we’ve enjoyed in years past will this year be rather limited.

But if we know one thing for certain, it’s that firing up the grill and cooking for a crowd [of any size] will never disappear from our MDW plans.


Ribeye Steaks on the Grill

Whether you’re celebrating the start to summer with just your dog and your roommate or your entire quaran-team of ten is joining you on the back patio, the pressure is ON to grill up a Memorial Day feast that you’ll be salivating over for years to come. Because…what else will we have to think back on fondly?

To make sure your skills on the grill will make a lasting impression, our very own Wesley Adams has offered up a few simple tips that will make your MDW totally lit.


While we can understand the appeal of gas grills, ten times out of ten we will suggest you use the charcoal variety. Think about it: the entire reason to use the grill is to impart that delicious, charred, smoky, woodsy flavor onto whatever it is you’re preparing. You simply can’t get that from gas. But our preference doesn’t just stop with the grill, itself. Great food begins with great ingredients; and when it comes to grilling, charcoal is ingredient zero.


And get a bag of the good stuff — not the dinky briquettes. Even though briquettes sometimes boast even, longer-lasting heat, lump charcoal has the ability to get hotter overall, which means a better sear for whatever you’re preparing. Furthermore, lump charcoal will not only impart deep, delicious flavor onto your food, but it will also help maintain the premium quality for which Bare Bones’ products are known. Because, did we mention? Chemicals and additives are used to produce those pellet-like briquettes. That means that if you opt to grill with them, your food will be made with chemicals and additives, too. Gross. Who wants to ingest unnecessary chemicals? Not us.

Weber Kettle Grill

Lump charcoal creates a powerful heat gradient, which is a real game-changer when it comes to grilling. “As opposed to scattering the charcoal evenly across the bottom of the grill, I dump it all onto one side and leave the other side empty,” says Wesley. “That way I have one side that’s crazy-hot and one side that’s moderate.”

 This means you can grill directly on the hot spot to sear your steak or chop, and then move it to the indirect heat to finish cooking it through. Why? Because if you don’t finish it in the moderate heat, it’ll be undercooked or even raw on the inside; it’s just like if you seared a big steak on the cast-iron but didn’t finish it in the oven. Alternatively, with sausages you’ll want to start them on indirect heat until they’re fairly firm and starting to sizzle, and then move them to the direct heat to get some char and color. If you’d put the sausages directly onto the hotspot first, they would expand too quickly and explode out of their casings. No Bueno.


Using appropriate fire-starters to heat things up can actually make or break your grill out. Instead of using lighter fluid to set your charcoal aflame, we suggest stuffing the bottom of your fire chimney with brown paper bags or egg cartons (like those you would get from BBB), and then set the paper materials aflame to ultimately heat up the charcoal. This slow burn method will do exactly that: slowly and evenly heat up the charcoal.

Grilling Steak with Fire

The fact of the matter is, your grill grate will end up tarnishing and rusting over time. But by oiling the grate, you can prolong the lifespan of your grill and best of all, end up seasoning your grate like you would a good skillet. Simply drizzle some oil onto your grill brush and go to town right before you put the food on (if you don’t have a grill brush, you could also ball up some tin foil and drizzle oil on that.) Doing so will of course help the food not stick, but it will also prevent the rust from completely ruining your grill. That said, don’t fear the rust — just give it a little love.


We love grilling steaks, chops, drumsticks, hot dogs — all the meats; you name ‘em — but have you ever tried cutting an avocado in half, drizzling it with a little salt and oil, and then throwing it onto the grill to char before adding it to your green salad? What about pizza night over the flames? Or dessert al fresco? Perhaps your standard Caesar salad could get an upgrade by grilling quarters of romaine and then serving it more like a steakhouse wedge. Heck, the best way to get better at grilling is to just keep grilling, so you may as well have a little fun with it.

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maddie May 19, 2020 0 Comments