Cutting a bird into halves is an especially
important technique for use on smaller birds, such as Cornish game hens
and broiler chickens, that are to be prepared by grilling. If the bones
are left intact during grilling, they provide some protection against
scorching and help to control shrinkage. This technique is also important
when birds are roasted whole, but served as semi-boneless halves.
The first step is often removing the wing
tips. Then the bird is cut down along the backbone using either a boning
knife, a chef's knife or poultry shears. The wing tips and backbone should
be saved to use when you prepare stock.
Removing the keel bone
Once the backbone has been cut away, the
keel bone is also removed. Lay the bird out flat, bones facing up. Make an
incision just at the top of the keel bone to release it. Then bend the
bird so that the keel bone pops out. Cut down the length of the breast to
finish dividing the bird into halves.
Preparing a halved bird to grill or broil
Birds that are to be grilled can be given an
attractive shape by removing the end of the drumstick using the heel of
the chef's knife. Then a slit is cut into the skin over the thigh. The end
of the drumstick is inserted, creating a neat, compact halved bird that is
easy to handle.