Poultry Fabrication

Poultry Fabrication

All kinds of poultry, including chicken, squab, duck, pheasant and quail, are of great importance to most dishes. Always popular and readily available, poultry, for the most part, is among the least costly of meats used for entrees and other menu items. Throughout this section, the fabrication techniques are demonstrated on a chicken, the bird most commonly used in dishes. These techniques can be applied to the fabrication of virtually all poultry types.

The younger the bird, the easier it is to cut up. They are usually much smaller and their bones are not completely hardened. The size and breed of the bird will also have some bearing on how easy or difficult it will be to fabricate. Chickens are generally far more simple to cut up, for example, than are pheasant. The tendons and ligaments in chickens are less well-developed, except in the case of free-range birds, which move freely about an enclosed yard or pen.

Although the procedure for boning a duck, for instance, is very similar to that used in boning a Cornish game hen, carcass shapes do differ from breed to breed. A duck has shorter legs and a long, barrel-shaped chest. The game hen, since it is small, will require smaller, more delicate cuts than a turkey. A quail, one of the smallest birds, requires all of a chef's skill and care to avoid mangling the tiny morsels of meat that cling to delicate bones.

The bones and trim remaining after fabrication can be used in a variety of ways - the wings used for hors d'oeuvres, any lean trim for forcemeat preparation, and the bones for making stock.

When working with any type of poultry, the chef should keep all tools and work surfaces scrupulously clean because of the potential for cross-contamination. Follow all of the proper procedures for working with potentially hazardous foods. The following standards must be adhered to strictly -

  • Keep poultry iced and under refrigeration when it is not being fabricated.

  • Be sure that the cutting board has been thoroughly cleaned and sanitized before and after using it to cut up poultry.

  • Clean and sanitize knives, poultry shears and the steel before and after cutting poultry.

  • Store poultry in clean, leak-proof containers, and do not place poultry above any cooked meats. If the poultry drips on the food below it, it will become contaminated. For added safety, it may be a good idea to place a drip pan underneath the container holding the poultry.

The essential tools for cutting up poultry are a clean work surface, a boning knife, and a chef's knife. Some chefs are comfortable using poultry shears to cut through joints and smaller bones. Others may prefer to use a cleaver.

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