Deboning a Bird

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Let’s talk birds.  Small, medium or large.  NO feathers please!!  Unless the bird is a peacock or a pheasant with really gorgeous feathers, but that’s another post!  So back to birds.  There are a few recipes that require the whole bird, but the bones need to be removed.  Now modernly we could just use either chicken thighs, breasts or a combination with skin on.  Period wise, the whole bird was used and the bones were removed.  The bones were not trashed as we would do today but rather used to make a broth.  We’ll get to broth making another day.  Today it’s all about the bones!

Pick your bird.  I have pictures of small medium and large birds in various stages of deboning.  I started with quail.  I hate quail.  Lovely to eat…but 6 of the damn things at one time to debone just suck.

I know hunters who hate this part of the hunt as well.  It’s not because the birds aren’t yummy.  They are very very tasty.  The problem is they are SMALL!!!  This means small bones and small delicate slices needed to pull out the fragile bones from small fragile flesh.

First things first.  Remove the wings.

Then slice down along the breast bone.

Then move the meat from the sternum of the quail.

This is not a pretty picture.  If you’re squeamish you may want to ask a really really good friend to do this work.  I would suggest bribing with chocolate or a good steak dinner.  After deboning these, the friends may not want to see another bird for awhile even cooked birds!

The next step is to peel the back of the skin off the back bone.  This requires patients and a delicate touch.  You can’t just rip off the skin no matter how great the temptation.

When removing the ribcage and spine, you’ll need to break the hip socket.   The leg will still be connected just not to the back portion.

Next it’s time to slice down the leg bone.  This gets a bit messy.

This is actually a duck that I am removing the bone from.  The quail was a bit shy showing a little leg.  Once you get to this point slice through the connecting tissue.  Slice from ankle joint up to hip joint in one slice or at least in one line.  You want to keep the meat and skin portion in tact as much as possible.

Here is the quail with out bones.

As you can see this requires a delicate touch that I was not perfect with for so small a bird.

This is a deboned chicken.  This looks like some thing from a horror show but really it’s the legs and breasts folded back and the bones removed.

Deboned quail rolled over bacon (a different recipe yet to be covered).

If you are having to debone a bird for a recipe, no matter what size.  Give yourself lots and lots of time.  About 20-45 minutes depending on how much deboning has been practiced!  If you’re doing 9 birds in one sitting set aside 3 hours or a lot of bribery to really good friends.