Due to the coronavirus outbreak Leiths has made the difficult decision to cancel all planned courses (except our online courses) until the end of June. In these exceptional circumstances all students who have booked places on our courses will be offered the opportunity to cancel or reschedule their course. If you are currently in the process of taking a multi-part course, you will be offered new dates to complete the course later in the year. Of course we will be dealing with a high volume of calls and emails and we thank you for your understanding and patience during this unsettling time. We look forward to cooking with you at Leiths in the near future.


Boning out a bird before cooking makes it very suited to stuffing with any number of flavour combinations. Tightly rolled and shaped, boned dishes are simple to carve and highly portable.

...Bone a chicken

Step by step

1 Place the chicken, breast side down, on a board with the neck end away from you. Using a small knife, make a cut through the skin, down the middle of the carcass, from the neck end to just above the parson’s nose. Make a cut on either side of the parson’s nose.

2 Start to release the skin and meat from the carcass from the neck end, working your way down the length of the chicken. It is important to work your knife on the outside of the shoulder blade near the wing end of the chicken and to release and retain the oyster with the skin. The objective is to remove the skin and chicken meat intact from the carcass. Repeat on the other side of the chicken.

3 As the skin and flesh continue to be released, the thigh and wing joints will be exposed. Cut through the wing joint carefully, without cutting through the skin on the underside. Place your fingers under the thigh and thumb on top of it and pull the thigh backwards to ‘pop’ the joint, then release the joint with the knife.

4 Continue working down the side of the chicken, releasing the meat. At the top of the ribs the knife must be placed on the outside of a small bone to leave it on the carcass.

5 Scrape the breast meat away from the wishbone at the wing end and continue scraping until the false fillet and main part of the breast is released from the breast plate. Work your knife down the length of the breast bone, scraping away the meat at the point of the breast cartilage. Be careful in this area as there is only a very thin layer of skin covering the breast bone. By now the whole of one side of the chicken should be released from the carcass. Turn the chicken around and repeat on the other side.

6 Once the second side is released, all that should be holding the carcass on to the chicken is the skin under the breast plate. Hold the chicken carcass up and carefully release the skin and meat by carefully cutting along the breast plate. The knife must be kept as close to the bone and cartilage as possible to avoid cutting through the skin. The chicken will fall away. Put the carcass aside.

7 Now tunnel bone the thigh and leg and wing bones. For the wings, hold the last 2 pinions so the exposed joint is uppermost and cut around the exposed joint, then scrape the meat away from the bone. Turn the wing the right way up and cut through the pinion joint closest to the breast. Set aside the last 2 wing pinions that have just been removed. Turn the wing inside out again and pull the wing bone out and set aside. Repeat with the other wing.

8 Hold the thigh, exposing the joint uppermost, and as with the wing, cut just below and around the end of the bone. Scrape the flesh away from the bone until the knee joint is reached.

9 Cut over the ‘knee’ cartilage, allowing you to hold the thigh bone to release the meat from the leg bone. Cut away the meat from around the joint and scrape away the meat from the bone. Once the leg bone is fully exposed, turn the leg the right way and cut around the leg about 2 cm above the ankle to release the skin and tendons fully.

10 Turn the leg inside out and the thigh and leg bone should be able to be pulled through, rendering the thigh and leg boneless. Repeat with the other thigh and leg. The chicken carcass and bones can be used for stock.

11 Lay out the chicken skin side down on a board, feel over the meat for any bones or cartilage and remove. Also remove as many of the tendons in the leg and thigh meat as possible. Distribute the meat evenly over the skin to ensure there is an even layer of meat surrounding any stuffing. The wing and thigh/leg areas need to be brought inside out. You may need to cut into the leg meat to help distribute it evenly. Remove the false fillets and place between the breast, leg and wing areas.

12 Scrape the meat off the edge of the chicken skin towards the middle and trim the skin a little to remove excess fat and any overlap. You should be left with a rectangle of chicken skin covered with an even layer of chicken meat, both white and dark. The chicken is now ready for stuffing and rolling.

Part boning a chicken...

The chicken can be left with the wings, legs and thighs intact so that after stuffing it can be reshaped. Follow the steps for boning a chicken to the end of step 6, stopping before the tunnel boning.

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