It’s really not that hard. Well, it’s not the easiest thing, but it’s still a lot easier than cutting up a raw bird.

The point is, you can do it, and you can do it deftly. And afterward, you can walk away from the feast feeling proud. Okay, just follow along.

cut skin between breasts and thighs

Place your bird on a large cutting board. It’s nice to have one with a little reservoir border to collect juices as needed, but it’s not necessary. Try to move your board back and forth on your work surface. If it moves a lot, place a damp towel (or damp paper towel) underneath to make it stay put.

Time for the first cut. Go right between the breast and thigh. You are unlikely to mess anything up here. It’s mostly air around there. So just dig in. This should add to your confidence. Do the same thing on the other side, too.

separate legs from breasts

Once those first two cuts are complete, pull the top half of the bird from the bottom half, with your hands.You’re basically exposing the backbone, but coming at it from the front of the bird. At the only point that’s holding the two halves together, make one firm cut, separating top from bottom.

place portions back on rack

Place the top half of the bird on a rack on a sheet pan to get it out of the way. Anything that doesn’t need to be on the cutting board should go here while you work to make the process as tidy (and therefore easy) as possible. This pic is from later on and includes some backbone and other pieces, but you get the point.

separate thigh from backbone

Get down to business on the bottom half. Run knife between the thigh and carcass on one side and separate them. Repeat on other side.

remove drummies

Gently open up and pull apart the drumstick from the thigh. (This should be easy on a fully cooked bird. If it’s difficult to do, that’s a sign your bird might need a little more lovin’ from the oven.) Then make a diagonal cut between the bones to separate drumstick from thigh.

slice thighs

Slice thighs into serving pieces; leave drumsticks whole.

remove wings

Move uptown. Much like the joint between drumstick and thigh, gently separate wing from the breast and slice diagonally between the two to separate. Repeat on other side.

cut breasts from breastbone

Remove each breast from the carcass by cutting along the breastbone and slicing along it and underneath the meat, being careful to keep the tenderloin attached.

remove breasts

Cut the breast free. Repeat on other side.

cut breasts

Slice breast into serving pieces.

Marvel at your skills, and give thanks.

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