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Chicken jointing at Recipease

by Ross Bruniges on October 10th, 2010

Whilst I immensely enjoy going out and being cooked for (if not only to miss out on having to do the washing up) I first really got into food by cooking for myself while back at University. I had gotten bored of eating cheap crap and thought it was worth seeing what happened when instead of buying things ready-made I put stuff I liked eating together in a pan and saw what came out. I generally look at a recipe in stages:

  1. buy ingredients,
  2. prepare ingredients (normally not much more than chopping stuff up),
  3. put together,
  4. cook,
  5. eat.

And then do the bloody dishes.

The ‘prepare’ stage can sometimes throws up something a bit more technical than chopping up things and, occasionally this can put me off and I get thinking of just eating out. Jointing a chicken is one such preparation, and I thought it was about time to do something about that; especially with the price of chickens nowadays. Recipease in Clapham Junction is a shop, cafe and cookery school run by team Jamie Oliver, where you can buy an evenings meal, cookery equipment or, much more to my interest – be taught a number of cooking skills or recipes. I have previously done a course in pasta making and, having now been twice I can highly recommend any of their courses. They are done in groups of about 10, come in at about £30 to £50 a person (though some are slightly more expensive, such as the Beef Wellington lesson) and the popular ones (chicken jointing, pasta and Thai Green Curry) seem to sell out rather quickly, so keep an eye out for ones that you might be interested in.

The raw ingredients – chicken, string and knife

For this particular course we were presented with:

  • a whole chicken each,
  • ingredients for stuffing the thighs (ricotta, spinach, lemon and garlic),
  • string for making a ballotine of chicken,
  • parma ham and sage leaves for a chicken saltimboca,
  • a boning knife (indeed the actual name of the course was chicken boning but I was worried to use that in the title as I don’t want to disappoint people coming here from Google).

We were initially walked through the jointing of the bird (the one skill I was really hoping to learn) then shown how to French-trim the breast and then taught how to truss the thighs (‘butcher style’); so we actually ended up getting three new skills in one lesson, BARGAIN!

The teaching was good (I was happy to hear that our tutor was a ‘meat specialist’) and if needed there was time to go over anything we were unsure of or forgotten, the teacher was always at hand. I was also rather hung over and was provided with a special orange juice to sort me out. We got to take home a mass of food: the chicken we had prepared (though if you want the bones be sure to ask for them as otherwise they get thrown in the bin), all the ingredients to make a sauce to go with each dish and, an added bonus, some nice white dishes with blue trimming (which normally cost about £4 a time). It was a good, fun two hours on an early Saturday afternoon… And even better news, having now eaten the dishes that we prepared, I am EXTREMELY pleased that both my girlfriend and I have the skills to make them again – they were very tasty.

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  • Neil Crosby

    Boning a chicken is definitely a good skill to have.

    I’m surprised at having to explicitly ask for the bones though – they’re the best bit of a bird! (Okay, they’re not the best bit, but they’re pretty damned good).