Chicken cuts – uses

Chicken is the meat from the most common type of domesticated fowl and is one of the largest meat producing industries in the world. Poultry farming is the single biggest sector of the South African agricultural economy and plays a huge role as the primary source of protein for the majority of South Africans. All parts of the chicken are used and utilized, including offal, and can be braaied, stewed, curried or grilled.

Whole chickens

Whole chickens always work well as a family roast with vegetables like carrots, potatoes and butternut. They can also be split along the backbone, marinated and grilled over a fire in the oven as a flatty or spatchcock chicken.

Recommended methods: Roasted in the oven, spatchcocked, marinated and grilled.

1  Wings

The whole chicken wing is an all-white meat portion composed of three sections: the drumette, mid-section and tip. Wings work fantastically as a snack or starter especially with a sweet and sticky sauce or marinade. Grilled or put onto the braai they are delicious.

Recommended methods: Marinated and grilled braaied.

2  Breast and tenderloin

Chicken breast must be the most versatile meat.  It is a white meat with very little fat and it is the perfect cut to slice up in stir-fries, marinate and grill, pan-fry or oven roast, filled with your favourite filling. Chicken breasts can also be baked or poached and used in salad, sandwiches or shredded and put into soups.

Tenderloins are a good option too. They are slightly more tender than the whole breast and are great crumbed and baked, or quickly chargrilled and tossed in a hot salad.

Buy as single chicken breasts fillets without the skin, with tenderloin attached, or with skin on. A supreme cut is the chicken breast with wingette attached and skin on.

3  Leg

The whole chicken leg is the drumstick-thigh combination. The whole leg differs from the leg quarter and does not contain a portion of the back.


The thigh is the portion of the leg above the knee joint. Thigh meat is also dark and like the drumstick, has a great deal of flavour. It is also as versatile as its leg counterpart, with a lovely firm and juicy texture. They can be put into stews, curries, casseroles or even put on the braai.

Recommended methods: Marinated and grilled or braaied, put into casseroles, curries or stews.


Drumsticks include the lower portion of the leg quarter (the portion between the knee joint and the hock). The dark meat of the leg or drumstick is regarded as one of the tastiest parts of the chicken. It is juicy and can be used in whole number of ways ranging from stew or curries, to oven baked and braais.

Recommended methods: Marinated and grilled or braaied, put into casseroles, curries or stews.

Chicken cuts


Guide to safe preparation and cooking of poultry

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