This Video of Jacques Pépin Deboning a Chicken Will Make Your Jaw Drop

updated Jan 16, 2020
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Deboning a chicken — the process of removing the bones in order to cook it in certain ways — is one of those classic French culinary skills that everybody knows they should have, but most people don’t know how to do.

Unless you’ve worked in a fine dining kitchen, been to culinary school, or binged way too many old cooking shows, you’ve probably never even tried to debone a chicken. That makes sense: it’s not exactly a skill that comes in handy every day or one that you can just sort of feel your way through. There’s lots of tiny movements and little tricks to pulling the bones out without destroying the bird.

But Jacques Pépin knows all of them. And in this video that Redditors have recently resurfaced, he manages to explain just how to do this feat of cooking in clear language, with helpful demonstrations.

Pépin, who was famously good friends with that other star of French cooking on American television, Julia Child, came to the U.S. from France in 1959 to cook at Le Pavillon. He was one of the first deans at the French Culinary Institute, and had a variety of public television shows, including Jacques and Julia Cooking at Home.

In the deboning video, he makes something that is considered a test of complicated classic cooking training for professionals seem accessible to even the most amateur cook. With spatchcocking and various roasting methods gaining in popularity and fancy techniques falling out of favor, it might not seem like anything more than a party trick now, but it sure is a cool one. Once you watch the video and master the deboning, he also shows you how to stuff the chicken and roll it up in order to cook it, and if that doesn’t make you want to give it a try, nothing will.