I’ve long wanted to post a chicken trussing video because there are so many silly videos out there that make it seem incredibly complicated.  Of the many good ways of trussing a chicken, Brian’s method here is solid and simple.  Brian of course is the co-author of Charcuterie and chef/owner of Forest and Cinco Lagos outside Detroit.

I must clarify something here—it was noted to me by Bob del Grosso, who documented it at the Culinary Institute of America—that the main reason you truss a chicken is to ensure a juicy breast.  That’s what the even cooking part means. If the chicken isn’t trussed, hot air circulates in the bird’s cavity and will overcook and dry out the breast before the legs and thighs are done.  If you do not want to truss the chicken, please stuff the cavity with lemon and onion, which will provide some protections for the breast.

But you should truss your chicken.  It tastes better.  It looks better.  And it’s fun to truss.  I recommend trussing chickens for the pleasure of it.

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33 Wonderful responses to “How To Truss a Chicken”

  • Natalie Sztern

    He has to be packaged and sold! Great great and even greater : a chef with a personality…truss a lawyer is just too precious…

  • Tags

    I thought it was for when you use a nut-based stuffing.

    After all, isn’t protecting your nuts what a truss is for?

  • Gary Allen

    At the CIA, every chef had his own method for trussing a chicken — and, naturally, each one (no matter how different from the others) was the ONLY correct way. However, none were as memorable as this. Bravo, Chef Polcyn!

  • Mary Alice Kropp

    ” I recommend trussing chickens for the pleasure of it.”

    Don’t tell that to the nine chickens in my backyard! :D

  • Adrienne

    The giggling by the camera man (ahem) is an excellent addition. I like how much fun you guys are having with this.

  • Stephen

    Any similarly thoughtful videos on carving said chicken?

  • Peter

    Every time I truss a chicken, it’s different. Everything is all shaped and protected, but it’s different every time. I’ll try this method the next couple birds and see if I can make it second nature. Great demo!

  • Matthew

    I do love our accents here in the Great Lakes region.

    It wasn’t clear in the video what he did with the neck. Did he put the neck in the middle of the knot?

  • Joel

    I think it is a cool coincidence that you posted how to truss a chicken today. The cooking channel just show Julia child’s roast chicken episode of the French chef. (i still watched it even though I have it on DVD) Julia of course trussed the chicken in the french manner with a trussing needle. Now I want to roast a chicken Great demo!

  • kristina

    The best part of this was the laughter of the person off camera at the end. I mean, I liked the rest of it too but I laughed out loud at that behind the scenes laughter.

  • Baydog

    Mary Alice: I can take care of your backyard chicken problem.

    I like putting the neck underneath the chicken to elevate it and in the meantime, it braises and becomes extremely tender from the juices dripping down and circulating around it.

  • Rois

    I just wanted to say thanks for this great video which (and I hope you don’t mind) I posted on my own blog.Last summer my husband and I taught a Chicken Butchering Class and 3/4 of our students did not even know how to cook the bird once they were home.
    Yeah,We know they put the horse before the cart on that one.

  • luis

    Good job. Very good technique. But the ultimate urban cook… Everything comes in pieces for the sake of convenience. But it kinda as someone suggested make you want to get a whole chicken for once and truss it a few times to burn the technique into the brain.

  • Jan

    Thank you for the wonderfully succinct and helpful video, I’ve been waiting for this! All cooking techniques should be so efficient and teachers humorous.

  • Mike

    That was a great demonstration. I’d love to see one on breaking down a chicken into parts so I can be done with buying pre-cut birds.

  • Dave

    I was taught a similar technique. Also was taught this “common sense’ tip: If you’re trussing more than one chicken or something much larger (i.e. pork roast) you can get the twine pretty messy with chicken/pork/beef hands. Either cut ahead of time (assuming you know exactly how long a piece of twine you need [I never do]), or place the twine in a sauce pan. It’ll keep the twine in one spot while you pull off what you need. No more diving with contaminated hands to catch the twine that you’ve just pulled off the counter.

  • Susan

    Fun video. The only time I do a full body truss on a fowl is when I want to rotisseree the birds on the grill. Otherwise, I just truss the tail and pull toward the cavity, loop it over the legs and tie them together, then tuck the wings. It’s easier…to me anyway! When I buy chickens, I ask the butcher for some string. They are nice enough to their regulars to share a nice length!

  • Chuck Shaw

    That was a great video and helpful. Cutting edge sense of humor and nice giggling in the background Michael.

  • Dean E.

    This is super-wonderful but for what it’s worth I prefer methods that pull the wings close to the body so that they don’t overcook or require removal prior to the rest of the bird. However I don’t see why that couldn’t be easily incorporated into Chef Polcyn’s method. Thanks for sharing the very entertaining video.

  • JW

    Trussing and buying whole birds has completely changed the way I view chicken. The transformation of taste in indescribable. I began purchasing whole birds about 2 years ago for the sole purpose of making stock (thanks Michael, the small batches simmering in a 190 degree oven was a breakthru for me) and I also discovered that bird on the bone was definitely the way to go!

    Carving a chicken is actually quite easy and there are several methods, I prefer to breakdown into 8 pieces where the wing is attached to a portion of the breast. My advice to everyone is practice…even if you “butcher” your butchering, the taste will be the same.

  • George

    Great video, great instruction. But I couldn’t help imagining Julia Child doing it in exactly the same words. Minus dropping the chicken, of course.

  • Baydog

    What’s LeBron’s favorite wine? “I want to go to Miaaaaami!”

    I hope Cleveland wins the title this year, although it’s not likely.

  • Murvet

    Chuckled right through it. But one advantage of trussing was not mentioned: Preventing the bird from looking like an obscene slut.

  • Nancy B

    Michael,
    Nothing to do with trussing…but I had to comment. Just finished reading The Making Of A Chef. (Yeah, I’m a bit behind the times!) Never thought I’d find a book about THAT CIA a page turner, but it was. Thanks!

  • luis

    Brian’s technique is great and I will try it soon. But tomorrow is World cup Sunday and It’s all about Spain the Netherlands and tapas for us.
    Next week I will get down to Normans and pick up one of their Organic chickens and I will truss it… maybe????… Hell my favority way is to butterfly it, then roast it in a really hot oven. Get it nice and crispy…I know… I am a bit of a maverick….Still I will roast a properly trussed chicken with potatoes properly prepared and have a feast of it. Cooking sure beats most everything else….

  • Chef Tom Schneller

    I teach the meat class at CIA and this is EXACTLY how I teach it (sans the musical reference!) Basic, fast and simple. Thanks for posting it. It will now be homework to view this.

  • allen

    Like my Mom always says, never truss a skinny chef!
    She truss me, boy howdy. I like simplicity, like how you skinned that deer with an atv on the No Reservations show. My simple method is to cut an incision on one leg where the tendon is leaving the tendon intact and put the bone of the other leg through the incision, the joint holds it in place. I just did a corish game hen brined with star anise, clove bay leaf white wine – (they fit in a 1 quart yogurt container perfectly and requires less brine than a large container), stuffed with lemon wedge, rosemary, fleur de sel, garlic and onion. Rosemary, butter, lemon zest s&p minced and pressed under the skin – easy to seperate with the back of a butter knife. Rosted over thin sliced yukon gold potatoes – it held together just fine and the flavors were great, less fuss and all the good flavor and moisture. The crispy potatoes with all the drippings are the star of the dish.

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