“To glove-bone a Cornish hen or any bird, one typically uses a boning knife,” says Kendall College's Chef Mike Artlip. “For smaller hens, it is sometimes easier to use a paring knife.”
Here's the technique:
1. Rest the whole bird on a sanitized cutting board and begin by removing the tail.
2. Carefully insert your knife between the hip bone and skin, making sure not to cut or tear the skin. Move the knife along the back of the bird, separating the skin from the bones. Eventually you'll remove all of the skin and flesh from the central carcass. (It is imperative not to tear the skin.)
3. Turn the bird over and insert your fingers between the skin and the hip bones. Loosen the skin all the way to the front of the bird. Now, all of the skin across the back of the bird has been separated from the carcass.
4. Starting from the back of the bird, and using a boning knife, separate the thigh meat from the hip bone, moving from the back of the bird toward the ball-and-socket joint of the thigh.
5. Pick the bird up and pop the ball and socket joint so that the ball is free. Insert your boning knife between the ball and socket and sever the cartilage at the front of the joint.
6. The ball and socket will now be free of each other. You should be able to tear the “oyster meat” from the hip bone. The leg and thigh are then completely free from the rest of the carcass, encased in skin, all skin intact. Repeat with the other leg.
7. Once both legs and thighs have been freed from the carcass, continue cutting forward along the carcass, separating meat from bone all the way across the back of the bird until you reach the wings.
8. Insert your knife between the ball and socket of the wing joint, separating the joint. Now the wing will be free of the carcass. Repeat with the other wing until legs and wings are free and the only thing that is attached to the carcass is the breast meat.
9. Begin cutting down toward the breast on both sides, scraping the meat from the ribs, wishbone and keel bone. Hold the carcass in one hand as the meat falls away from the carcass as you scrape. At this point you will be able to remove the carcass completely, leaving the breast meat attached to the skin.
10. Now the center carcass has been completely removed from the bird. This includes both hips, backbone, all ribs, wishbone and keel bone. All that is left are the legs and wings, and yet the bird still looks intact. It can now be stuffed; a wire “support” can be inserted into the bird to facilitate grilling or the bird can be roasted, providing a semi-boneless entree.
Photos: Eric Futran