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Test Kitchen video tip: How to truss a chicken

February 3, 2012 |  2:55 pm

If you've ever roasted a whole chicken for dinner, or tackled the big task of roasting the turkey for Thanksgiving, you probably know the importance of tying up the bird, or "trussing."

Trussing tightens the shape of the bird to give it that appealing shape: forcing the breast plate out, keeping the legs crossed at the ends. Without trussing, the bird would just lie there, limp and sloppy-looking.

You can have your butcher truss a bird for you, but it's just as easy to do at home. Check out the video above, or follow the jump for a quick step-by-step.

If you have any kitchen tips or questions you'd like me to explore, leave a comment below or shoot me an email at noelle.carter@latimes.com.


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-- Noelle Carter

Video: Myung Chun / Los Angeles Times

Photos: Lacey Welland

1. Place the chicken on a large cutting board (preferably over a larger rimmed baking sheet to catch any juices) and give yourself some elbow room. Have kitchen twine ready.


2a. Fold the wings back behind the bird: Lift each wing and move it so it rests behind the bird along the back. This will help to move the breast plate forward.


2b: Flip the other wing behind the chicken.


3. Run a length of butchers twine (about 3 feet, depending on the size of the chicken) over the top of the bird, behind the collarbone but in front of the neck bone.


4. Lay the chicken flat and continue to run the twine along the sides of the bird, behind the breast but over the wings and along the outer edges of the thighs.


5. Tie the string around the tailbone (loop it behind, then cross the twine in front, tying the string together). Gather the legs and bring the twine up over the legs to tie together.


6. Cross the legs as you tie the string, tightening it. This will pull the legs toward the breast, forcing the breast plate up and out. Some cooks truss the chicken with the legs closer to the breast than the tail, so the cavity can be seen under the legs. I prefer to truss as shown -- with the legs tied closer to the tail. This makes for a nicer presentation if you stuff the bird, as the legs cradle the stuffing as it spills out of the cavity.


7. Make sure the twine is tied tightly. The bird is trussed.


8. After the trussed bird is out of the oven. To remove the twine, cut it with scissors or a knife. Gently peel back the twine -- it may stick to the bird;  peeling it back gently will help to prevent you from tearing the skin off your showcase.