Basics: Disjointing Chicken Wings Should Be A Snap

Posted: July 27, 1988

There never seems to be any problem in getting guests to polish off the chicken wings. The problem, if any, is in the initial preparation of the wings: taking the wings and disjointing them so you're left with one piece that's an elongated oval and another that looks like a miniature drumstick.

The proper technique is simple and easily mastered. A sharp butcher knife, a cutting board and an attentive eye are all you need.

To begin, hold the chicken wing so that it looks something like the letter V with a small extension coming from the top left. This extension is the tip. Place the wing on the cutting board and slice off the tip at the point where it meets the top of the V.

(The tip is virtually useless in chicken wing recipes, but don't discard it. Save the tips from all of the wings and use them with other chicken parts to make chicken stock. If you are disjointing a number of wings, say 15 or so, you can put the tips in a saucepan, cover them with an inch or so of water and simmer a cup or more of stock while you prepare the disjointed wings according to your favorite recipe.)

Once the tip is removed, hold the wing by the left leg of the V in your left hand (if you are right-handed), and rest the joint that hinges the two sides of the V on the cutting board. With the knife, slice through the skin that connects the two sides, just down to the bone.

Hold one side of the wing in each hand and bend the wing so that it forms a straight line. You'll hear the joint snap, and you'll see where the two sides are joined together.

The knife will easily cut through the wing joint at this point, leaving two separate sections - the long oval piece, and the part referred to as the drumette.

Repeat with each wing. Make sure that no slivers or pieces of bone cling to any section of the wings.

You are now ready to proceed with the following recipe for barbecued chicken wings from Gene Hovis' Uptown Down Home Cookbook (Little, Brown).


20 chicken wings, disjointed and tips trimmed away

1/2 cup whole-wheat flour

1 tablespoon paprika

Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste


3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

1/2 cup sherry wine vinegar

1/4 cup dry sherry

1/4 cup honey

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

1 teaspoon garlic chili paste (available in Asian markets)

Butter a large baking sheet. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Wash the wings and pat them dry. Combine the flour, paprika, salt and pepper. Dust the wings lightly with the flour mixture, and arrange them on the baking sheet. Bake the wings in the oven for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, prepare the barbecue sauce by combining all the sauce ingredients in a small bowl, and blending them well with a wire whisk. Taste for seasoning; you may want to add more honey or garlic chili paste.

Remove baking sheet from oven, and drain off any fat that has accumulated. Spoon the barbecue sauce over the wings. Return baking sheet to the oven, and continue baking, basting frequently, for 25 or 30 minutes, or until done. Remove wings from the oven, and let cool briefly before serving. Makes 10 to 12 appetizer servings.

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