Skip to main content

Video: Let the great Jacques Pepin teach you how to properly truss a chicken

The famous French chef shares his easy technique for trussing a chicken

If you’re like most people, you grew up watching the great Jacques Pepin on PBS, blowing us all away with his incredible culinary skills and captivating French charm. Not only was Pepin one of the original celebrity chefs long before The Food Network was even a thought, but his welcoming persona and warmth also make him the darling French grandfather we never had.

Pepin makes even the most complex recipes seem easy, and that’s probably because his focus has always been exquisitely delicious, beautifully simple food that anyone can make. There’s nothing pretentious about his skill, he’s too confident for that nonsense.

Related Videos

Trussing a chicken is one of the most basic kitchen skills that most of us stumble over gracelessly, but he demonstrates it in this video effortlessly. With an ease that would make any Michelin-star chef green with envy, he trusses his bird perfectly before bathing it in butter and roasting it.

If you, like most of us, have struggled with this process in the past, it’s time to take a lesson from the master himself and learn how to properly truss a chicken. While it isn’t a necessary step in cooking chicken, the advantages are twofold. Firstly, it creates a much tidier appearance. When legs and wings aren’t sticking out all over the place, the result looks much more finished and elegant. Second, by trussing poultry, you’re taking an awkward shape and making it somewhat uniform, which will help with even cooking. You’ve probably noticed that certain parts of poultry will cook more quickly than others, and trussing will help with even doneness.

Jacques Pépin Techniques: How To Truss a Chicken for Roasting

His first step is to remove the wishbone from the bird — a step that’s often neglected when roasting chicken. Pepin explains that this will provide a much more graceful carve when the chicken is done, delightfully adding that the wishbone can be a “pain in the neck.” Oh, how we love you, Jacques. The wishbone is removed by cutting two slits at the top of each breast, near the triangular hole at the top. After cutting these slits, he inserts his fingers inside to push the bone forward and remove it.

After removing the wishbone, he pulls the skin from the breasts over the top, tucking it underneath the chicken.

He then tucks the wings of the chicken behind its body. This is done by turning the wing tips backward, and resting them behind the back.

Next, he grabs a generous amount of butcher’s twine, sliding it underneath the legs of the chicken before crossing the twine above. He then loops underneath each drumstick, and pulls the twine to close the legs. The next move is to turn the chicken over, breast-side down, running the twine along the sides of the bird, and tying on the backside, behind the wings. He expertly twists the twine a few times before tying a knot here, to ensure it will not unravel.

And that’s how it’s done.

How to truss a chicken, according to the great Jacques Pepin:

  1. Remove the wishbone.
  2. Pull breast skin over the opening in the top of the bird, tucking it underneath.
  3. Tuck wings back.
  4. Using butcher’s twine, wrap the legs of the chicken, pulling them closed.
  5. Flip the chicken over, running the twine down the sides, and tie a knot behind the chicken’s back.

Editors' Recommendations

How to reheat tamales: Learn the secret to every method
Enjoy tamales just as much the second time around
Our Place tamales.

Tamales are one of the tastiest and most popular dishes for a night out on the town, complete with a few frosty margaritas. A traditional Mesoamerican dish, tamales are stuffed with meats or beans and cheese and wrapped in a banana leaf or a corn husk. Steamed and served with pico de gallo and rice, they make for a delightful dish that's easy to make and packed with flavor and spice.

Tamales are easy to prepare and a great option to make ahead of time and reheat for a quick meal on the go. Whether homemade or store-bought, there are a few tips you'll want to know when reheating them so that you can savor all the goodness these little flavor pouches have to offer. Whether you want to use a steamer, microwave, stove, oven, or air fryer, here are the best ways to make sure you get the perfect hot tamale.

Read more
Corned beef and cabbage: Learn how to make this St. Patrick’s Day classic
It isn't St. Patrick's Day without a cold pint and a big plate of corned beef and cabbage
best corned beef and cabbage recipe 2

As St. Patrick's Day rolls around again, many of us will dutifully trudge to the grocery store, pick up our corned beef from the bulk display, head home and boil that piece of meat to death in the name of 'tradition.' Many of us are guilty of going through the motions of culinary traditions without giving a second thought to whether or not they actually taste good (we're looking at you, fruitcake). But in the case of corned beef, this is a real travesty, because this is a dish that, when done properly, is exquisitely delicious. One so good, in fact, that, if we knew better, would be on a weekly rotation, and not just an annual one.

Many corned beef and cabbage recipes out there call for a braise, which makes sense. Corned beef is most often a brisket cut, which requires low and slow cooking to ensure a tender result. Too often, though, those braises turn out flabby, lifeless, flavorless pieces of meat that we only feel obligated to eat because St. Patrick told us to. Let's put an end to that here and now. This is how to cook corned beef and cabbage the right way.

Read more
This fish cooking trick gives you perfect crispy skin without messing up the pan
How to cook fish: The secret is something you probably already have in your pantry
parchment paper tip for cooking fish salmon

Fish is one of those foods that a lot of us don't often cook at home. It's finicky, sometimes tricky to get just right, and often sticks in a way that makes you want to just throw the damned pan in the garbage can instead of the sink for two days of soaking. If these frustrations are familiar to you, take a deep breath. We're here with a solution.

This clever little hack from ChefSteps is here to save your cookware and your sanity with just one quick and easy addition to your fish cooking process — parchment paper. Parchment paper, that humble little sheet that helps your cookies bake perfectly, can also save your pans from a sticky fish fiasco.
How to cook fish with perfectly crispy skin and zero frustrating clean-up

Read more