There are several methods used to cut a chicken into four pieces (two breast-wing pieces and two leg-thigh pieces). Differences may occur based on how the chicken is going to be cooked or served, as well as the preference of a particular chef.
There is not one prescribed method but the following is a suggested approach:
Using a chef’s knife, cut off the skin between the leg and the breast, leaving a substantial part of the skin covering the breast to protect it during cooking.
Cut around the thigh and disjoint it to completely separate it from the carcass. Be sure to include the oyster, the tender oval of meat that sits in a hollow along the backbone.
Expose the thigh bone.
Make an incision through the skin and tendons near the knuckle of the thigh, chop off the cartilage, and scrape the skin back. This procedure, which fashions a more attractive presentation, is referred to as manchonner.
Repeat the above procedure on the remaining leg.
By making cuts on both sides between the spine and the shoulder blades, remove the whole breast section, including the bones, from the backbone.
Cut the breast section in half lengthwise along the breastbone, separating the whole breast into two equal pieces. Trim off any remaining cartilage.
Manchonner the wing tips.
Remember to save all bones, hearts, and gizzards for making stock.