Many instructions for carving a roast chicken don't mention doing anything with the meat on the back. For example, Mark Bittman in How to Cook Everything, describes how to cut the breast, leg, and wing from the bird, but doesn't say to do anything with the back (other than, presumably, to put it in stock). The back meat tastes perfectly fine to me, although it isn't a large pretty chunk like the other pieces.

Why aren't there instructions on how to carve it too? Should I serve up the back meat? Keep it for myself? Use it as a part of some other cooking?

1 Answer 1


Back meat on poultry tends to be rubbery, inaccessible, and there is relatively little of it. The meat is almost like other dark meat but is found only in thin sheets. Also since during traditional roasting the back meat is down in the pan it tends to be less cooked than is pleasant for dark meat.

It isn't practical to try and carve it because it is a ton of effort for just a little bit of not-very-good meat.

After carving off the major cuts I will use my hands to pull off any useful scraps- including some of the larger pieces of back meat. I save these pieces for my standard poultry scraps applications: pie, soup, and enchiladas.

Whatever is left gives up it's goodness into the broth when the carcass is boiled and is then fed, with the spent carcass, back to the chickens.

  • 4
    And it's a wonderful way to make broth easily -- just save the unused bits from any roasted or baked chicken and put them in a pot with water to make chicken broth. Many butchers and grocery stores even sell chicken backs as "soup bones."
    – Martha F.
    Commented May 1, 2012 at 20:25
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    Retain the oysters before throwing anything into a casserole or stock - they're the most succulent, tasty part of the bird and are traditionally reserved for the cook to eat. Easily removed with a swipe of the thumb and placed to one side...
    – user51717
    Commented Mar 1, 2019 at 15:57
  • @Snow - Agreed about the oysters. They are about the only part worth carving off the back (and they are definitely worth carving). Other chunks of back meat can sometimes be picked off, but they're not generally "carvable."
    – Athanasius
    Commented Sep 22, 2019 at 3:45

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