I would like to make chicken drumsticks / legs (with skin on) easier to eat by removing the tendons and the fibula bone. Cook's Illustrated mentions this technique:

  1. Holding a paring knife just above the ankle and perpendicular to the bone, slice around the circumference all the way to the bone. This will expose the ends of about six thin white tendons.
  2. Using a clean pair of pliers, grip the end of each tendon and pull firmly to remove it. Repeat until there are no more visible tendons.

However when I use pliers and try to grip the tendon, they just slip. Is there something I am doing wrong?

I tried cutting the bottom tendon attachment and pushing the meat up and down and it is still very difficult/messy.

  • Is that the whole technique? It seems something is missing.
    – GdD
    Commented Jul 23, 2014 at 8:07
  • What type of pliers? Some are smooth-faced (bad for this), while others have ridges or bumps to improve grip.
    – Joe
    Commented Jul 23, 2014 at 16:03
  • @GdD That is the entire description aside from a short introduction.
    – Daemon
    Commented Jul 23, 2014 at 23:56
  • @Joe The types of pliers are not mentioned and I only tried with one I had from a swiss army knife.
    – Daemon
    Commented Jul 23, 2014 at 23:56
  • I often cook drumsticks a long time to let the collagen "melt away"
    – Ray
    Commented Jul 24, 2014 at 1:47

1 Answer 1


Based on your comments, the likely issue is with the pliers you're using. I doubt that the relatively small set included in a multi-function knife is going to have enough grip to hang on to a slippery tendon.

I'd try a pair of (very, very clean) needle-nose pliers, like so:

needlenose pliers

They're readily available and inexpensive, so it's probably worth getting a dedicated set for the kitchen; these are also good for other fine, messy tasks like removing fish bones. You should be able to get a much more secure grip on the tendons this way. If they still won't pull out easily, try wriggling them back and forth a little perpendicular to the long axis of the bone.

  • 1
    If you're going to go out and buy a set, I'd actually recommend medical forceps -- they're stainless steel, so you can clean them without worry, and the loops on the handles give you better grip if your primary hand gets slimy. (although my friends saw mine and assumed it was drug paraphanalia)
    – Joe
    Commented Jul 27, 2014 at 1:18
  • I have done this technique several times. Needle nose pliers worked very well for me. It is a very basic technique and pretty easy to perfect. Also, makes the fried or baked skin-on legs wonderful to eat.
    – user27424
    Commented Sep 29, 2014 at 23:55

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