It’s that pivotal moment of any holiday dinner: turkey carving time. This year, instead of letting someone else steal your thunder, be the life of the party by learning how to carve like a pro. In just a few simple steps, you’ll have an attractive platter of delicious turkey to impress your dinner guests!
What You’ll Need
- Cooked Turkey
- Long, Thin, Sharp Carving Knife or Electric Carving Knife
- Meat Fork
- Cutting Board (2 would be even better!)
- Serving Platter
- Apron (If you’re wearing something nice!)
Step 1: Wait
About 15-20 minutes after you’ve cooked your turkey, to be exact. You don’t really want to eat the turkey right out of the oven anyway because it needs a little time to obtain its maximum moistness. Plus, it will make the whole carving process easier. Use this time to wash up so you’re not touching your guests’ food with dirty hands.
Step 2: Remove the Leg
Use the fork to stabilize the turkey as you cut, and remember to be gentle for the best results!
- First, place the turkey on a cutting board or surface.
- If the string or wire that has tied the two legs together is still on the turkey, remove it.
- Gently pull the drumstick away from the body.
- Use the knife to cut through the thigh at the joint. You can find where it is by feeling around with the knife for where there is no bone.
- As you cut, continue to pull the leg away from the body until you cut through the joint and it comes off completely.
- Although the wings are not traditionally served, you can remove them from the body by similarly cutting through the wing joint. No need to waste any meat!
Carving the Dark Meat
The drumsticks and thighs provide the dark meat.
- Now that you’ve removed the leg, hold it up by the drumstick end over a cutting board.
- Starting from the thigh and working your way up to the drumstick, slice meat off in a downward motion.
- As an alternative, cut the drumstick and thigh apart at the joint, carve only the thigh and serve the drumstick whole.
Step 3: Carve the Breast
Carving in Front of Guests (“Traditional” Method)
If you’d like to show off your carving skills by doing it in front of your guests, the fanciest way to do it is by cutting meat from the breast while it is still attached to the rest of the bird.
- Towards the bottom of the turkey (just above the wing joint), cut horizontally into the breast until you meet the breastbone in the middle.
- Starting from the outside edge of the breast, cut vertically from the top until you meet the horizontal cut you just made.
- Each slice will easily slip off, ready for stacking on a platter or serving directly to your guests!
Carving in the Kitchen (“Kitchen” Method)
There’s no shame in carving your turkey out of the public eye and having it ready to go on a serving platter for your dinner party! Here is a method that is even easier and will still help you achieve great turkey presentation:
- Cut the meat directly down the breastbone that runs down the center of the turkey.
- As you gently work your way to the bottom, the entire breast should slip off as one piece.
- Lay the breast on a cutting board skin-side up and slice into serving pieces.
NOTE: Don’t forget that you’re working with a very sharp knife. Any time you cut, be sure to cut away from yourself and your other hand in case the knife slips. Otherwise you’ll be carving more than turkey, and nobody likes a Thanksgiving emergency room visit!
Step 4: Serve and Impress
Now you’ve successfully carved half a turkey. Congratulations! Repeat the exact same steps for the other side and you’ve carved the whole thing. A couple more things to consider:
- If you can guess correctly, carve only what will likely be eaten that night. Turkey dries out much faster after it is sliced, so keeping leftovers in large chunks is in your best interest!
- Dark meat doesn’t dry out as quickly, so that is why it is carved first.
- Separate white meat and dark meat on your dinner platter. Try to arrange the slices in an attractive fashion.
- Bask in the glory of your perfectly carved turkey and hope your guests stick around to help clean up!
Used courtesy of Mahalo under terms of their license.