Turkey Carving Tips from a Pro

Turkey Carving Tips from a Pro

chef j So, you read last week’s blog and are all prepped to make a delicious Thanksgiving turkey, right? Now you just need to know how to get that bird from roasting pan to table! Chef J is back with some turkey carving tips to teach you how to do it the right way.

That lovely carving set you got as a wedding gift (you know, the one with the two-prong fork and thin knife), is pretty useless for turkey carving and will do more harm than good here. Sorry about that… You should have a very sharp carving or chef’s knife for this, along with a pair of tongs, and some good old fashioned fingers. Some vinyl food service gloves will help keep things clean and prevent your hands from getting too hot.

Turkey Carving:

  • Position your beautiful birdy on a carving board so that the ends of the drumsticks are pointing toward you, breast-side up.
  • Pull the leg up and out to expose the joint. Using the tip of your knife, cut through the joint and socket. Gently pull the drumstick away from the body while “following” with your knife; the leg should cleanly separate from the body with you doing minimal cutting. You know what a drumstick looks like! Now do that again on the other side. You can serve these whole to two lucky guests or slice them up to share the love. To carve the leg, simply hold the small end upright with the fat end on your board. Slice straight down through the meat and rotate, leaving behind the bone and connective tissue.
  • To get at the white meat, rotate the turkey, or your board, so that the wings and breasts are pointed toward you and the (now missing) legs are facing away. There is a ridge bone running down the center of the breast; start about half an inch to the side of center, slicing parallel to the ridge. Cut gently, letting the rib cage guide your knife as you slice all the way through toward your cutting board while pulling the meat away in one large piece. Repeat for the other side. You will have two breast pieces and a relatively clean rib cage (don’t worry if there is a bit of meat left behind). Now you can slice the breast meat against the grain into ¼ to ½ inch pieces.
  • Flip the turkey over, breast side down, and position it so that the leg-end is facing you. Pull the wings away from the body to expose the joint. Cut through the joint and socket just like you did with the leg.
  • Starting just below where the wing was, slice toward you, separating the thigh from the body. You will have a large piece, about half the size of the breast, with one bone running through the center. Place the thigh skin-side-down on your cutting board. Using the tip of your knife, cut parallel to the bone, separating it from the meat. You should be able to gently tear the bone out with your fingers without losing any meat. Flip it over so that it is skin-side up and cut against the grain (perpendicular to where the bone was) into ¼ to ½ inch slices.

You now have a fairly clean carcass. The remaining meat can be removed by hand, picking the good stuff out from in between the bones and hard to reach places. This makes great leftovers! To get all the goodness out of your turkey, use the carcass to make some delicious turkey stock.

Turkey carving doesn’t sound so bad, does it?

It seems we all have a turkey carving horror story – follow these steps and this year it won’t be about you!

Don’t forget to subscribe to the blog to receive updates of new posts. Next week Chef J will be sharing some ideas for all that leftover turkey!

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