5 Tips For Carving Your Turkey

Properly carving a turkey is an important skill for any budding cook.
Properly carving a turkey is an important skill for any budding cook.

If your family is like many others, preparing a turkey is an essential part of your holiday celebrations. After you have spent hours roasting or smoking your bird to perfection, it’s time to cut it up for serving. This task can prove intimidating, even if you are learning to cook in an online culinary arts program. Follow the tips below so you can serve your family a beautifully carved turkey:

1. Allow the turkey to rest
After a long day spent readying a feast, you are probably eager to dig right into that turkey. However, you should control that urge and let the bird rest 20-40 minutes, depending on its size. The turkey will continue to cook as it waits on the counter. The result will be juicier, tastier meat when you do carve.

2. Choose the right knife for the job
If you want to make sure you cut your turkey cleanly and with precision, you can’t just use any knife in the drawer. You need a carving or chef’s knife with a long blade that will allow you to remove large pieces of meat. Check your knife’s sharpness beforehand. It should be sufficiently honed to slice through the meat while leaving skin attached.

A carving knife is thinner than a chef’s knife, so it will be preferable if you want to be more precise in your cutting. Knife maker Corey Milligan told The Splendid Table that it is vital to choose a carver made with quality steel that will keep its edge. A flexible boning knife will also be quite useful, especially when working with the breast meat.

3. Pick your first cut
An essential part of splitting up the bird is deciding where to make your first cut. Bon Appetit recommended beginning with the breast meat. However, removing the legs is the most common starting point. Cut into the skin joining the breast and drumstick until you come to the joint. Push down on the leg to separate it as you cut through. Then cut the thigh and drumstick apart at the joint. Repeat the same steps for the other leg.

4. Remove the wishbone
For an easier time carving the breast, you should first remove the wishbone by hand. Peel back some skin at the turkey’s neck-end and feel around with your fingers to locate the wishbone. Be careful as you pull it out so you leave the bone and the meat around it intact. Making a wish while pulling the bone apart is optional.

5. Slice the breasts with care
Locate the breastbone and make your cut from the neck down to the tail end. Cut parallel with the bone and as close to it as possible. If you have a boning knife, it will work well for this part of the process. Pull the breast meat away with your hand or by setting the knife at an angle and slicing along the rib cage. Cut off the wing tips, and then make a series of horizontal cuts to slice up the breast meat. Remember to cut against the grain of the meat to avoid coming away with stringy pieces.

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