Many people find carving a turkey to be the most challenging part of serving a big holiday meal. Because most people don’t cook whole turkeys often, they do not get enough practice to expertly carve a turkey. Luckily, there are a few simple steps to carving a turkey that you can master even if you don’t get a lot of practice:
- Gather your supplies. It is best not to cut your turkey on the serving platter; instead, find a large cutting board. Use a very sharp straight-edged knife to make your job easier. For best results, choose a knife that is designed for carving meat, and comes with a carving fork to hold the meat. An electric carving knife would be even better, but it’s not necessary.
- Separate the thigh and drumstick. Begin by placing the turkey on the cutting board with the drumsticks facing you and the breast side on top. Your first cut should be to cut the band of skin holding the drumsticks to the body of the turkey. Then grasp the end of one of the drumsticks, and place your knife between the leg and body of the turkey. Cut through the skin until you reach the joint, and remove the entire leg. Repeat with the other drumstick and thigh. You can use the carving fork to hold the bird steady as you make each cut. Carve the meat on the thighs and drumsticks by slicing off thin pieces.
- Slice the wing. Now, pull the wing away from the body, exposing the joints. Simply cut through this joint to remove the wing. Repeat on the other wing.
- Cutting the breast meat. Next, hold your knife so it is parallel to the center bone of the turkey. Start two inches from the side, and slice the breast into pieces.
- Continue to slice. Continue to slice the breast meat, starting each cut a little higher than the last. The exact thickness of each slice depends on your personal preferences.
- Repeat with the other side. Once you reach the center bone of the turkey, repeat steps three and four with the other breast. However, you should only carve as much at one time as your guests can eat; return to carve the rest when your guests are ready for seconds. That way the meat will stay warm and will not dry out.
For best results, let the turkey sit for a few minutes before removing it from the oven and trying to carve it. Otherwise, all of the juices may run out when you start to slice, making your turkey not as moist as it could have been. Presentation is everything on the holiday table, so make sure you know how to carve the turkey just right before you try it.