How to carve a Thanksgiving turkey like a pro
This tutorial will transform your turkey carving.
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If you’ve ordered your turkey and sides, made up your mind about desserts, and learned how to roast your turkey, carving is the last step to pull off a successful Thanksgiving meal. With the right tools and some general knowledge of poultry, turkey carving isn’t out of reach for most people. Here’s how to carve a turkey.
How to carve a turkey like a pro
What You Need:
Step 1: Pull the legs
After letting the turkey rest for at least half an hour, place the turkey on a cutting board with the cavity facing you. Carefully cut through the skin where the thigh meets the body. Then, you should be able to see the natural seam separating the dark and white meats. Let the seam guide your knife when cutting the leg until the thigh pops off and you can easily remove the legs. It shouldn’t take too much effort as you’re only cutting through the connective tissues. Use your carving fork as needed to stabilize your bird.
Step 2: Remove the wishbone
With the turkey breasts facing up, try to locate the wishbone. Gently cut an upside-down V shape along the wishbone and remove any connective tissue still connected to the bone, this should allow you to pull it out. This step will help you take out the breast meat more easily.
Step 3: Cut the breasts
Locate the breastbone, which is also called “keel bone” as its shape resembles the keel of a boat (it may help if you picture this while carving the bird). You can start by cutting straight down and then cutting to the side along the breastbone, while trying not to destroy the integrity of the skin. Use your non-dominant hand to stabilize the bird while you’re cutting. The breast should fall off once you reach the wing section of the turkey.
Step 4: Slice the breast meat
On a flat surface, slice the turkey breast with skin side up, keeping the skin as intact as possible. You’ll want to slice the meat against the grain on a bias. Repeat this step with the other breast. Set aside.
Step 5: Remove the wings
Using your carving knife, gently slice the wings off the body at the joint. Alternatively, you should be able to twist the wings at the joint to detach them from the body. Set aside.
Step 6: Debone the thighs and drumsticks
Twist the joint between the thigh and lower leg to break the two sections apart. Place the thigh on the cutting board with skin side down. Using the tip of your knife, gently cut the meat along the thigh bone while simultaneously rolling the bone. Repeat with the legs. (I prefer doing this with a pair of poultry shears because they offer more precision.) Slice the deboned thigh and leg meats against the grain on a bias.
Step 7: Plating
Transfer the sliced turkey meat to a platter of your choice, making sure to separate light and dark meat. Garnish with herbs, apples, or cranberries for a festive presentation.
After you’re done carving the turkey, you can save the wings and carcass to make a delicious turkey stock for later use.
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