Introduction: The Only Way to Carve a Turkey
Carving a turkey isn't hard, once you know how. Master these 6 easy steps and become the hero of Thanksgiving!
You know that moment at the dinner table when everyone is sitting around the turkey, waiting with anticipation for it to be carved? Are you the one standing there with knife and fork in hand, beads of sweat beginning to form on your forehead and upper lip, as you realize you are the center of attention and have absolutely no idea how to begin? I mean, it looks so easy when other people do it, serving up perfectly sliced pieces, handing them out with grace. But now that you're at the head of the table, where do you start? How do you save face and serve the bird without making a mess of it all?
I'm here to help. This was my first turkey too, and it was easier than I thought! So just follow along, and we'll take this one side at a time.
Step 1: The Drumstick
First of all, I recommend a cutting board with a well around it to catch all of the juices that are going to run off from your bird. And there will be a lot of juices. Learn from my mistake.
Secondly, you don't need a special knife or fork for this. A butcher's knife is great, and a table fork will work just fine. But if you're in it for the glory, might as well go big and get the bone-carved handle set, right?
OK, let's get started.
Let's aim for the low hanging fruit first, and remove that drumstick. It's easily identifiable and you can pretty much just pull the sucker off with your hands. But let's attempt this with a scoach more grace (a Scooch more grace?).
Pull the drumstick towards you and away from the turkey, using your knife to slice away the connecting skin.
Slowly cut through the meat surrounding the joint until it is exposed.
Cut through the joint (or just pop it out using force) and remove the drumstick.
Whew, that was easy. Let's continue.
Step 2: The Wing
Using a similar technique, pull the wing away from the body of the turkey, using your knife to slice through the surrounding skin.
Cut through the meat to expose the joint.
Cut through the joint (or just pop it out using force) and remove the wing.
Step 3: The Secret Magic Cut
This is the trick that's going to make your white meat fall away from the bird in perfect, almost cinematic slices:
Pull the thigh away from the turkey and lay your knife against the breast, parallel to and just above the thigh.
Slice into the breast just above the ribs until you reach the breastbone. Now watch what happens when you slice the breast.
Step 4: The Breast
Slice vertical cuts down the breast, using a carving fork to hold the bird steady.
See how the pieces just fall off the bird in magically perfect slices? Use the knife and fork to transfer your elegant slices to a plate or serving tray, just like a Norman Rockwell painting.
Step 5: The Thigh
To remove the thigh, slice through all of the meat connecting the thigh and body until you expose the joint.
Again, use your knife or force to pop the joint and remove the meat.
You can slice the thigh into pieces, or serve them whole. I like to cut away the meat on each side of the bone.
Step 6: The Oyster
You may notice one round medallion of meat left over on the body. This is the oyster.
Using your knife, carefully separate this piece from the body of the turkey.
Do not serve this piece.
Why? Many claim this is the best part of any bird, sing its praises, and swear by its mystical powers. This, my friend, this piece is for you. You've earned it. Just pop it on your own plate if anyone's watching, or directly into your mouth if no one is.
Step 7: Repeat
Now you've got the hang of it! Even if that first side didn't go as smoothly as you'd hoped, you've got a whole other side to perfect your technique. You might consider carving the bird in the kitchen away from prying eyes until you've mastered your technique. But even if that's not an option, these simple steps will guide you towards a perfect carve.