How to Carve a Turkey: An Illustrated Guide

Do your Thanksgiving bird justice with a few skilled knife techniques.

We've all heard horror stories of under- and over-cooking the holiday turkey. If you make it to the finish line with a perfectly prepared bird, don't blow it with amateur carving techniques. Here's a step-by-step guide for Thanksgiving day.

header1 1. To ensure that you earn praise for your juicy turkey, leave it to sit for 20 to 30 minutes after you remove it from the oven before you lift a knife. (That knife, by the way, should have a sharp edge to keep the crispy skin attached and a long blade so you can carve neatly.) Cutting into your turkey too early will cause the juices to run and the meat to dry out.

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2. Remove the string that ties the legs together with your carving knife.

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3. Begin by cutting the skin that connects the body and the leg. Grab the body in one hand and the leg/thigh in the other and pull until you expose the joint (you'll hear a pop). Use your carving knife, slice through the joint until there's no resistance. Repeat with the other leg/thigh.

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4. Stand the leg/thigh piece up on its end, while holding the drumstick. Cut between the thigh and drumstick, and if you meet resistance, move your knife until you don't anymore. Set the drumstick on your platter and the thigh aside to slice later. Watch your guests wrangle for the prized drumsticks.

header3 5. Using your fingers, carefully pull the wishbone out from the front end of the breast. Offer it to two lucky contestants.

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6. Grabbing the end of the bone, start scraping the meat from the bone in one or two pieces carefully. Once it's separated, slice it up and transfer it to your platter.

remove7. To detach the wing, you will have to slice through the ball joint. Do so by cutting the area between the body and the wing and pulling the wing away from the turkey (you'll hear a pop). Then, cut through the ligaments and tendons that surround the joint until the wing is separated. Repeat with the other wing and transfer both to your platter.

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8. To prevent the meat from drying up, rather than carving smaller pieces off the body, cut the entire breast off the body at once. Do so by cutting right next to the breastbone, using your hands to peel it away as you cut, making small slices as you go down the side of the breastbone. Repeat with the other breast. Once the meat is off of the bone, starting at the smallest point of the breast, begin to carve by slicing against the grain of the meat. Cut the meat into thick and thin slices to accommodate different appetites. If you're not going to use all of your meat on Thanksgiving, save a large portion before you slice it all and wrap it in plastic wrap so it stays juicy.

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knife When the bird is out of the oven, grab this knife from your carving block, and you'll be well on your way to beautifully sliced turkey. With a blade that sharp, long, and slightly flexible, it cuts roast turkey, leg of lamb, or beef Wellington cleanly while keep that crispy skin intact.Wusthof Classic Carving Knife, From $100, Chefs
   
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