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How to Carve a Turkey

How to Carve a Turkey

So you've brined and roasted, grilled, smoked, deep-fried or spatchcocked your turkey. Good for you. Now, it's time to carve it. To some, carving the turkey is the most intimidating part. But relax, people. Carving the Thanksgiving bird's no biggie. Well, not if you follow the pro tips from chef Bridget Charters at Hot Stove Society in these quick videos.

Let the turkey rest after it comes out of the oven. At least 20-30 minutes (depending on its size) with a piece of foil tucked over the top. This gives the proteins time to relax and allows the juices to redistribute throughout the bird, resulting in succulent slices of meat. "That means the juices don't spill out on the cutting board, they go back into the meat," chef Bridget said.

Keep the turkey in a draft-free area so it doesn't cool off too much while it rests. This rest will allow the meat to relax and the juices to redistribute throughout the turkey. If you carve it straight out of the oven, much of the juice will run out onto your cutting board, and your meat will be dry.

While the turkey is resting, pour the juices from the roasting pan into a glass measuring cup or a small saucepan. Let the juices stand about 10 minutes so the fat will float on top where it can be easily removed. Pour some water or poultry stock into the roasting pan, and return to the oven, or bring to a simmer on the stove. Scrape up the browned bits from the pan, and use this liquid along with the reserved juices to make a gravy.

Cajun Turkey

Let the turkey rest after it's done roasting | Photo by Meredith

Arrange the turkey, breast side up, on a cutting board. Steady the turkey with a carving fork. Using a sharp knife, slice through the meat between the breast and the leg.

Channel your inner Dr. McDreamy from Grey's Anatomy (RIP, but still) in tackling the legs and thighs, locating the joints attaching the leg bone to the thigh bone. Use your sharp knife to separate the two pieces, then cut alongside the bone to separate the thigh meat.
Next, using a large knife as an aid, press the thigh outward to find the hip joint. Slice down through the joint and remove the leg. Cut between the thigh bone and drumstick bone to divide the leg into one thigh piece and one drumstick.

To carve the drumstick, steady it with a carving fork and cut a thick slice of meat from one side, along the bone. Next, turn the drumstick over so that the cut side faces down. Cut off another thick slice of meat. Repeat, turning the drumstick onto a flat side and cutting off meat, carving a total of four thick slices.

To slice the thigh, place it flat side down on a cutting board. Steady the thigh with a carving fork. With a knife, cut parallel to the bone and slice off the meat. Be sure to place all the cuts on the warmed serving platter as you work.

To remove the wings, slice diagonally down through the edge of the breast toward the wing. Using a knife as an aid, press the wing out to find the shoulder joint; cut through the joint, remove the wing, and place on the serving platter.

Slice the breast, going against the grain. Lift off each slice, holding it between the knife and fork (or tongs!), and layer them on the warm serving platter. Continue until you have carved all the meat on one side of the breast. Carve the other side of breast in the same fashion. Chef Bridget shows us exactly how to, right here:

Arrange everything on a platter using wings as anchor and serve. If it doesn't exactly look like food porn, don't stress. It will soon be smothered in gravy, and eventually destined for Thanksgiving leftover hand pies.

Be sure to check out our Thanksgiving Turkey recipes.

About Leslie Kelly

Always hungry to learn, never had my fill of oysters, Memphis dry rub ribs, wild salmon, chocolate chip cookies or a well-rolled lumpia. Washington state wine lover, bourbon fan. Totally obsessed with brunch!