Real men know their way about a roasted bird. Here’s how to carve a turkey like a boss.
Carve a Turkey Like a Pro in 6 Steps
Before Anything Else…
Before we go to the cutting, it’s important to know these few turkey-carving must-dos:
- Give the turkey at least 30 minutes of rest time before carving.
- Say no to turkey hacking! Use your sharpest knife.
- Remove the breast in one piece.
- Always use a platter with enough surface to hold all the meat. Warm it before carving.
- Slice meat across the grain to maintain tenderness.
- Don’t ditch leftovers. The carcass makes good stock or soup.
Now To The Cutting
At first thought, a carving knife is the most logical weapon of choice for this task, as its name suggests. Here’s a pro-tip: a chef’s knife can actually work better because carving requires maneuvering—something that’s a little bit hard to do with a carving knife’s longer blade. Plus, chances are you don’t have a carving knife anyway. Here’s what your turkey-carving arsenal should contain:
What You’ll Need:
- A sharp, sturdy chef’s knife
- A carving board with ample cutting surface (or a wooden block)
- A carving fork for holding the turkey down firmly
Step 1: You’ll Want to Start with the Leg Quarters
Remove the turkey twine. Slice through the skin between the breast and legs to get to the hip joint. With the leg quarters out of the way, carving the breast will be a breeze.
Step 2: Take the Leg Quarters Out
Pull the leg quarters out of the carcass. Split the joint by gently pressing the leg outwards and pushing up on the joint. Cut through the joint carefully. You’ll run into the bone after the initial cut. Cut through the space made when you popped the joint out of the socket rather than hacking through it.
Step 3: Cut the Drumsticks off from the Thigh
Cut through the thigh-drumstick joint. Do the same with the other side. Carve the meat off the thighs and drumsticks, but leave some skin attached to each cut. Leg quarters are quite large. Once sliced, everyone can have a taste of both the white and dark meats of the bird.
Step 4: Wing It
Pop the connective joint between the wing and breast. Cut through the joint carefully to completely remove the wings. Slice the wings in half for easier eating. By separating the wings, you’ll get better access to the whole breast. Add the wings to the serving platter.
Step 5: Its Breast Town
Here’s how to carve a turkey breast. Cut down along one side using the curve of the breastbone as a guide. Pull the meat away from the bone as you cut. Repeat on the other side. Avoid leaving the last few pieces from looking ragged by carving the meat off in one piece first. It’s tidier this way.
Step 6: Slice the Breast Meat
Cut the meat crosswise into thin slices. This makes attractive portions for serving—and it’s easier to make turkey sandwiches from the leftovers later on!
We’ve also collated four badass carving methods from experienced chefs below:
1. The What Not To Do Method
You’re already well-familiar with the must-dos and the cutting procedure, but it’ll also help to know what not to do when carving a turkey. This guide from Chow’s You’re Doing It All Wrong video series is a revelation. Watch Chef Mark Dommen of One Market Restaurant cut and plate a bird the right way in this video.
2. The Daniel Humm Method
Nobody cuts a bird like Michelin-starred chef Daniel Humm. Watch one of the world’s best chefs tackle a roasted bird in this video.
3. The Top Chef Method
Do you prefer using a carving fork? You’ll want to watch this video of Hosea Rosenberg from Top Chef carving a turkey.
4. The Master Butcher Method
Here’s an interesting one! New York’s master butcher, Ray Venezia, stays away from a carving fork. His weapon of choice: just two knives—one for boning, one for slicing. Watch him do his magic in this video.
Learn how to keep your turkey moist in this video from Gordon Ramsay:
Turkey Day is fast approaching. And as the tradition goes, the task of carving the bird is often assigned to the family patriarch. Show ’em who’s the man by cutting and plating the mighty bird masterfully with your newfound boss-level carving skills.
Do you know the best way to carve a turkey? Let us know in the comments section below!