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 these easy tips.
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.
Carving the Turkey
To really take the pressure off carving a turkey, do it in the privacy of your kitchen to reduce "helpful" comments from onlookers. Warm up a large serving platter to hold the carved turkey meat. Arrange the turkey, breast side up, on a cutting board. Steady the turkey with a carving fork.
Remove the legs. Working on one side of the turkey at a time, locate the joint attaching the leg to the breast. Using a large, sharp knife as an aid, press the thigh outward to find the hip joint. Slice down through the joint and remove the leg. Repeat with the other leg.
Remove the breast meat. Find the breast bone that runs right down the center of the bird and make a long slice right along one side of the bone. Angle your knife and keep slicing right along the rib cage to free the breast meat. Repeat on the other side.
Remove the wings. Find the joint where the wing attaches to the breast and cut through it to detach the wing. Repeat on the other side.
Once the meat is removed from the turkey, you can start slicing it into smaller, easy-to-serve pieces.
Slice the turkey breasts going against the grain into thick or thin slices (your choice).
Separate the drumstick from the thigh by finding the joint and cutting through it. At this point, you can slice the meat from the drumsticks and the thighs if you wish.
Arrange the carved meat on the warmed platter as you go so you don't crowd your cutting board.
If it doesn't exactly look Instagram-perfect, 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.