Vegetarians, look away now. This article is all about carving poultry and how to cut it in a way that doesn’t only look good as you present it to your guests, it also preserves most of the juices and doesn’t tear the meat, resulting in moist, even tastier slices.
A cooked turkey, a large cutting board, a serving tray, a meat fork and, of course, the right, properly sharpened knife.
Which knife to use
We recommend using a long, sharp carving knife. Alternatively, a very well sharpened and slightly longer chef knife will do, although it is not ideally suited for the job. Using a professionally sharpened knife is not only much more fun, it also makes for healthier and tastier food.
Let it rest!
Let the turkey rest to let it cool slightly and let the juices redistribute throughout the meat. Cutting right into the meat when it is piping hot will result in juices flowing out and being lost. Depending on the size of the bird, rest time will be at least 30 and up to 90 minutes. Enough time for you to make the gravy or mash those potatoes.
Get the wings out of the way
Once your turkey has rested long enough, lightly pull the wing away from the body and cut downwards through the skin and joint. Using your hands, flake and pull the meat out onto your serving platter.
Pull one leg slightly away from the bird and cut right through the skin and the joint that connects it to the body, until the leg comes off. Repeat on the other side. Cut through the leg joint to separate the thigh from the drumstick. Place the drumsticks on your serving platter.
Try to cut as much meat as possible off the thigh bone, keeping it in one piece. Place the meat from the thighs on your cutting board with the skin up, then cut against the grain to create ¼ inch thick slices.
Slicing the turkey breast
- The old school way: use your meat fork to secure the meat as much as needed. Slice about ¼ of an inch thick along the side of the breast, making long, smooth strokes with your knife. Use the fork to secure the slice halfway through towards the bottom to avoid tearing off the meat. Use the tip of your knife and your fork to move the sliced meat across to your serving platter.
- New school: remove the entire breasts before slicing it. To do so, cut lengthways as closely to the breastbone as possible. Cut all the way down until you hit the bottom of the carcass and remove one side of the breast. Repeat on the other side. Place both sides of the breast skin side up on your cutting board. Slice against the grain ¼ of an inch thick at a slight angle.
Arrange all the meat on a serving platter, separating the white (breast and wings) from the dark meat (legs and drumsticks). Enjoy!