How To Carve a Turkey


The turkey is a largely flightless bird indigenous to North America. Today, while it has supplanted the goose as the traditionally consumed festive bird during winter holidays in the United States, the world has recognised its potential applications. Turkey is an extremely lean and flavourful meat, ideal for the summertime table. At the market or butchers, you’ll find ground turkey products attractively staged as low-fat alternatives to meats, as well as whole birds for sale. If you’d like to make use of this delicious poultry option for your next summer dinner party, but are a little daunted by the prospect of carving the unusually large roasted fowl, never fear. Below, we’ll provide a step-by-step guide for beautifully carved, succulent turkey.

Before You Roast

One trick that will make carving a turkey much easier after roasting is the removal of the wishbone prior to cooking. This can be done when you’re seasoning your bird for the oven, while it’s still raw. Pull back the skin flap at the neck and locate the y-shaped wishbone. This runs along the top between the breasts of the bird. With a sharp knife, make an incision along one of the arms of the Y. Replicate this cut along the opposite side of the same arm. Repeat these two cuts on the other arm of the Y. Last, make a tiny horizontal incision where the two arms meet. Then, grab the bone with your fingers and pull it forward—it should come free easily. If it’s stubborn, use the tip of your sharp knife to cut away any restricting tissue.

At this point, you can stuff herbs, garlic cloves or tiny bits of butter under the skin to give your bird added flavour.

In Anticipation of Carving

After you’ve removed your golden brown bird from the oven, allow it to rest in the roasting pan for no less than thirty minutes. Next, being sure to protect your hands with tea towels or paper towels, transfer the turkey to a carving board large enough to give you some manoeuvrability while cutting. Then, using a pair of clean kitchen sheers, snip and remove any string that you’ve used to bind the legs of the bird during roasting.

Nice Legs: Carving Leg and Thigh Meat

Insert your knife blade between the body of the turkey and the drumstick, gently slicing downward through the skin. Once this is done, the leg should come away from the body relatively easily. Slice through the skin on the underside, and the entire leg and thigh can be gently freed. Repeat with the other leg.

Articulate the joint between the drumstick and thigh, locating it and slicing through it. Next, flip the thigh section over and cut along both sides of the thighbone to remove the meat. Cut this into ½ inch pieces and arrange on your warm platter around the drumsticks.

Not Just Winging It

Articulate the wings and cut through the skin and joints with a sharp knife. Then, locate the middle joint in the wing and separate the flats from the drummets. Repeat on the other wing, and arrange all the pieces on your platter.

Making a Clean Breast of It

With a sharp knife, cut along one side of the breastbone through the top of the bird. As you cut more deeply, keep the point of the knife as close to the bone as possible to maximise the amount of meat your remove. While the breast meat will begin to separate from the bone as you cut, gently help it along with the side of your knife, using a slight lateral pressure. You’re just encouraging it, really. After it has completely separated, cut through the bottom edge with your knife to finish the job. Repeat with the other breast.

Slice the breast meat on the bias for a lovely presentation and arrange it on your platter. Now, all you’re left with is your main dish and a turkey carcass. Save the bones for stock. When boiled together with herbs, a cut onion and a few celery tops, it makes an excellent soup base for a light summer meal at a later date.

Presentation Thoughts

Your warm platter will grace any table with its beautiful bounty of sliced turkey. Use the large drumsticks and wing portions as a centrepiece on your platter, fanning the sliced meats around the edges in the fashion of a border. Parsley or cut red radishes make an easy and beautiful accent of colour in the midst of pale turkey meat and golden brown skin.

Turkey is a wonderful, lean summer meat. It pairs well with the abundance of fruits and vegetables available during this season. Even your roast turkey can be served as cold slices, since turkey is also an accommodating food, perfect for sandwiches on a picnic or alongside elegant cold salads at a formal dinner party.

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