The Right Way To Carve A Turkey

After hours of basting and checking on that roasting Thanksgiving turkey in the oven, the moment is finally here — it's time to carve up that bird. If you're a veteran of turkey carving, then you're probably ready with knife and fork in hand. What if you're new to turkey carving though, or you completely butchered that perfectly deep-fried turkey last year? The last thing you want is the in-laws driving home after their Thanksgiving meal gossiping about how the breast meat was shredded and the drumsticks were hacked to pieces. 

Here's how to avoid any turkey carving embarrassment and come out looking like a Thanksgiving hero. 

Prep your turkey carving station

If it seems like turkeys are bigger than they used to be, that's because they are. According to The Wall Street Journal, the average turkey today weighs in at a whopping 30 pounds — almost double the size of a turkey in 1960. Such a large bird requires some space to handle, which is why a properly prepped carving area is key. 

While it might look like pure Americana in the paintings of Norman Rockwell, carving that big turkey at the dining room table with the entire family around could be tricky. Martha Stewart recommends allowing your turkey to cool for 20 minutes after cooking, and carving it somewhere other than the dinner table. Before you get started, make sure you have a warm serving dish, kitchen scissors, sharp chef's knife, and a carving fork ready to go. 

Carving your turkey the correct way

First, cut through the trussing string that's holding the legs together and discard it. Easy enough, right? Next, you'll need to tackle the rest of the bird. The Art of Manliness recommends that you position the turkey so that it's facing breast side up and you're standing with its legs pointing away from you. You're going to first want to slice off the turkey's thighs and drumsticks. Place your chef's knife against the turkey's thigh and slice downward. Pull the leg away from the body and cut through the joint that's connecting it. You may need to apply some pressure and twist a little. Once it's off, repeat for the other drumstick. 

If your turkey is full of stuffing, you'll want to make an oval incision at the neck cavity and then scoop out the stuffing from the body. Remember that drumstick and thigh you just sliced off? Time to separate the two by cutting through the connecting joint. You'll want to do this for both pieces so that there's plenty of drumstick and thigh meat to go around. 

As for the wings and breast meat, pull back the wings the same as you did the drumsticks and slice them off at the joint. Now when it comes to the turkey breast, you can go one of two ways. Martha Stewart recommends cutting horizontally through the breast, starting at the bottom curve of the bird to slice off tender medallions of meat. You could also remove slices of meat by cutting vertically and downward along the breastbone. Choose the method that feels the most comfortable for you.

All that's left to do now is load up that plate and eat!