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How2 Carve a Turkey

"Only one turkey per table, please..."

A lot of people in this world are scared to death that someday, somewhere, someone is going to ask them to carve the turkey. The stigma of being unskilled with a knife is not so easily borne. But a nicely carved turkey gives you larger slices, which can be forked onto a plate without dropping it all over your Aunt Virginia's holiday outfit. Less meat is wasted if the bird is cut properly, and well-cut slices can be neatly arranged on a serving platter. Take the time to learn this skill and you'll be richly rewarded for your efforts.

Before you begin

Sharp knives are much safer than dull ones! They cut much more easily as well.

Set up your carving board and serving platter on a solid and spacious surface. You're going to need some elbow room and you don't want to be sliding around either. Let the bird "rest" for at least 15 minutes after being removed from the oven before starting to slice it. If you have a large serving platter handy, you can easily transfer the meat to it as you slice it. Last, but certainly not least, wash and dry your hands well before starting. And put on your apron. This can be a little messy.

Step 1Tackle the legs and wings

Place the turkey securely on the large carving board. To begin, you'll be carving only one side of the bird.

Use the large fork for balance. Depending on how steady you feel, penetrate, pierce lightly, or rest the fork on the breast. Slice down the cravice where a leg connects with the body, until you hit bone.

Pull the leg away from the body with one hand. With the other, force the edge of the knife into the joint of the leg and body. If you cut firmly, the joint will sometimes separate cleanly. If it doesn't separate, get it off by cutting through the joint, if necessary.


Holding the leg up by the small end, rest the large end on the smaller carving board. First carve slices off of the thigh, and then the drumstick parts of the leg. Cut downwards and try to get medium-thin slices, as large as practical. Work your way around the leg.

Use the fork to pull a wing aside. Insert the point of the knife into the joint and separate the wing from the body. Cut through the joint if neccesary and put the wing aside.

Step 2Carve the breast

Seat the bird firmly on the large carving board. Relax. Take your time with this--don't try to cut too much at once. Work from the first slice, carving down to the bone in a methodical fashion. If that serving platter is handy, you can transfer the meat with the knife blade as you slice it.

Using the large fork for balance, first cut a sliver dollar-sized slice from the most rounded area of the breast (about halfway down).

Continue to slice downwards in orderto get medium-thin slices that gradually become larger. Picture the ribcage, and angle your slicing so that the blade of the knife is parallel it, rather than digging in.

Work your way closer to the bone. As you expose the bones, the slices will take on some odd shapes, but keep the thickness as uniform as possible. At some point you'll start to use your fingers to get the odd bits and pieces onto the plate, but leave a little on if you like turkey soup.

Step 3Carve the other side

The second half of the bird will be a little unbalanced, since all that weight is now on the platter. On the other hand, you've got the hang of it now so it will probably go easier. Repeat the steps above, and you'll wind up with a turkey frame that has just enough on it for soup!


The Steps

Before you begin
Step 1:
Tackle the legs and wings
Step 2:
Carve the breast
Step 3:
Carve the other side


Generally, around fifteen minutes to carve half of the bird

What you'll need

A cooked turkey, with the stuffing removed

A sharp carving knife for best results. Any large, sharp knife in a pinch--preferably with a narrow blade--will do.

A large fork, at least eight inches long

A smaller carving board, or inexpensive plate in a pinch

A large serving platter

An apron


Is a holiday coming up? Practice on a chicken.

Before serving your guests, ask in advance what type of meat they prefer.

For guests concerned about fat consumption, remove the skin and fat from their portion.

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