Are you intimidated by that beautiful roasted Thanksgiving turkey? Really? Do you secretly wonder how to carve that gorgeous bird? Well you’re definitely not alone. Learning how to carve a turkey may feel a little daunting but really….it’s a great life skill and not all that complicated.
Today we* carved a turkey (mostly so I could take photos to show you how easy it is) that has been slow-cooking since yesterday. Because it cooks so slowly, the meat is super moist and practically falls off the bone. This makes the carving process kinda messy. If you use a more traditional oven-roasting method, your turkey will probably hold together a little better.
*special cameo appearances by Maggie & Mollie Kelley.
Start by assembling the tools you’ll need to carve the turkey. We use a big cutting board with runnels around the edge. This helps contain the juices. If you just have a flat cutting board, be sure to put a towel underneath to catch the drippings. We also use a big carving fork and several knives. We like to use a couple of different knives. I’m sure there are whole articles (maybe even whole books) written on the proper knives to use. We like a couple of newly-sharpened utility knives and a big carving knife. We do all the carving right next to a large stock pot. We have a serving platter ready to receive the sliced meat and usually at least one container for odds and ends that will be used for leftovers.
Start by moving the turkey from the roasting pan to the cutting board.
We always begin by cutting the legs loose from the body.
Then we cut the drumstick at the joint.
The drumsticks always go on our serving platter whole. Because the turkey is so well-cooked, we can slide the bones out of the thigh part of the leg. Then we slice the remaining meat across the grain.
Next, we remove the wings, separating them at the joint. The wings also go on our serving platter whole.
Meanwhile, every time we run into any gristle, fat, skin, or bones, those go directly into the stock pot.
There are two ways to carve the turkey breast.
First, sometimes we remove the entire breast from the carcass and cut it across the grain into thick slices. If the slices are at least 1/2 inch thick, they tend to stay more moist on the platter.
The second way to carve a turkey breast is to slice underneath the breast without removing it. Then slice thinly along the grain into flat thin slices.
If there are other large chunks of meat that are still clinging to the carcass, you can either throw those into the stock pot, tuck them into your leftover container, or you can put the larger pieces onto your serving platter.
Once you have as much meat pulled off the turkey carcass as you want, put all the remaining bones and bits into the stock pot. EVERYTHING you won’t be eating can go into that stock pot. I usually also pour all the turkey juice into a saucepan for gravy.
Then I swish a little warm water around the bottom of the pan and pour that into the stock pot. At this point, I also add the giblets and neck to the stock pot. Fill the stock pot so that all the bones are covered with water. Set on the stove on a low burner. I love getting the stock pot going before we even sit down for Thanksgiving dinner. It makes such a huge difference on clean-up after we eat.
So easy that anyone can do it. The more you do it, the easier it will become. There is a powerful incentive for learning to carve a Thanksgiving turkey, you know. If you’re in charge of carving the turkey, you’re the one who gets to test the turkey for perfection. Those little succulent bits that are just soaking in juices…yep, you get to test those too. Mmmmmmmm. Deeeeeeelish!
And our faithful supervisors? Well, turkey is NOT good for dogs so they had to settle for doing tricks with dog biscuits.
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