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You've finished cooking your turkey (good work with that perfectly golden skin!) and now you're ready to carve it—but you're not sure how to start. To make sure you don't slice off more than you can chew, heed this advice:
The Pros Propose
- Steven Raichlen instructs: "Never carve or serve a turkey hot out of the oven. Let it rest, loosely tented with aluminum foil, for at least 20 minutes. (Lay a sheet of foil over the bird—don’t wrap it.) This 'relaxes' the meat and restores the juices."
- Kristen Miglore gives us a pep talk: "Don't stress! You just have to dive in! Really get in there and feel around for joints and bones and pull things apart to see better." She also assures us that carving can be an anti-social activity. Carve alone in the kitchen and appear in front of your guests with a beautifully presented platter—they don't need to see how it got there.
- Need a visual? Watch Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs carve a chicken—you'll be ready to tackle any-sized bird.
Have a Carving Game Plan
- Sfmiller separates the whole bird into manageable pieces with a flexible boning knife. If you hit bone, simply reposition; the wings and legs should come off first. The ball joint should come free without using your knife; if it doesn't, cut around the ball joint, not through, and pull until it comes free.
- When addressing the breast, meganvt01 removes it entirely and slices across in thick (1/2- to 3/4-inch) slices—she finds it dries out less.
- Pierino points out that cutting across the grain in this manner also ensures a little bit of crispy skin with each slice.
Tell us: What are your best carving tips?
Have you missed any of our Thanksgiving roundup of Burning Questions? Catch up now:
- The Definitive Pounds-Per-Person Guide to Turkey and Potatoes
- Everything You Need to Know About Brining
- How to Accommodate Guests with Special Diets and Stay Sane
- Solutions for Stuffing Slip-Ups
- The Essential Numbers: A Guide to Times and Temps for Cooking Your Bird
- How to Get Perfect Skin (On Your Turkey, That Is)
- Top Turkey Tips
Photos by James Ransom