During the winter season, it is traditional for families to sit down to a turkey dinner, especially for Christmas and Thanksgiving.
And while turkey is an incredible meat that can be used in countless recipes, a simple toast always proves the most popular.
TIP: Here’s how to cook a turkey per pound to roast the perfect bird.
However, this does not mean that roasting a whole turkey does not come with its setbacks, as after you have seasoned and cooked the turkey, you will need to carve the bird for the whole family, something that is easier said than done.
These days, many people find it hard to carve their turkeys in a way that showcases the best meat available on the bird.
So if you want to know how to carve a turkey like a pro, then you have come to the right place.
In the following article, we are going to teach you how to carve a turkey using a simple yet effective method, so that you can produce a delicious meal for your family.
We have also included some amazing recipes for a spectacular festive dinner.
So if you want to use your roast turkey to its full potential, this article has everything you need to get started…
How To Carve A Turkey (Step – By – Step)
When you have finished roasting a succulent and perfectly golden turkey, you need to do the meat justice by presenting it in a beautiful manner.
This can be done by carving your turkey using the correct method so that it will look like a masterpiece on your dinner plate.
Carving the turkey can also help to ensure proper meat to skin ratio, which promises to keep everyone happy.
So without further ado, let’s take a look at how you can carve your turkey in a quick and professional way:
What You Will Need
- Whole turkey
- Sharp kitchen knife
- Cutting board
- Serving platter
Step One: Let The Turkey Rest
Once you have pulled the turkey from the oven, you should never be overzealous and start carving the bird straight away.
In fact, it is recommended that you allow the turkey to rest for around 20 – 30 minutes, as this will allow the natural juices to redistribute into the meat.
Not only does this help to reduce the amount of moisture on your cutting board, but it will also keep the meat tender and bursting with flavor.
Step Two: Slice The Legs & Thighs
To begin carving your turkey, you must first remove the legs and thighs, as this will leave the main carcass unobstructed and exposed.
This can be done by pulling back the leg and laying it flat outward before pushing on the joint from underneath.
During this process, you will hear a slight popping noise as the joint becomes disconnected from the rest of the bird.
Once you have heard this noise, you can take a sharp kitchen knife and use it to cut around the joint and remove the leg and thigh completely.
This procedure can then be repeated on the other side until all of the limbs have been removed and set aside.
Step Three: Remove The Breasts
Using your kitchen knife, slice down on either side of the breast bone using long and deep strokes.
During this process, the blade of your knife will hit the bottom of the bird, which is when you will be able to pull the breasts outward.
Continue to slice down and out until the breast meat has been successfully removed.
If you are finding this step difficult, it is possible to slice your knife horizontally through the bottom of the breast from the outside, which should help to remove it.
When you have finished, you can repeat this process on the other side until both breasts have been removed and set aside.
Step Four: Remove The Wings
Now that you have removed the legs, thighs and breasts – it’s time to take a look at those delicious wings.
To remove your turkey’s wings, you will need to pull the limb away from the body and use your kitchen knife to slice through the joint.
Once you have removed the wings, you can cut away the wingtips, as they do not contain much meat and can be used for making homemade stock. When the wings have been removed from both sides, make sure to set them aside.
Step Five: Separate The Drumstick
When all the meat has been removed from the turkey, take the thighs and flip them over so that they are skin side down.
By doing this, you should be able to see the natural separation between the thigh and the drumstick, which will help you when slicing the limb in half.
Using your kitchen knife, slice through the meat and gently pull back on the drumstick to expose the joint.
Once you have done this, you can slice through the joint to produce two pieces: the drumstick and the thigh.
Step Six: Remove The Thigh Bone
After you have separated the drumsticks from the thighs, take your knife and cut around the thigh bone before removing it from the limb.
During this procedure, it is important to preserve as much meat as possible, otherwise, you could find yourself with very little that is edible.
Step Seven: Slice Up The Meat
Before you can serve your carved turkey, you will need to slice up the meat into smaller pieces.
When doing this, it is important to remember two basic rules. Firstly, you must always slice against the grain when it comes to tender pieces of meat. And second, always use a sharp kitchen knife to keep the skin attached to the meat.
Final Step: Serve Up The Turkey
Once all the meat has been sliced up, you can arrange it on a large platter before serving it at the table.
Of course, there is no right or wrong way to do this, as the final result will vary depending on the size of the bird and the garnishes you wish to use.
Just make sure that once the turkey is ready that it is served right away, otherwise, the meat could go cold and become inedible.
Garlic Herb Butter Roast Turkey (Recipe)
Now that you can carve a turkey like a pro, let’s take a look at how you can make your own delicious bird for your next festive meal.
Ingredients: Roast Turkey
- 12 pound whole turkey (skin on)
- Halved garlic heads (x3)
- Lemon slices (x3)
- Thyme sprigs (x6)
- Rosemary sprigs (x6)
- Olive oil ( ½ cup)
Ingredients: Garlic Herb Butter
- Unsalted butter (4 ounces)
- Chopped thyme leaves (1 teaspoon)
- Minced garlic (4 teaspoons)
- Cracked pepper
- Preheat the oven to 220 degrees C (for standard ovens) or 200 degrees C (for fan ovens).
- Take the garlic herb butter ingredients and combine them in a bowl by mixing well (make sure to save half of the herb butter for later).
- Line a large roasting pan with foil or parchment paper and arrange the 4 halves of garlic on the bottom of the pan with the thyme, rosemary, half the olive oil and 1 lemon slice.
- Pat the turkey dry with paper towels before stuffing it with the remaining garlic heads, lemon slices and herbs, finish it off with a drizzle of olive oil.
- Melt the butter and rub it over the turkey and beneath the skin before seasoning generously with salt and pepper. Then place the turkey on top of the garlic herbs breast side down before adding another drizzle of olive oil.
- Roast the turkey uncovered for 30 – 45 minutes depending on the size and weight of the bird.
- Turn the turkey over (breast-side up) with a pair of tongs and baste the pan juices for some extra flavor.
- Pour the reserved garlic herb butter over the top of the turkey with a spoon before pouring any remaining juices over the meat.
- Reduce the heat to 165 degrees C (for standard ovens) or 150 degrees C ( for fan ovens).
- Slather the turkey with a generous amount of butter and roast for a further 30 minutes. Baste the turkey again and continue roasting the bird for another 30 minutes depending on the size.
- To crisp the skin, you can broil or grill the turkey for the last 5 – 10 minutes while making sure it doesn’t burn. Once the skin has turned golden brown, remove the turkey from the oven.
- Cover the turkey with foil and allow the meat to rest for 20 – 30 minutes before carving the meat using the above method.
- When the turkey has been carved, place it on a large serving platter and serve with rosemary sprigs and fresh cranberries.
While carving a turkey may sound like a long and complicated process, it can be easily done with the right tools and method.
Just make sure to treat the bird with tender love and care, otherwise, you could risk removing some of the best meat on the carcass.