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Updated: Oct 12, 2022

We have already discussed how to buy, store and prepare a turkey at home. However, there is one last step to master before you can officially begin boasting about your sweet turkey skills. The final step to mastering your home turkey cooking skills is learning how to carve a turkey. Whether you’ve been carving turkey for family dinners for years or are facing this challenge for the very first time, here are some professional tips on carving a turkey that will definitely raise your carving skills up a notch.

A sharp knife

When carving a turkey, the goal is to be able to slice through the skin without shredding it. Some folks suggest using a carving knife, a boning knife, and a chef's knife. These specialty blades are thinner, longer, and more flexible and will definitely aid you in your task if you are still a beginner. On the other hand, if the turkey has been cooked properly the joints will come apart pretty easily, which means that just your chef's knife should be more than adequate for the job.

Let it rest

When carving a turkey you are not dealing with raw meat, but instead with a fully cooked bird. Once the turkey has been cooked and removed from the oven, you want to let it rest for about 20 to 30 minutes before you begin carving it. If you start cutting the turkey too early the juices from the bird will run all over the place and your turkey will dry out. Letting the turkey rest and cool will also reduce the chances of you scalding yourself with delicious but hot turkey juices.

Remove the legs

The first step to carving a turkey is to remove the legs from the body. Take a sharp knife and carefully cut the piece of skin in between the body and the leg while gently pulling the leg away from the carcass. As you pull, you'll see the natural seam between the leg and the body open up. That seam will guide your knife right around the thigh bone until it pops out. Note that you're not cutting through the joint, you're just popping out the leg and are using your knife to cut through the skin and connective tissue. Repeat this process with the other leg and set the legs aside.

Carve the turkey breast

The turkey breast is a massive piece of meat that extends all the way down from the center of the bird to the wing joint. Start by finding the wishbone at the front end of the breast. Use your fingers to pull it out. Removing the wishbone at the start makes it easier to carve off the breast meat. Locate the breastbone running down the middle of the carcass. This bone is also known as the "keel bone", because it's shaped like the keel of a boat and serves a crucial purpose. Slice through the skin to one side of the keel bone and continue slicing downward, cutting close to the breastbone while pulling the entire breast away with your other hand. Keep cutting and pulling away the meat until you've removed the whole breast with the skin still intact. Repeat with the other side.

Debone the thighs

There’s one bone in the thigh meat and your goal is to separate the meat on the thigh from this bone. Grab one end of the thigh bone, and begin carefully scraping the meat away from the bone with your knife. Using the tip of your knife, cut away the meat along one side of the thigh bone, then roll the bone the other way and cut along the other side. Follow the same process until all the meat has come off the bones.

Carve the wings

The wings are saved for last because they are essential in helping to stabilize the carcass on the cutting board. At this stage you can probably simply pull them off, however, if you encounter any resistance be sure to use your knife to cut through any skin or meat. You can remove the wingtips and save it for making stock. Repeat with the other wing.

The final step is to slice the turkey meat into thin or thick slices based on your preferences. Now that you have a perfectly carved and sliced turkey on your plate, remember to garnish it with fruit, citrus or chiles and other accompaniments that support and enhance the flavor of your bird. You can also buy smoked meat online to go along with your turkey or choose the entire assortment of accompaniments for a roast from the Kaavo Meat website to make a truly unforgettable meal. Enjoy your deliciously cooked and perfectly carved turkey, and don’t hesitate to ask for seconds!

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