Turkey carving tips to save your giblets

Oct 11, 2013 | News

By Justin Vasko

Everybody’s heard about the bird, but do your carving skills cut it?

Shonah Chalmers thinks her skills are up to stuff, and as a chef and professor in Humber’s culinary program, they’d better be.

Chalmers walked Humber News through the ins and outs of carving a turkey the proper way, with a few nods to knife handling, too.

Whether you’re a seasoned pro or have Butterball’s Talk Turkey line on speed dial, Humber News has turkey tips that are sure to make your meal gobble worthy.

About a bird

1 If you’re Hagar the Horrible or simply someone with a big appetite, the drumstick’s combination of dark meat and a massive club of a bone is likely the turkey part for you. Thankfully, liberating the bird of its appendage could not be easier.
2 Simply pull the leg out from the rest of the bird and locate the joint. Cut through this point, and the leg should come right off. You’ve got a leg up on this carve job!
3 Repeat the step for the other drumstick. You’re done with the legs, and really, you probably didn’t need Humber News giving you these leggy lessons.
4 For those looking to have a lighter meal, only breast meat will do. The best practice here is to remove the whole turkey breast, which makes for easier carving later. Start first by cutting along the divide between the two turkey breasts.
5 Next, cut along the base of the breast. It’s not the anatomically-correct term, but this is Thanksgiving, and people are hungry.
6 If your two cuts meet, you should be able to remove the full breast from the bird.  Not only will it look like you’ve made a geometry lesson out of dinner, but your carving at maximum efficiency. Soldier onward!
7 Now you can slice the breast meat to your, or your guests’, liking. It will look professional, delicious and, if you’ve invited your friends and colleagues for dinner, show you are the alpha-chef.
8 Of course, you could carve the breast meat while it’s still on the bird. It’ll look romantic, like your home doubles as a carvery, right?  Wrong. Chalmers says people cutting like this have a tendency to go against the grain of the meat, resulting in pieces that flake and fall off, and generally look unattractive.
9 You’ll also find more dark meat on your bird. Again, remove from the bird and slice separately. It presents better and is easier in the long run. You’re hosting a 12-turkey dinner for the Branch Legion, right?
10 This is less a tip and more of an observation – turkeys in mid-carve sure are unattractive, aren’t they? If you still think you should lug the bird table-side and carve away, just consider how a bit of care and presentation will make your meal all the more palatable.
12 Pro tip: When carving your bird, place the meat into a warm pan. It will keep the meat that has been carved from cooling while you finish the job.

Some notes on knives

13 Electric knives may be the cornerstone of your father or uncle’s Thanksgiving routine, but they’re far from the gold standard. A traditional chef’s knife, long enough to slice meat cleanly and in one motion is ideal.
14 Hold the blade however is most comfortable for you, and use some logic. Fingers under the blade?  Move them! Do you look like you should be in a horror film?  You’re probably doing it wrong. Also, sharp side goes on the bottom.
15 And carefully make sure the blade is sharp.  There are plenty of guides on how to sharpen a knife online, like here or here, but Chalmers says to make sure you don’t overdo things. Three passes with the sharpening steel ought to be enough.