It’s Thanksgiving. You’ve just pulled your turkey out of the oven and your friends and family are starving. You pick up your electric knife, (head to our top 5 electric knife choices for more on that), look down at the delicious bird on your table…and then what?
No one ever taught you to do this. How does a turkey go from bird to dinner?
And why should you use an electric knife? (My personal reason is that it takes less effort with an electric knife, and it’s easier to keep your slices perfectly as it should be even, regardless of thickness.)
How to carve a turkey with an electric knife – step by step
First, let the turkey cool for a bit. It’s easier to carve when it’s had fifteen or twenty minutes to cool. (And you’ll be less likely to burn yourself with turkey juice as you carve the bird. A warning from one who’s suffered this more than once!)
And while most people say to carve the bird at the dinner table, it’s certainly less messy- and less likely to disgust any of your vegetarian friends and family- to carve it on a cutting board in your kitchen.
Carving the Turkey
- To start carving the breast, carve straight down the bird’s sternum all the way to the bottom of the bird.
- Then, in order to separate that breast from the thigh, carve through the skin that joins them together, and you can set the breast aside to slice later.
- (When carving the breast meat, it’s a good idea to carve against the grain for maximum tenderness. And it’s okay to slice thickly here- the meat will stay warmer for longer as you will be expecting it to stay than if you carve it thinner! And look nicer too.
A juicy bit of leg
- Now that the breast is off of the bird, you can proceed to further dismantle your bird by carving off the legs as this most important for peoples’ lives.
- This is easy, as all you need to do is pull the legs aside until you hear a pop find the joints connecting them to the thighs and carve through them.
- Don’t make the mistake of sawing into the bone, otherwise, you won’t get as much meat as you want, and it will affect the presentation.
- In order to cut the wings off, flip the turkey over and do the same thing you just did to the drumsticks. (Again, if you find yourself using your knife as a saw, you’ve gotten too close to the bone. Make sure to leave the cartilage behind, you can use it for a broth later!)
Time for the thighs
So you’ve managed to carve off the breast meat, legs, and wings. Now you move to the thigh.
- First, remove the bone. The best way to do this is to turn the thigh over and carve the bone out with your knife.
- You’ll want to cut along the sides of the bone in order to make it as clean a carving as possible and to ensure you get the most meat possible.
- Like the breast, the thigh has a joint connecting it to the bone, and you want to get as much meat as you can.
- As you carve your way to the end of the thigh, pull apart the joint as you did for the other bits, and slice through it.
- Don’t just hack at the thigh, you’ll mangle the meat and it won’t look as nice on your platter. The electric knife will do all the hard work, your job is to guide it.
- The objective is to get as much meat as possible off of the singular bone in the thigh, and letting your electric knife glide along instead of sawing and chopping away will leave you with much more meat.
Well done – you’ve successfully carved your turkey with an electric knife
Now that you’ve sufficiently eviscerated your bird, and made sure the platter looks as tantalizing as it possibly can, you’re left with a decision to make. What is to be done with the bones? Well, instead of throwing them away, why not make a soup stock? (The broth made from turkey bones makes a minestrone that much tastier.)
You’ve carved your bird, amazed your friends and family with the presentation, and you’ve made a nice broth for those leftover vegetables so that you can finish them off in a nice soup in a couple of days. Next Thanksgiving, you’ll be doing it all over again!