Let's Talk Turkey

Let’s Talk Turkey

Every single Thanksgiving, without fail, carving duties turn into a game of Not It. How can you break down the bird without making it look like it’s been torn apart by a wild coyote? We’ve got the tips to turn you into a confident carver...it's time to tackle the Thanksgiving turkey!

Tools of the Trade:

  • A cooked rested turkey (30-40 minutes)

  • The biggest cutting board you have, the ones with a little moat-trench situation help collect all the juices. Also, we need a better name for that liquid than,“turkey juice”.

  • A large sharp knife (a carving, boning or chef’s knife all work)

  • A serving platter, tongs, paper towels

Turkey Tips:

  • Carve the turkey one side at a time.

  • Remove the appendages first (thigh, drumstick, wings).

  • Separate the breast from the carcass in one piece.

  • Wipe down your board, and then start slicing the parts into serving portions.

  • Save the carcass to create a flavorful stock for future soups. Let spirit of the turkey live on!

Plan of Attack:


1) Remove the string tying the legs together.

2) Pick a side to start with and position the turkey’s cavity to face you, the leg and thigh should be closest to you.

3) Remove the leg and thigh. Slice through the skin that connects the breast and the drumstick. Slice down until you reach the joint. Using a paper towel, grab the leg and push down, separating the leg and thigh from the bird. Use your chef’s knife to slice through the joint.

4) Cut the drumstick from the thigh. Separate the drumstick from the thigh by cutting through the joint that connects them. Set the drumstick and thigh on the serving platter.

5) Remove the wing by pulling back, as you did the legs, and cut at the joint. Cut in half and set on the serving platter.

6) Find and remove the wishbone at the front end of the breast. Use your fingers to pull it out (this makes it easier to carve off the breast meat).

7) Remove the breast by making a long, deep cut along one side of the breastbone. Follow the curve of the bone, using long strokes with the tip of your knife and gently pulling the meat away as you go. You want to feel the bones against one side of your knife as you cut, removing as much meat as possible until it releases from the carcass. The goal here is to cut the breast off the carcass in one piece.


8) Slice the dark thigh meat by holding the thigh bone with tongs or a paper towel. Remove the meat from the bone with the edge of the chef’s knife. Arrange the pieces neatly onto the platter.

9) Slice the white breast meat against the grain, taking care to keep the skin attached. Tongs can be very helpful to hold the breast in place while you’re slicing. Arrange the pieces neatly on the platter.

10) Turn the turkey around so the neck is now facing you.

11) Repeat steps 1-9 on the other side. Don’t you dare throw that precious turkey carcass away! Those bones are the start of a great stock to make soup to enjoy when you’re sick of turkey meat leftovers! Bones are gold!

Want to see the bird breakdown in action? Watch this video from Real Simple.

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