How to Carve a Turkey: The Beginner’s Step-by-Step Guide

Carve a Turkey

When it comes to carving the holiday roast, it’s important you have the right tools. While asking your friend to grab “any knife they can find” is okay for amateurs, there are few humiliations worse than struggling to put meat on a plate in front of a table of hungry onlookers. (Remember, butchering the meal after it has been cooked isn’t something to be proud of).

So, in order to avoid public mockery, choose your meat cutlery carefully.

For your Thanksgiving turkey or ham, there’s nothing better than the Schmidt Brothers Carbon 6 Carving Set. Complete with two pieces (8.5” Carving Knife and 7” Fork), this set is designed to make you cut like a total pro.  Crafted with your holiday ham and Thanksgiving turkeys in mind, you’ll feel like a boss handling the pure German Stainless Steel with precision and balance - exactly what you need. If you don’t have a Carving Knife, don’t stress - your sharpest Chef Knife will do just fine! 

Now that you have your tools down, let’s talk turkey.

Easy as 1-2-3 

  1. Let the turkey rest for 15 - 30 minutes (at least). Resting helps the meat settle and reabsorb the juices so they don’t spill everywhere!  As an added bonus, the turkey can cool slightly so that you don’t burn your hands while handling it.
  2. Prep your station.  Place the turkey on a large carving board. Make sure you have your serving platter, paper towels, and your sharpened Carving Set or Chef’s Knife. Remove the trussing string if you used one, and arrange the turkey so the legs are facing you.
  3. One at a time.  We recommend carving one side of the turkey at a time so you don’t have to flip it and turn it around and around.  Set the bird on the board with its cavity facing you. 
  4. Separate the leg and thigh from one side.  Slice through the skin that connects the breast and drumstick until you can feel the bone.  With your paper-towel covered hands, pull back the leg until the joint pops.  Press firmly on the joint to completely sever it, and then run the knife between the thigh and back bone (angling the knife towards the bone) to cleanly remove the leg piece.  Repeat this for the other leg and thigh.
  5. Separate the drumstick from the thigh bone. Place the leg pieces skin-side up on the cutting board. Cut right between the drumstick and thigh at the joint. 
  6. Remove the breast from the same side. Start with the breast first. Staying on the same side of the turkey that you’ve been working, slice the skin on the top of the turkey from the neck joint and wishbone first.  Then, slowly slice the knife through the breast meat, removing as much meat as possible.  Slice the breasts at an angle into 1/4-inch thick slices.  Place the sliced breast on your serving platter.  
  7. Moving onto the wing.  You’ll want to pull the wing back, as you did the legs, and cut at the joint. 
  8. Repeat with the other side. Turn the turkey 180 degrees, and then repeat the above steps removing the leg and high first, then the breast and wing. 
  9. Serve Right Away.  Carving will cool down your bird pretty quickly, so either serve right away or cover and stash it in a warm oven until you’re ready to dig in. 

A few other tips:

  • Sharpen your knife at home before getting started.  The sharper your blade, the safer and easier it is to handle. 
  • A wood cutting board will be best for this job.  Stone, glass, and metal boards are too hard for these blades.
  • If cutting through bone, do not use any knife but a meat cleaver, as other blades can be easily damaged.
  • Hand-wash with warm water and a mild detergent.  Do not use a dishwasher to clean Schmidt Brothers [or any fine cutlery].

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