How To Carve A Turkey?
A turkey is a large, flightless bird native to North America. The domestic turkey is related to the wild turkey; other species of “turkey” are often called guineafowl or chickens.
Turkeys have dark flesh and are somewhat overweight in comparison to standard American chicken breeds. They are so mild-tasting that they are often injected with salt, butter, and other flavorings to improve their taste.
Turkeys are widely available in supermarkets all year round and are typically sold frozen or fresh.
Do you know how to carve a turkey? If not, don’t worry, we’re here to help. In this post, we’ll walk you through the steps necessary to carve a turkey like a pro. So whether you’re cooking your first turkey or your hundredth, read on for tips and tricks that will make Thanksgiving dinner a breeze. Happy carving!
What You’ll Need To Carve A Turkey?
Carving a turkey is not as hard as it seems, but there are a few things you’ll need to have on hand before you get started:
-A carving knife. You can use any type of knife to carve a turkey, but a carving knife has a thin, curved blade that makes the job a little easier.
-A cutting board. Make sure your cutting board is big enough to fit the turkey, and that it’s sturdy enough to support the weight of the bird.
-A meat fork. This is optional, but it can be helpful for holding the turkey in place while you carve it.
-Butter or margarine. A little bit of butter or margarine can add flavor to the turkey meat, and it also makes it a bit easier to carve.
-A baster. If you want to make gravy from the drippings, you’ll need a baster to collect them.
-A spoon. A spoon is helpful for scraping any bits of meat from the turkey carcass.
-A platter or tray to hold the finished pieces of turkey. If you’re going to make a gravy, you’ll need a tray or platter to hold all your meat and drippings while you cook them down.
Make sure that when you begin carving your turkey that it is properly cooked and that it’s hot all the way through. You can ensure this by checking that both the dark meat and the white meat reach a minimum internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit A thermometer is an excellent way to check the internal temperature, but you can also use touch to see if it’s done. The turkey breast should feel firm, not mushy, and the drumsticks should be cooked all the way through.
Now that you have everything you need.
How To Carve A Turkey: Step-By-Step Illustrated Guide
In this step-by-step illustrated guide, we’ll walk through how to carve a turkey. We begin with the basic steps and then offer more detailed advice for those who might prefer more instruction. And if you’re looking for a great recipe for your Thanksgiving bird, check out our roast turkey recipe.
1) Remove the legs/thighs: Begin by removing the dark meat from the leg quarters (the upper thigh and lower section of drumstick). To do this, pull on the leg until it pops out of its socket. Cut through the skin that joins the leg quarter to the carcass at one end of this joint with a sharp knife. This will allow you to lift up and down on either side of the joint, popping it out. Cut through the meat and skin around the thighbone and drumstick – this is your “point of no return” so be careful not to cut too deep into the flesh. You should now be able to pull the leg quarter away from the carcass, exposing the thighbone and drumstick.
Cut off the thin layer of meat that covers the drumstick (known as “the pope’s nose”). Cut along either side of the thighbone all the way down to where it meets the carcass. Finally, cut through the meat and skin around the top of the thighbone – again, being careful not to cut too deep.
2) Remove the wings: Next, remove both wings. To do this, cut through the skin that joins the wing to the breast and then pull on the joint until it pops out of its socket. Cut around the main bone, pulling back on the wing to expose it and cutting through any sinew/tough tissue you find there (this is where a sharp knife comes in handy here).
3) Remove the breast: Finally, we come to remove the breasts from either side of the carcass. Start by sticking your knife into one corner of the breast bone (aka keel-bone), angling down towards the middle of the bird. Use short strokes to cut through all layers at roughly a 45-degree angle towards the centerline of the cavity opening – you’re trying to follow the line in which the keel bone naturally divides. You’ll see a bit of cartilage in the way, make sure you cut around this and remove it with your hand. When you get to the end of one side, turn your knife over and repeat this process on the other side – again starting from the corner of the breast bone and angling down into the middle of the bird.
4) Remove backbone: At this point, you should have a carcass that is basically “skeletal” (minus some meat still attached to the wings and drumstick), along with two breasts on either half. Turn carcass so that what was once skin-side up is now facing skin-side down (so the underside of turkey is now facing you). Locate the backbone and cut down one side of it with your knife, then flip the bird over and do the same on the other side. You can now remove the backbone by pulling it out (or cutting if needed).
5) Carve the breasts: Finally, we come to carving the breasts. This is where things can get a bit more tricky, as there are a lot of bones and tendons running through the meat. But don’t worry, we’ll walk you through it. Start by locating the “V” shaped tendon that runs along the top of the breast – this is what we’re going to cut through first. Cut vertically down one side of this tendon, then turn your knife so that blade is horizontal and slice through the meat on the opposite side of the tendon. You should now have two thin slices of breast meat.
6) Carve the rest of the breast: Next, locate the smaller “wing” bone that is still attached to the thicker breast bone. Cut vertically down one side of this wing-bone, then turn your knife so that blade is horizontal and slice through the meat on the opposite side of the wing-bone. Again, you should now have two thin slices of breast meat. Finally, cut away any remaining meat from around the breast bone.
7) Carve the drumstick: The last part we’ll carve is the drumstick. Start by cutting off the thin layer of meat that covers it (known as “the pope’s nose”). Next, cut around the ball-and-socket bone that is now exposed. This should allow you to pull the drumstick leg off of the thighbone. Now, just stick your knife into one side of the joint that connects the drumstick to the carcass and pull back on it until it pops out. You can now slice away any remaining meat from around this joint.
8) Carve the wings: Finally, we have our wings to carve… but not before removing all those little bones first! To do this, start by cutting along either side of the whole bone – again being careful not to cut too deep so as not to lose any meat. Cut through any sinew/tough tissue you come across. You can now pull out any small bones stuck to the meat or remove them completely if desired. Then, turn your knife so the blade is vertical and very carefully cut through the “V” shaped tendon on one side of the wing – we’re going to be working around this bone in particular. Once done, you can repeat on the opposite side. Finally, just cut away any remaining meat from around “V” shaped bone and cut off the wingtip (if desired).
9) Carve and serve: And that’s it! We hope you found these carving instructions helpful when cooking a Thanksgiving meal for friends/family this holiday season.
Tips For Carving A Turkey:
-If you’re not sure which piece of meat is which, check the bone. The dark meat will have a reddish hue to it and the white meat will be lighter in color.
-Remember to keep your knife on a flat surface as you carve so that you don’t end up cutting the meat at an angle. This will help ensure that your slices are even and look attractive when served.
-If there are any bones left on your turkey pieces, they can be easily removed by running your fingers along their length and pulling them out. Just make sure to be cautious of any sharp edges that remain.
-If the turkey is difficult to slice due to being overcooked, wait for it to cool off a bit before you start carving so that it isn’t too difficult or dangerous to carve through.
-The bone structure of turkeys can vary greatly from one bird to another. Some have thinner bones than others, making them much easier to cut through. Others are very dense and require more time for cutting – just keep in mind how easy or hard it generally is to cut apart your turkey pieces based on their size. It will help you know what you are getting into if you have multiple birds cooking at once!
How To Carve Drumsticks Turkey: Step-By-Step Guide
Carving a turkey can seem like a daunting task, but with these simple step-by-step instructions, you’ll be able to carve your turkey like a pro in no time!
- Start by removing the drumsticks from the bird. Cut through the skin and meat where the drumstick meets the bird.
- Once the drumstick is free, cut off the end of the drumstick that contains the bone. This is known as the “knuckle.”
- Make a few slices into the meat of the drumstick, running parallel to the bone. Then, using your fingers or a fork, start to pull the meat away from the bone. Be careful not to cut yourself!
- Continue to pull the meat away from the bone, until the drumstick is fully carved. Repeat these steps for the other drumstick.
And that’s how you carve a turkey! With these simple steps, you’ll be able to carve your turkey like a pro in no time. Enjoy!
How to Carve Turkey Breast: Step-By-Step Guide
Step 1: Remove The Breast
If you’re serving a whole turkey, this is where the fun begins. It’s always best to let your turkey rest for about 10 minutes before carving so that the juices don’t run out when you cut into it. If you have a small enough bird that doesn’t need slicing then just cut each breast off the bone.
Step 2: Slice The Breast
Slicing is easy, just cut nice even slices for presentation purposes and so everyone gets an evenly sized serving. It’s easiest to use a carving fork to hold the meat in place whilst slicing it- although you can also do this with tongs or your fingers (if they don’t mind getting very messy). You’ll probably end up with some little bits of white flabby skin that won’t look great on your plate- pull them off and discard them if you like but I think crispy skin has its own special joy.
How To Carve Turkey Wings: Step-By-Step Guide
With all the Thanksgiving turkey leftovers, some people can’t help but save a little bit of deliciousness for later. If you’re one of those people with leftover turkey meat, then keep reading. In this article, we’ll show you how to carve a turkey wing and make it taste as good as your first Thanksgiving meal!
Here’s what you need:
- 3 ounces cooked turkey wings
- 4 ounces chicken broth
- 1 ounce milk
- 2 ounces butter
- Salt and pepper to taste Seasoning (optional)
Read on to learn how to carve these juicy wings!
- Remove bones from wings by pulling them out with your fingers. Cut off any extra pieces of meat that were not removed by this process. Set aside the bones for later use in soup or another dish.
- In a small saucepan, bring the chicken broth and milk to a simmer.
- Add the butter and salt and pepper to taste. Stir until the butter has melted.
- Pour the broth mixture over the carved wings and serve immediately. If you would like, you can also add some seasoning to give them an extra punch of flavor.
Enjoy your delicious turkey wings! With this easy step-by-step guide, anyone can make them taste like a Thanksgiving feast all over again! Happy carving!
Why Do We Carve A Turkey At Thanksgiving Dinner?
A turkey is generally carved in the kitchen, then brought to the dinner table.
The tradition may come from an old belief that bringing a large cooked bird directly to the table will bring bad luck–a superstition based on the fact that if it falls while being carried, it could lead to broken dishes and general havoc. Apparently carving the turkey in the kitchen helps avoid any possible catastrophe!
Another explanation comes from Medieval times when birds such as swans were often presented at feasts “in their feathers.” The carving was done before serving so no one could be accused of stealing any of the prized plumage. It must have been quite a production to both cook and carve this magnificent bird before it got into anyone’s hands! The term “carving the bird” may have simply stuck around even after larger domesticated turkeys became the norm at Thanksgiving feasts.
Another theory comes from Benjamin Franklin, who believed that the tradition began when Pilgrims offered their feathered quarry to the Native Americans in an attempt at peace and friendship.
And finally, carving a turkey is just a convenient way to get those perfect, individually portioned servings that we all love! No one wants to be stuck with the biggest piece of meat on the bone or have to fight over the last drumstick. Carving makes sure everyone gets an equal helping of everything (including the stuffing and gravy!) and no one goes home hungry. Whatever its origins, enjoy this time-honored custom and bon appétit!
How To Prepare The Turkey For Cooking: Step-By-Step Guide
Now that you have chosen the perfect turkey, it is time to prepare it for cooking. Follow these simple steps to ensure a delicious and juicy bird.
- Remove the giblets from the cavity of the turkey. The giblets are the organs located in the bird’s chest and neck cavities. They typically include the heart, liver, and gizzard. Also, remove the neck from the bird. The neck is a long piece of skin located at the cavity opening.
- Remove any excess fat from around the turkey’s inner cavity and wings with paper towels. Turkey skin often contains a lot of fat, especially around areas such as the tail and thighs where it is difficult to remove. Removing as much of this fat as possible will help reduce the risk of your turkey becoming greasy.
- Rinse the turkey inside and out with cold water. This will help remove any debris or blood from the bird.
- Place the turkey in a roasting pan. If you do not have a roasting pan, you can place it in a large baking dish instead.
- Season the skin of the turkey with salt, pepper, and herbs such as rosemary, thyme, or sage. You can either do this by sprinkling the seasonings directly on the bird or by placing them in a small bag and then rubbing them all over the skin.
- Tuck the wings behind the turkey’s back and the legs into the inner cavity. If you still have a neck, place it in the cavity as well.
- Cover the turkey with aluminum foil and let it rest for one to two hours before cooking. This will allow time for the juices to settle throughout the meat.
- Preheat your oven to 325°F (163°C) while your turkey rests on the countertop.
- Remove your roasting pan from the oven and carefully remove aluminum foil coverings from both bird and roasting pan so they do not tear or rip off any of the skin when removing them. Do this early on if necessary because your pan may dry out during cooking otherwise, which would give your bird an unappealing texture.
- Place the turkey in the oven and cook for 25 to 30 minutes per pound, or until the juices run clear when you pierce the thickest part of the thigh with a knife. Cooking times will vary depending on your oven, however, which is why it is important to use an oven thermometer. It should also take around 15 minutes to preheat. If it does not, adjust accordingly by turning down your oven’s temperature if it gets too hot during that time.
- Remove the turkey from the oven and place it on a serving platter once you are finished cooking it, then let rest for 20 minutes before carving. This allows plenty of time for you to prepare all of your side dishes while giving the juices inside the birds time to redistribute throughout it. This will make for a more delicious meal.
- Enjoy! Knowing how to prepare your turkey before cooking ensures that you will end up with a moist, tasty meal full of savory flavors.
How To Cook A Frozen Turkey: Step-By-Step Guide
A lot of people are still asking how to cook a frozen turkey, so here’s the step-by-step guide.
1) Allow for enough time
Begin thawing your turkey 24 hours before you intend to cook it. A 20 lb bird will take about 4 days in the refrigerator to thaw. If you’ve opted for just a frozen bird, you will need approximately 7-8 hours to defrost in a cold water bath.
2) Rinse the bird
Make sure to rinse your turkey inside and out with cold water. Rinse off any ice or frost.
3) Remove the innards
Remove the neck and giblets from the body cavity of the bird. The liver, heart, and gizzard can be reserved for gravy or stuffing if desired.
4) Trim excess fat
Trim any excess fat from around the outside of the bird. You can save this rendered fat to cook with later on. 5) brine the bird (optional)You can choose to brine your turkey before cooking it, which will add flavor and moisture throughout the meat. Here’s a great brine recipe for you to use:
1 gallon boiling water, 3/4 cup salt, 2/3 cup sugar, 1 tbsp chopped fresh thyme leaves, 4 bay leaves, crumbled 3 garlic cloves, minced 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper 1 lemon, quartered 3-5 lbs of your favorite ice cubes Steps for Brining In a large pot or bucket with a lid, dissolve salt and sugar in one gallon boiling water. Allow it to cool completely before adding the remaining ingredients. Add remaining ingredients except for ice. Submerge turkey in brine solution and add enough ice to make sure all the bird is completely cooled down. Brine overnight for up to 24 hours.
6) Preheat the oven
Preheat your oven to 325 degrees F.
7) Tuck the wings
Tuck the wings behind the bird’s back. This will help keep them from burning.
8) Place in a roasting pan
Place the turkey in a roasting pan on a rack. This will allow the heat to circulate evenly and prevent the bird from sticking to the pan. If you don’t have a rack, you can use crumpled-up tin foil.
9) Insert a meat thermometer
Insert a meat thermometer into the thickest part of the thigh, making sure not to touch the bone. You want the internal temperature to reach 165 degrees F before removing it from the oven.
Roast the turkey for about 3 hours, or until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees F. Check on it occasionally to make sure it’s not browning too much. If it is, cover it with foil.
11) Let stand
After removing from the oven, let the turkey stand for about 15-20 minutes before carving. This will allow the juices to redistribute and result in juicier meat. Enjoy!
How To Roast A Turkey Upside Down: Step-By-Step Guide
What you will need: A turkey; an oven; aluminum foil; a roasting pan with a rack in it OR wire cooling racks and heavy-duty aluminum foil.
1) Preheat your oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit (165 degrees Celsius). While your oven is preheating, remove the giblets from inside of the turkey’s cavity and then rinse the turkey inside and out under cool water. Drain any excess water from the turkey but be careful not to dry off too much moisture or else this could cause your skin to become crispy rather than moist and tender. After rinsing, pat your turkey dry with paper towels and rub it all over with salt, pepper, and any other spices that you want on the outside of your bird.
2) If you are using a roasting pan with a rack in it, place the turkey on the rack so that it is not touching the bottom of the pan. If you are using wire cooling racks placed inside of heavy-duty aluminum foil, place the racks in the roasting pan and then crumple up enough aluminum foil to make “sausages” that will keep the turkey from touching the racks (or if your racks are nonstick, you can skip this step).
3) Roast your turkey in your oven for 3-4 hours or until a meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh registers 165 degrees Fahrenheit (75 degrees Celsius). If at any time during cooking your bird starts to get too browned on top, you can cover it with foil. I recommend checking the temperature in the thigh rather than the breast since it will have less exposure to the oven’s heat and also because of safety reasons (see below).
4) When your turkey has reached an internal temperature of 165 Fahrenheit (75 Celsius), remove it from your oven and allow it to rest for at least 30 minutes before carving. This resting period gives more moisture time to reabsorb into the turkey rather than escape during carving. Do not skip this step or else you will lose way too much precious fluid that is essential for moist meat!
5) After your bird has rested, carve away! Your roasted turkey should be nicely bronzed all over, have crispy skin, and most importantly be fantastically moist throughout.
The dangers of cooking a turkey in an oven: As I mentioned above, it is never recommended to cook any kind of poultry or meat at temperatures higher than 325 degrees Fahrenheit (165 degrees Celsius). This includes turkey, chicken, beef… you name it! If heating these types of meats at high heat for long periods of time, the proteins in the meat will start to break down into smaller fragments that are not safe to eat. These small protein fragments become carcinogenic when they are cooked at high heat.
How To Make A Bacon-Wrapped Turkey: Step-By-Step Guide
- First, make sure you buy a turkey that is not frozen. You can usually find fresh turkeys in the back of the area where they sell poultry at your local supermarket; if you don’t see any, ask someone who works there. If you do not have access to fresh turkey at Thanksgiving time, simply go with the next best thing: frozen turkey that is specifically labeled “precooked.” Remember that it will still need to be cooked for several hours in an oven or slow cooker/crockpot.
- Take your thawed (or freshly killed) turkey out of its packaging and place it on a flat surface such as a cutting board or countertop. Now, carefully remove the neck and giblets from inside the bird (you can either discard these or save them for later use in gravy or stuffing).
- Next, take some bacon and cut it into thirds or fourths – you want enough bacon to cover the entire surface of the turkey. Place a strip of bacon on top of each breast and tuck it underneath. Then, place another strip of bacon over the top of each thigh and tuck it underneath. Finally, wrap a couple of slices around each drumstick.
- If you’re using an oven, preheat it to 325 degrees Fahrenheit before placing the wrapped turkey inside (try not to let the bacon grease drip onto the bottom of your oven – it will create quite a mess). Cook for 3-4 hours, or until the turkey’s internal temperature reaches 160 degrees Fahrenheit. If you’re using a slow cooker/crockpot, then cook for 8-10 hours or on a low setting, and check occasionally to make sure that there is enough water inside to keep the meat from drying out.
- Take your wrapped turkey out of the oven/slow cooker/crockpot and let it cool for about 10 minutes before cutting into it so that the hot juices don’t burn you: After allowing time for cooling, carefully cut off several pieces of bacon and try them to see if they’ve achieved the right degree of crispiness (you may also want to test for doneness with a meat thermometer).
- Enjoy! Bon appétit!
Some people like to add a little bit of extra flavor to their bacon-wrapped turkey by sprinkling it with some herbs or spices before cooking. You can use your favorite seasonings, or try something like smoked paprika, garlic powder, or black pepper. Experiment and see what you like best.
One important note: since bacon is made with salt, you’ll need to be careful when eating your wrapped turkey. Make sure that people know not to eat any of the skin (it will be salty and unpalatable).
Also, remember to discard any uneaten pieces of turkey after serving – do NOT save them for later! Leaving cooked meat sitting at room temperature can present a significant food safety risk.
Turkey Thanksgiving Recipes:
There are many different recipes for Thanksgiving turkey, but all of them involve cooking the turkey in some way. Some people prefer to roast the turkey in an oven, while others prefer to fry it. There are also recipes that call for baking the turkey or cooking it in a slow cooker. No matter which recipe you choose, your turkey will be delicious and everyone will enjoy it!
If you are looking for a new recipe to try this year, here are a few of our favorites:
Roasted Turkey with Apple and Sage: This recipe is simple but flavorful. The apple and sage give the turkey a delicious flavor that everyone will love.
Fried Turkey: If you are looking for a crispy, juicy turkey, then this recipe is perfect for you! The fried turkey looks beautiful and tastes delicious.
Slow Cooker Turkey: If you are strapped for time, then the slow cooker turkey will be perfect for you. You can let your crockpot do all of the work while you enjoy Thanksgiving with friends and family!
Oven-Baked Turkey: This oven-baked turkey has a unique flavor that everyone will love. It includes a brown sugar glaze which makes the skin nice and crispy.
Balsamic Chicken Cranberry Roast: If you have a picky eater in your home who only eats white meat, then this is the perfect dish for them. It is made with chicken breasts as well as boneless, skinless thighs to make it extra juicy.
What If I Do Not Have A Carving Knife?
Carving knives are designed to follow the contours of a turkey’s body. If you have no carving knife at home, a chef or any other sharp kitchen knife will do. You can even use a saw!
What If I Do Not Own A Roasting Pan With A Rack?
You may place the whole turkey on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil before placing it in the oven. Or, you can purchase an oven-safe wire rack and place it inside your roasting pan before adding the turkey and vegetables/spices. This will lift up the bird so heat is able to reach all parts of it during cooking.
What If My Oven Does Not Fit A 20-Pound Turkey?
Either find another location for your holiday meal or purchase a smaller turkey.
What If My Oven Is Too Small To Fit The 20-Pound Turkey?
Purchase a smaller turkey! Or, make do with what you have by making an extension for your roasting pan. You can always ask guests to bring side dishes or desserts in order to fill up space in the oven.
What If I Discover Pink Meat When I Am Cutting Into My Turkey?
The turkey is not done. Return it to the oven and check it again in 5-minute intervals until fully cooked.
What If I Cannot Cook My 20-Pound Turkey Within One Hour?
You may need to purchase an oven-ready turkey, which has already been partially cooked. These turkeys can be found at most grocery stores.
What If I Forget To Take The Stuffing Out Of Turkey Before Cooking It?
You may cook the stuffing inside the bird, but it is not recommended. The stuffing will not cook evenly that way and there is a higher risk for bacteria growth. It is safer to cook the stuffing separately in a casserole dish.
Can I Freeze Carved Turkey?
Yes, you can freeze carved turkey. However, it is important to note that the quality of the meat will diminish over time. It is best to freeze the meat as soon as possible after carving.
What Is The Best Way To Reheat Carved Turkey?
The best way to reheat carved turkey is in the oven. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F and place the turkey on a roasting pan. Cook for 10 to 15 minutes per pound.
How Long Can I Keep Carved Turkey?
Carved turkey should be eaten within 3 days, or it can be frozen for up to 2 months. If you freeze the meat, make sure that it is tightly wrapped and placed in a freezer bag.
How Do I Store Turkey After It’s Been Carved?
When storing the meat after carving, make sure it is tightly wrapped and placed in a freezer bag or other airtight container so it does not dry out. The meat should be eaten within 3 days of being stored.
What Is The Best Way To Thaw A Carved Turkey?
The best way to thaw a carved turkey is in the refrigerator. The process will take 24 to 48 hours, depending on the size of the turkey. You can also use the microwave, but make sure that you cook it immediately after thawing. Do not refreeze the meat.
How Do I Reheat A Frozen Turkey In The Oven?
The best way to reheat a frozen turkey is by preheating the oven to 325 degrees F and placing the turkey on a roasting pan. Cook for 10 to 15 minutes per pound. If you want, you can also cook your cornbread dressing at this time.
Is It OK To Leave Turkey On The Counter?
No, you should not let your turkey sit out for more than 2 hours. Always carve your turkey before leaving it out. Make sure that you eat your leftovers within 2 days of carving the meat.
Carving the turkey is a tradition that has been around for generations. The steps are easy to follow, but can be difficult when you have never done it before. We hope this article was helpful in giving some insight on how to carve your Thanksgiving bird properly! Whether you’ve carved it many times or not at all, we encourage everyone to take their time and enjoy one of our favorite American traditions with family and friends during Thanksgiving weekend.