The changing of the leaves is a sure sign we’re enjoying fall in Minnesota and our focus has shifted from shutting down the summer cabin to dreaming of comfort-foods like hot apple cider and chili with all the fixings. Cookbooks and websites provide ample inspiration for one other seasonal fave—turkey. Let us offer a quick primer on carving the bird for special occasions like Thanksgiving and other holiday meals.
The dream of a perfectly dressed platter of beautifully carved turkey is achievable when the process is demystified, step by step
We consulted with a local chef who is well known in the Twin Cities culinary community—Royal Dahlstrom. His experience spans a distinguished career in the kitchens of leading Twin Cities’ restaurants. He has also established a reputation as an effective teacher and successful entrepreneur. To see Chef Royal in action, check out this video demonstrating how to carve an entire turkey in less than 6 minutes.
Need the process in writing?
Here is our step-by-step guide on how to carve a turkey:
Tools you'll need:
- A sharp carving knife
Chef Royal recommends truing the blade (making it straight and sharp) with a steel hone every 1-2 uses. He recommends placing the steel upside down and running the knife along the rod 3-6 times at a 12-degree angle
- A carving fork (optional)
- Cutting board
Use a board with a drip groove to catches juice that emerge during handling.
- Serving Platter
- Let the Turkey Rest: After roasting, let the turkey rest for at least 15-30 minutes before carving. This allows the juices to redistribute, resulting in a moister bird.
- Gather Your Tools: Make sure you have all the tools mentioned above.
- A chef’s knife is a traditional carving knife. Have a boning knife nearby so when you’re cutting the turkey you can work around and through the bones with ease.
- Remove the Legs and Thighs:
- Use the carving knife to cut through the skin between the leg and the body.
- Pull the leg away from the body to expose the joint.
- Cut through the joint to remove the leg and thigh in one piece.
- Separate the Leg and Thigh:
- Place the leg and thigh on the cutting board, skin side down.
- Feel for the joint and cut through it to separate the leg and thigh.
- Remove the Wings:
- Pull the wing away from the body to expose the joint.
- Cut through the joint to remove the wing.
- Carve the Breast:
- Make a horizontal cut just above the wing, parallel to the cutting board, all the way to the breastbone.
- Make a second parallel cut about ½ inch above the first.
- Hold the knife at a slight angle and slice downward, using the initial cuts as a guide. This will create even slices of breast meat.
- Use the knife to pick up the breast lobes and move to the serving platter.
- Serve and Enjoy:
- Arrange the carved pieces on a platter. You can carve the thighs or offer them whole and finish the platter with a garnish if desired.
- Serve promptly.
Remember, turkey carving is a skill that can be learned and mastered so don't be discouraged if your first attempt isn't perfect. With a little practice, the only perplexing question left will be who gets to pull the wish bone!