Even a novice can do a great job of carving the holiday turkey with a well-sharpened knife and these directions.
Step 1: ALLOW BIRD TO REST.
When the turkey is fully cooked,* remove it from the oven and cover with foil. Allow turkey to stand for 15 to 20 minutes before carving. This rest period lets the bird’s flesh firm up, allowing easier carving and ensuring the carved slices will hold together better.
*Always verify that the turkey is done. A meat thermometer inserted deep into the thickest part of the thigh (not touching bone) should register 165°.
Step 2: PREPARE THE TURKEY FOR CARVING.
All you need is a sharp carving knife, a fork and a clean* cutting board. Place the turkey onto the cutting board. Have a serving platter standing by to receive the carved meat.
*Avoid cross contamination. Never allow your cooked turkey to come into contact with surfaces or utensils that were in contact with the uncooked turkey or its juices.
Step 3: REMOVE THE DRUMSTICKS AND THIGHS.
Pull the tip of one drumstick away from the body (use a paper towel if it’s too hot to handle). Cut through the skin and meat between the thigh and body. Then use the tip of the knife to separate the thigh from the backbone by cutting through the joint. Repeat with the other side. Separate the drumsticks from the thighs by holding the tip of each drumstick and cutting through the joint where it meets the thighbone.
Step 4: CARVE THE MEAT FROM THE DRUMSTICKS AND THIGHS.
Hold each drumstick by the tip, resting the large end on the cutting board. Slice parallel to the bone and under some tendons until all meat is sliced. Slice the thigh meat the same way.
Step 5: CARVE THE BREAST.
Make a deep horizontal cut into the breast meat just above each wing. This cut marks the end of each breast meat slice.
Step 6: SLICE THE BREAST MEAT.
Beginning at the outer top edge of each breast, cut slices from the top down to the horizontal cut and place on the serving platter. Cut the final inner slices following the curve of the breastbone.
Step 7: REMOVE THE WINGS.
Cut through the joints where the wing bones and the backbone meet. Place the whole wings on the serving platter, if desired.