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Crash Course

How to Carve a Turkey

You sourced an organic or heritage turkey, brined it with whiskey and maple syrup for a day and a night, and slow-smoked it over hardwood. You basted it conscientiously and made gravy from the smoky drippings. Now comes the fun part—or for many people the scary part—to carve it in front of an expectant hungry crowd.

Well, we here at BarbecueBible.com have you covered. When you follow these six simple steps, anyone can approach the cutting board with confidence (after making sure that everyone has had ample opportunity to admire that gorgeous bird whole) and take a long, slender carving knife in hand. You’ll also need a carving fork or short spring-loaded tongs.

Note: Never carve or serve a turkey hot out of the oven. Let it rest, loosely draped with aluminum foil, for at least 20 minutes. The bird will be juicier.

  1. To remove one of the breast halves, use a sharp carving knife to make a lengthwise cut down one side of the breast bone.
  2. Remove the half breast and set it aside.
  3. Pull the leg away from the body with a carving fork. Slide the knife down the carcass through the leg joint and remove the leg. Set it aside.
  4. Pull the wing away from the body with the carving fork. Slide the knife down the ribcage through the wing joint and remove the wing. Set it aside.
  5. Cut the breast crosswise into 1/2-inch-thick slices, or as thick as you desire.
  6. Separate the thigh from the drumstick by cutting through the joint. Place both pieces on the serving platter (along with the sliced breast and wing) and repeat on the other side of the turkey.

Get the Bourbon- and Maple-Brined Smoke-Roasted Turkey recipe.

And find out how to make a great turkey hash with the turkey leftovers.

Do you have any turkey carving tips you’d like to share? Please post them on the Barbecue Board.

Adapted from Man Made Meals by Steven Raichlen (Workman Publishing). Copyright © 2014.

Man Made Meals by Steven Raichlen