Talkin' Turkey


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On November 25, while millions of succulent turkeys are roasting away in ovens across America, equal numbers of home cooks will be nervously pondering how they will carve the traditional Thanksgiving turkey in front of the watchful eyes of their families. Carving a turkey can be simple, and there is no reason for it to induce a panic attack in front of your assembled guests. Chef Paul Sartory, a professor at the Culinary Institute of America, has these simple suggestions to ensure a perfectly carved turkey every time.

First, make sure your knife is very sharp. This makes carving the turkey easier and safer. A sharp knife will glide through the meat, and even cuts through joints with much less pressure than a dull one. If necessary, take the knife to a butcher shop or knife sharpener prior to the holiday so that they can put a good edge on the blade.

Once you remove it from the oven, allow your turkey to rest on the cutting board for approximately 20 minutes prior to carving. This will ensure that you do not lose the majority of the natural juices within the bird that help keep your dinner moist and delicious. Then — after allowing yourself ample elbow room — you’re ready to carve your turkey.

Step 1:
Remove drumstick and thigh in one piece, cutting between breast and thigh down to hip joint.

turkey carving step 1turkey carving step 5

Step 5: To prevent turkey from rocking back and forth, leave on wings for stability while carving the white meat. Carve down center of the top of the breast by keel bone. Slice down on both sides of the bone and loosen meat from the ribs.

Step 2: Remove leg/thigh section from socket. (You may cut meat around joint.)

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Step 6:
Beginning at the top, slice perpendicular to the bird through to the keel bone.
Pull each slice up off the rib cage and arrange the slices in a row.

Step 3:
Separate the drumstick and the thigh where they meet.

turkey carving step 3turkey carving step 7

Step 7: When you’ve finished one side, slide knife under the row of meat and transfer to a platter. Turn turkey and repeat with the second side.

Step 4: Slice meat off drumstick/thigh. Repeat for other leg section.

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Step 8:
After you remove the wings, your professionally carved bird is now ready to be served.
Dig in!


» To view a video demonstration of CIA Chef Paul Sartory carving a Thanksgiving turkey for his students, visit
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