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Carving Your Turkey

The Cut       
            The Right Knife
Making the Cut
The glistening bird is reclining on the platter; the stuffing has been removed and the turkey has rested for 15 to 30 minutes to allow its juices to set and make your job easier. The relatives gathered around the table are hushed with breathless anticipation. It's your moment. Here's how to make it look as if carving a turkey was your minor in college.

Step 1: Look closely at the bird. It should be breast side up. Which way is it facing? Do you know? Assuming you do, place the platter so that the legs point toward your right. Insert the fork into the bird between the leg and the breast, then slice the skin between the leg and carcass down to the thighbone.
Step 2: Prodding gently with the tip of your knife, try to find the natural division where the thigh can be separated easily from the body, then remove the entire leg and thigh. If you have trouble at this critical juncture, there is no shame in resorting to the poultry shears.

Step 3:
Using either your incredibly sharp knife or your poultry shears, cut the drumstick from the thigh, again following the natural separation.

Step 4:
If it is a large bird, slice thick pieces of dark meat from both drumstick and thigh by cutting parallel to the bone. If the turkey is small, simply place the drumstick and thigh on the platter.

Step 5:
To remove the wing, follow the same process of gently prodding with the tip of your knife to find the joint where the wing can easily be severed.
Step 6: Now carve the breast in slanting slices, parallel to the rib cage. Use long, sweeping motions, the sort of gestures a strolling violinist makes when playing a particularly emotional passage of Gypsy music and expecting a large tip. Check the side view from time to time to ensure that the slices are even and not too thick at one end or tapering into nothingness at the other. (Since carved meat cools quickly, be sure the gravy is kept piping hot on the sidelines, ready to pour over the turkey once everyone at the table has been served.) When you have finished one side of the turkey, turn it around and repeat the process on the other side.

The Right Knife

A 10-inch slicing knife with a flexible blade about 1 1/4 inches wide is ideal for carving a large turkey. To judge the condition of the blade, run your thumb lightly across — not along — the knife's edge. If it is not as fine as the edge on a razor, the blade must be sharpened before it is used.

Even if you have just sharpened your knife, it's a good idea to pass the blade over a knife steel. Doing so "trues" the knife by realigning the microscopically small teeth along its cutting edge, which become displaced with each use. Steeling is easy: Just hold the knife blade at a slight angle (15 to 25 degrees) to the steel and lightly draw it across and down the tool about a half-dozen times; then turn the blade over and repeat the process on the opposite side. A pair of poultry shears and a large fork should round out your equipment (some older forks have a thumb piece to protect this useful digit).

Thanksgiving Area Menu Bar