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Who's carving your turkey? Whats your method?

Nice article in todays Times food section (http://www.nytimes.com/2007/11/21/din...) about carving the bird. I was surprised and pleased to see that we already use the method they describe (no, we're not butchers!). We always carve in the kitchen and then arrange everything back into a turkey shape on a beautiful platter. We carve off all the parts whole and then cut them into serving sizes - the breast, especially, is unbeatable this way. The job goes to my husband, who relishes it (great knife skills!). We have a beautiful carving set that belonged to my great grandparents, but it usually gets abandonded for a nice, sharp contemporary slicing knife out of our block.
What do you do? Whose job is it at your house?

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  1. IMO nothing beats a well-laden table with a gaping hole waiting for a whole turkey to complete the Rockwellian picture. And I would feel silly bringing the turkey out to fill that hole while we say grace only to bring back into the kitchen to carve. As our table overflows with food and guests, we eat buffet style and I stand towards the end carving turkey individually with a beautiful carving set that I invariably put aside after 15 minutes of mauling the turkey with a dull 20-year old blade.

    1. Saw that article and am giving it passing thought. I've done the carving ever since Dad died nearly 15 years ago and I've always done it the traditional way at the table. The job fell to me just because I, more than anyone else who will be there, knows the anatomy of the bird just from cutting up so many chickens. But that technique really appealed to me. I'm just trying to figure out, though, where I might be able to do it since I have a rather small apartment kitchen and I know every surface will be covered. I really like the idea that all the meat will be on the platter at once. I always end up carving about half the turkey, then passing the platter while I carve the rest. I'll just have to see if I can work out the logistics of it.

      2 Replies
      1. re: JoanN

        The one tip I always give people is that you have to let the turkey rest before you carve it. Many cooks rush the process (especially with a room full of hungry people) and then the turkey turns out dry. No matter how you carve it, please wait 15 minutes, at least, before you do.

        1. re: brendastarlet

          You're right. Fifteen minutes *at least*! Even with a fourteen pounder I usually give it 20 minutes and for a larger bird more like half an hour.

      2. Most important: remove the wishbone before roasting. The wishbone on a turkey is set at a deeper angle than in a chicken, but you can feel it easily through the flesh in the neck cavity. Use a very sharp shortish knife - run it along each side of each bone, then round and cut off the two ends at their easy-to-joint joints. You might have a tussle over the joining point, but fear not if a piece is left in - as carver after roasting, you can remedy that problem.

        I've always jointed and carved in the kitchen; I've never been attracted by the sight of the carved carcass on the table.

        2 Replies
        1. re: Karl S

          Before roasting? Does this make the removal of the breast portions easier upon carving? I'm intrigued, if you have time before the Big Day.

          1. re: cayjohan

            Yes, BEFORE roasting. It allows you to live the breast halves out because you can run the carving knife right along the ridge bone and not hit the wishbond where the breast meat would otherwise get caught under.

        2. I posted earlier this week about my unorthodox method -- cook two turkeys! I cook the first a day or two before T-Day, let it cool and slice, albeit unconventionally since I cut across the grain of the meat. I pack it into foil packets (light & dark meat separated and moistened w/ pan juice) and refrigerate until needed to reheat.

          On Thanksgiving, we cook the second bird who has pride-of-place on the platter, surrounded by the already-carved, now-hot turkey. Dinner is served! Everyone has a hot meal and when more turkey is needed, the second bird is available.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Sherri

            Left over turkey along side fresh cooked turkey? Blech. To me they don't even taste the same. Although I do salute your ingenuity!

          2. Two years ago, my father saw somebody use this method on the Today show (or a similar one) and he used it. I remember us all talking about what a difference it made, particularly with the white meat. We never knew that white meat could be so tasty.

            This year, my parents won't be here since they live in Florida (I live in NY), so it will be either my brother-in-law or father-in-law carving the turkey (in the kitchen). My husband has never done it, and I'm not about to let him start tomorrow on my first time hosting Thanksgiving.

            I will definitely let them know about the against the grain thing for the breast. I always do that for brisket, but for turkey, who knew?