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Do you carve your turkey in front of everyone in the dining room or just bring it out carved?

The turkey ends up looking so beautiful and then my husband just carves it in the kitchen as we make the mad dash to get the gravy done and everything on the buffet table. Does anyone actually show the whole turkey and then carve it in front of everyone? Or does this just happen in Hallmark movies?

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  1. I love to show the turkey. Whether it's carved in the kitchen or dining room depends on where I have lived and whether I have space.

    1. On all holiday family gatherings.....the turkeys and roasts are carved in the kitchen and plated family style....the same goes with all the sides....

      Anyone who wants to see the turkey before it is carved has to come into the kitchen. The only one who does come in to see the turkey is my niece, but not so much to view the turkey itself , but rather to steal as much crispy skin as she can before she is caught in the act.

      1. kitchen, people gather around to watch and talk.

        1 Reply
        1. re: JEN10

          Dining room. I've never been to a Thanksgiving where they carved it in the kitchen!

        2. It's always carved in the kitchen and brought out to the dining room all carved up on a platter.

          1. We're in the mad dash in the kitchen group. No pretty presentation here.

            1. We usually have too many people to be able to carve it in the dining room so it's done in the kitchen, usually by me so I can nibble on the bits & pieces

              2 Replies
              1. re: Cherylptw

                Stupid question...but are you carving it right on the dining room table? How do you keep it from being a total mess on the tablecloth?

                1. re: DaisyM

                  Nice, big platter! We have always carved at the table. Stays hotter that way, too, when it's not all sliced off at once.

              2. I think it depends on your carving skills, ha ha. I've seen some real hack jobs.
                After showing my quests the turkey in the dining room, I wisk it back to the kitchen for the full-on turkey assault.

                1. Carve in kitchen as "reassemble".

                  1. All of my life Thanksgiving turkeys have been carved at the table. By my grandfather when I was a kid, then by husbands (2 of them), and now by my son. For me, that's just the way Thanksgiving is. Christmas too, but that's often something like standing ribs of beef or beef Wellington. Still, it's carved at the table.

                    1. After years of alternating table carving and kitchen carving, -- and neither was entirely satisfactory -- we've hit on a very practical solution. I roast two turkeys. One is cooked, cooled and sliced the day before, gravy made and everything safely tucked up waiting to be presented. On T-Day, I roast another bird. The house smells wonderful and, best of all, the last minute dash is eliminated because gravy is already made from bird #1.

                      Bird #2 sits majestically in the middle of the platter and the already-sliced meat surrounds him. Sides are hot, straight from the oven, and dinner is served.

                      Bird #2 is sometimes carved at table when we need extra dark meat.

                      10 Replies
                      1. re: Sherri

                        Sherri, I hope your family knows how amazing you are. I think I want to come to your house this year.

                        1. re: Sherri

                          And I thought we were the only ones anal enough to roast 2 turkeys, one to carve and one to show. We don't have to carve the second for dark meat, no one but the dogs in our family like it, but we roast an extra half dozen wings and necks which are in demand.

                          BTW>>>On a practical note, most people do such a bad job carving at the table because they bring out beautiful wedding gift carving sets they use once a year that look nice but are dull and carve poorly.

                          Carving at the table means people get cold food, especially if one has good manners and doesn't start eating until everyone has been served, try waiting with plate number ine until plate 24 has been served,.

                          1. re: bagelman01

                            "Carving at the table means people get cold food, especially if one has good manners and doesn't start eating until everyone has been served"

                            There's no doubt that every etiquette book I've ever read agrees with you, but....

                            1 - There are so many dishes on the table - the stuffing, broccoli, mashed turnips, roasted parsnips, green beans sauteed with almonds, cranberry, gravy, two plates of turkey (dark and white) - that everyone is usually busy passing food around whilst I am dissecting the bird. And since my usual style is to take off the wings and drumsticks first (leaving one drumstick intact for people to fight over, but slicing the other into sharing-friendly pieces), that's going around the table as I attack the breast. So, it's not like everything's sitting on peoples' plates getting cold.

                            2 - You must have a large family! We've never had more than a dozen at our place. I can see why you need two birds. And finally..

                            3 - Both my mother (who a very proper English upbringing) and my mother-in-law, who is 100% Chinese and raised in Asia were alike in urging people to start eating as soon as a few people (3-4) had been served. Certainly, at many Chinese banquets I've been to, everyone waits for the guest of honour to be served but since he or she is usually served first, people pretty much start eating when the food hits their plates.

                            1. re: FrankD

                              #1 We don't serve family style. So plates come from the kitchen with the stuffing, veg, potato, etc. Chafing dishes with extra are set on the buffet. I do hire help to assit with serving, I don't want children or elderly realatives liftingg heavy/fragile/valuable crystal/china/silver serving pieces.

                              #2 Thanksgiving is usually approximately 20-30 people. I like smaller turkeys. The 20lb plus size tend to dry out when cooking, Multiple birds and extra of the favorite parts make it easier.

                              #3 My proper mother or other relatives don't urge anyone to start before everyone has been served. I would receive the stare of death if I started eating early.

                              Besides, we DON'T FORGET the purpose of Thanksgiving. After the plates are all set in front of the family and guests, we all give thanks before anyone eats.

                              A little self control is a good thing, and not carving at the table helps ensure everyone gets hot food when it's time to eat.

                            2. re: bagelman01

                              We like the white meat and wings as well. Last year I cooked 3 whole turkey breasts stood up on top of 28 oz tin cans in my big roaster, backs together foil over the breasts and a sheet pan of wings. Although no carving at the table it was perfect. I've never tried eating the neck I'll have to give it a go this year.

                              1. re: just_M

                                If you like to try something different, I cook my turkey breasts, sans rib cage, @ 225* on a wire rack similar to a bakery cooling rack. It usually takes 4-5 hours, but the results are very tender and moist turkey that is very easy to slice without falling apart. If you like to present the turkey at the table, it's very easy to fan out the turkey breasts side by side, sliced and fanned out. You can put the stuffing between the two breast or underneath. The wings can be placed around the breasts.

                                I've been cooking the family turkey this way for over 10 years...along with a boneless and rolled stuffed log.

                                1. re: fourunder

                                  What a great idea! Do you take the ribs out yourself or have the butcher do it?

                                  1. re: just_M


                                    I actually make the equivalent of three turkeys for Thanksgiving. One turkey is completely deboned and used to make a rolled stuffed log, 2 portions. One turkey with the two breasts (white meat) and the two legs/thighs (dark meat). Two more turkeys have their wings, legs and thighs removed with bones. I then use a cleaver to hack the backbone off through the rib areas on both sides, careful not to disturb the breasts. I then flip the two breasts over and split the breast bone with the cleaver so the two breast can lay flat. The breastbone is carefully removed and a boning knife is used to slide across the ribcage to remove the breast meat. When removing the breastbone, be careful not to puncture through the skin if you intend to present the dish on the table......depending on your preference, you can leave both breasts attached or you can split them apart. The skin will stay on the breast meat either way. You can also leave the ribcage attached to the breast to hold the shape while roasting, but I do not find it make enough of a difference and adds to the overall cook time. Leaving the two breasts attached with skin is definitely more attractive. When the meat is near done or done, I brush some clarified butter on all the skin and roast at 450* degrees to brown and crisp the skin at the end. If the bird comes with an original pop-out temperature thermometer, leave it in the breast to let you know when it is done.
                                    Again, expect at least 4 hours @ 225*. Obviously, you can go higher in temperature, but I always have the time and space in the ovens, so I am in no hurry. You can still achieve excellent results roasting up to 275*, but personally, I would not go above 250* myself.

                                    On cooking the dark meat, I slit the inside joints between the legs and thighs...I find the meat cooks more evenly and in the same amount of time as the white meat. When I forget this step, the legs and thighs take longer and do not cook as well (evenly)

                                    Lastly and for the record......I rarely use the services of a butcher.....unless I need something to be cut with a band saw.....I enjoy the challenge and savings by butchering all meats myself.

                                    Some more details from another current thread:


                                    1. re: fourunder

                                      Thanks fourunder. I will definitely be using your method this year. Who doesn't love crispy skin and tender, juicy meat? I've never asked the butcher to de-bone anything only cube or grind and there was no charge for that. If only I could figure out the right way to ask my MIL for her fantabulous set of chefs knives she has never used, oh well knife envy what can you do? Bludgeon it out ;-} Thanks again. M

                                      1. re: just_M

                                        If only I could figure out the right way to ask my MIL for her fantabulous set of chefs knives she has never used, oh well knife envy what can you do?

                                        Easy. Shame her into giving the knife set to you....when you're all at the family table giving thanks......turn and look at your MIL directly into her eyes and announce you are thankful to her for giving you such a beautiful wife to share and enjoy your life.....then tell her you WOULD BE THANKFUL IF she finally coughed up the knife set to you and her daughter to continue future family gatherings.

                          2. Bring it out carved. Like to seperate the light from the dark meat and not bring the whole thing out at once.

                            1. If you're not going to carve it in front of everyone why cook the turkey whole? It cooks so much easier (quickly, stays moist, etc.) if you cut it up before roasting (ask any institutional chef).

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: hsk

                                I agree, but since everyone has gathered in the kitchen area, it is an event in itself. The bird comes out, everyone sees it resting in the middle of the room and then the younger generations love to watch the carving take place up close. 2 Birds this year...not a bad idea.

                                1. re: hsk

                                  This is a good idea. I only have turkey once a year (Thanksgiving), and I just thought it was the "only" way to do it.

                                  Looked up the technique online. I'm going to try that this year.

                                2. I always carve at the table. It's not so difficult once you've done it a couple of times. The only really hard part is taking off the drumsticks, and if you grasp the end in a clean tea towel, a slight pull and twist lets you find the joint, and if you have any knife skills, it's easy to separate. Carving the breast is simple - one horizontal cut down low, and then easy vertical cuts give you perfect slices.

                                  After the performance, we remove the bird to the kitchen to free up table space, and yes, hacking up the lower half to get more dark meat is considerably less elegant. But everyone enjoys the sight of a perfectly roasted bird.

                                  1. I'm more a hacker than a carver, so it gets done in the privacy of the kitchen.

                                    2 Replies
                                    1. re: Harters

                                      I too am a brutal butcher. I detach the complete breasts from the carcase. I find it far easier to carve these alone then when still connected to the bone. Detaching drumsticks is a private affair. This involves exploratory surgery trying to locate the hinge. Eventually I have dissected my way down to the point that I can twist and expose the sinewy bits and make the final separating snip.

                                      The legs I always pull away from the chest. It is then only way I can get that deep crevice reasonably cooked before desiccating the entire bird.

                                      1. re: Harters

                                        Same here. I cut enough for all of the guests, separated by dark and white meat. And then I wrestle with the turkey afterwards to get the bones separated.

                                        Our family dinners aren't a formal affair. I also don't want to spend all of dinner carving out meat for the guests.

                                      2. I really like hearing about how everyone's family does the holidays. It is a little glimpse into family traditions.

                                        1. I do the Norman Rockwell thing and carve at the table. It's part of the foreplay. I'm pretty good at finding the joints on the first try and carving purdy slices and then excavating my chestnut-oyster stuffing with no wasted time. I practice safe turkey and use the roasting bags and always get a perfect moist bird.

                                          1. Due to physical problems, I am not hosting Thanksgiving this year. What a relief! I love the holiday, but it's an enormous burden, and I just can't cope right now. We'll be having our meal at one of the best restaurants in town, and I plan to enjoy every bite.

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: pikawicca

                                              Hope you have a delicious meal and a Happy Thanksgiving. No dishes!

                                            2. With four hungry boys and one diminuitive girl who out eats them in the fowl dept., carve in kitchen, load on indiv. plates, serve and have big back up plate in reserve. What left overs?

                                              1. We do the initial carve at the table and the complete carve in the kitchen. But the actual Initial carving is done on the sideboard, not the table. Hey, note to Chow moderators, a "you're doing it wrong" video segement on how to best carve a big bird might really help some folks. It's not easy to visualize how to manipulate the parts and bits like drumstick so as to get to the joint and carve it away. And if you've never seen it done right, it's a pretty mysterious business. Also knife honing how to's would be timely. Which reminds me, I need to get my knives to the store for proper sharpening pre-holidays. They do get to a point where honing just won't work anymore.

                                                1. I like to carve it in the kitchen. The rewards...nice hot crispy skin and the oyster(s)

                                                  Then there was the turkey day when everyone was in the kitchen to watch the turkey lifted onto the cutting board and slide right off onto the floor!

                                                  1 Reply
                                                  1. re: ChrisOC

                                                    OMG Chris too funny. Only to be topped by the day when I was little and my mom put the turkey in the oven ...then forgot to turn the oven on. We had to run out to the store to get more food...

                                                  2. I'd be too nervous to carve it in front of anyone!

                                                    1. Before eating I ask each person to say what they are thankful for. I hope to continue this tradition with the next generation.

                                                      1. I use an electric knife so I pretty much have to do it in the kitchen.Plus I carve on a cutting board & then put the slices on a platter. Too greasy & messy to do at the table plus then everyone is sitting there with their plates full of sides waiting for the turkey.

                                                        1. I carve in the kitchen--it's too messy otherwise.

                                                          1. Carved in the kitchen, with everyone standing around, wine glasses in hand, nibbling skin bits. Since the turkey is out of the oven resting for 30 minutes or so, there is plenty of time to admire the finished product.

                                                            1 Reply
                                                            1. For our family it's quite a different affair. We average over 100 family members with 4-5 turkeys being made. Not all will be done the same way. Some roasted, smoked or fried.
                                                              It very causal and all the turkeys are sliced a hour or so before the event begins and separated into dark meat platters and white meat platters. It is all served buffet

                                                              3 Replies
                                                              1. re: scubadoo97

                                                                Wow...100 relatives! Tell us more about your Thanksgiving. Is it held at a home or do you rent a place? How many ovens do you have to cook for so many people. Does everyone bring a dish?

                                                                1. re: DaisyM

                                                                  Yes it's true. Over 100 close relatives when I count my aunts, uncles, first cousins, their spouses and kids and now a few of their kids have kids. We are a big family.

                                                                  We've been renting out a place for at least the last 30+ years for Thanksgiving. A couple of very dedicated aunts make many of the side dishes, the turkeys are handled by a couple of people. There is a core group that does a lot of the cooking and the 26 cousins are asked to bring an app or dessert.

                                                                  For religious holidays where we may be 40-60 people a core group of aunts and cousins get together and we do most of the cooking or prep a few weeks ahead of time. My grandmother when she was alive did a lot of the cooking herself with the aid of some of her daughters and daughter in laws.

                                                                  It's a whole lot of fun for sure.

                                                                  1. re: scubadoo97

                                                                    That is just incredible! Happy Thanksgiving!

                                                              2. We usually just carve it beforehand, but that's usually because our guests show up late (and super-hungry). Besides, it's the taste that counts.

                                                                1. Like Sparkareno, I debone the breast halves and thighs of the turkey in the kitchen, slice with an electric knife and then arrange all on a platter in as close to its natural state as I can. We serve the meal as a buffet from the island so folks can feel comfortable to go back and take whatever they like. (It seems that the stuffing, made from my father's recipe with sausage and giblets, always goes first!).

                                                                  1. I thought about this a lot and tried to envision everyone sitting at the table waiting expectantly for the host/hostess to bring the turkey into the dining room for show before taking back to kitchen to carve.

                                                                    That would never happen in our family. Everyone is all over the place until all the food is on the table.