How to Cut Out a Turkey Neck

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Turkey necks cleaned and ready
Turkey necks cleaned and ready (Image: turkey necks image by Maria Brzostowska from Fotolia.com)

Butchering a turkey is similar to dressing chicken or game birds but everything is bigger and tougher. Once the turkey is plucked, it's time to remove the head and neck before moving on in the gutting process.

Things You'll Need

  • Sharp, thin-bladed knife
  • Turkey

Flip the turkey over onto its back. If you're working with a very large bird, prop it up so it doesn't slip around. If you're right-handed, hold the neck in your left hand; if you're left-handed, hold the neck in your right hand.

Remove the turkey's head. Cut the neck skin and pull it aside. Insert the knife between joints where the head meets the neck and cut while twisting the head gently.

Pull the turkey neck out straight. Use just the tip of your knife to cut the skin at the chest wall in the small depression between the neck and breast. Cut carefully so you don't rupture the stomach.

Use your fingers to pull away the fat and skin until you see the stomach. Pull the stomach out of the carcass and discard.

Get your fingers under the aorta, windpipe and esophagus. Pull gently while cutting as deep into the cavity as possible. Push them out of the way until you can see the base of the neck. Avoid cutting the crop.

Insert the knife between the neck bones and cut downward in a smooth motion, twisting the neck with your other hand to separate it from the carcass. It's important to cut between bones in the neck joint.

Remove the aorta, windpipe, esophagus and crop and discard. Place the neck in cold water while you finish butchering the turkey.

Tips & Warnings

  • Turkeys have tough necks, so you may need a helper to steady the bird while you remove the neck.
  • Turkey necks and giblets add delicious flavor to gravy. Simmer in two cups of water for 20 minutes to make a little stock. Remove the meat from the bones and chop the meat and giblets finely to add to gravy.

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