How to Carve & Plate a Turkey

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After slaving away brining, dressing and roasting your turkey, you want to make sure you carve it right. Meat expert Josh Ozersky explains how any average Joe can cut the bird and slice it right.

Video Transcript

Hi I'm Josh Ozersky and this is eHow.com where I'm going to show you how to carve and plate a turkey. I have in front of me a Thanksgiving turkey. It is roasted and it is rested. You've got to rest it if you roast it and there's no point in roasting if you don't rest. I have to do something else to it now and this is one of the most challenging things for many people because they came so far and put so much work into it, the last thing they want is to screw it up by butchering it and ruining it and splintering the bones and God knows what other bad things can happen. I would say that people worry too much about carving. I'm going to show you how to do it. I'm not going to do it especially well. I'm not an expert carver, okay? The bird wants to be carved a certain way. Everything in its anatomy has a structure and if you follow that structure which is really not that complicated, it should come out alright. The main thing you want to be concerned with is having a very sharp knife and making cuts that are more or less clean because you don't want to take the skin off it. That's the one thing that you kind of should be worried about. The first thing I'm going to do I don't even need to really cut this at all. I could basically just, just pull that off, so bing. Now I like to put stuff on a cutting board. I think it's cooler, you know. The first thing I'm going to do is I'm going to separate the legs from the breast which is to stay the white meat from the dark meat. Now, this has nothing holding it together and so all I have to do is push it apart. Now, nobody wants to have a quarter of a turkey so what we need to do is to separate the leg from the thigh and if you pull it you see how this little, this little piece of skin, this white piece of skin kind of wants to open up, I'm using a sharp knife but I could just easily be doing this with a butter knife. So now what I have to do is just like I did before, I found the seam and now a little bit of manly exertion and I should be able to hear a crunch, here, worse comes to worse you just break it in half, there it is, nobody's the wiser. I'm going to carve right through here and let the meat be your guide. If your knife hits a piece of bone, you're not going to cut through the bone. You're not strong. You don't have Samurai knifes. Just go around it okay? There we go. So there is a nice piece of thigh meat. Now we get to the white meat. There's two ways of doing this but luckily this happens to be a mutant turkey that was born with two breasts so I'll be able to demonstrate two totally techniques. So, the traditional ways of cooking it, of carving it rather is to, you carve down like this to the bone right? And then, you start slicing little slices. So this comes off like this and see how there was that little hold on? The reason that I cut down here, the whole reason is so that doesn't happen. You could even make a little bit of a shallower cut. You want it to slide right off. I want to slice like this, try to avoid a sawing motion if at all possible, full length. Let's cut a little bit thicker slice shall we? Alright so there we have it, there's another slice that's nice, that goes on there like so and you just keep doing it with subsequent slices. I like to make thick slices and I think it especially behooves a piece of meat that does not have a ton of moisture to have it be a little bit thicker lest it start to chip and then you know, what you do is once you have it here it looks nice if you sort of arrange it so that it's kind of tiled out, you know. Like this. I'm going to show you another technique that is cruder, easier, more efficient and gives you better slices. It is as follows: I'm going to separate down here right? I'm going to take this wing off, look at that, look at that wing, wow. You know, you could tear it off with your hand and then trim it off a little bit. So it looks a little nicer. The wing by the way is white meat, isn't that strange? It never made sense to me. Okay, this is the turkey's backbone right here. Now I'm going to find with my knife the same thing, I'm feeling for it. I'm the blind man feeling with his cane and now, I'm just going to cut all along down along that backbone there and as simple as that, boom, there's my turkey breast. I mean I can get more breast meat here, that's fine, congratulations, very happy for you, but that's really what I want at the centerpiece of my board. So, I'm going to cut away this little unappetizing piece of unbrowned skin. I'm going to trim this up and now what's going to happen is instead of having to try to like do this magic act of like slicing at this weird angle and everything, I'm just going to make people nice slices that are going against the grain of the meat and reassemble it and essentially plate it the way you would a steak. I think the key thing here and this is something that people who don't carve often forget is that you really don't have to be afraid of the meat, like it's dead, it's not going to bite you. It's been dead a long time. You can manhandle it all you want, if that helps you to cut it better, then that's definitely what you should do. So like what I have now is a relatively appetizing looking breast and I can just take this whole thing like so and I can put it over here, excuse me sir. And that is the plated turkey. I'm Josh Ozersky, and this is eHow.com.

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