How To: Carve a Turkey

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How To: Carve a Turkey

By Jamie Deen

I really don’t remember the year I got passed the holiday turkey carving baton at Mama’s house…I just remember the mess. Now, it’s a seamless operation for me. I could probably even compete with the best of them on turkey carving speed. But in the beginning, that wasn’t the case. Looking back, I wish I had a How To Article to read with photographs for reference like this one. But when I think about it, I guess I had something even better…my mama. Her, standing over my shoulder telling me every cut to make and a brother with his mouth open waiting, not so patiently, nearby made for a quick study. Happy Thanksgiving Y’all.


Step 1: Cut the band of skin holding drumstick. Grasp the end of the drumstick. Then place a knife between the drumstick/thigh and body of the turkey, and cut through skin to joint. Remove entire leg by pulling out and back, using the point of the knife to disjoin it. Separate the thigh and drumstick at the joint.


Step 2: Make a long horizontal cut above wing joint all the way through to the body frame. If you desire, the wing may be disjointed from the body at this point.


Step 3: Slice straight down with an even stroke, at the top of the breast bone all the way through to the horizontal cut you made in the step prior.


Step 4: Remove the breast to a cutting board and slice starting at the smallest end to the largest.

Step 5: Repeat previous 4 steps on the opposite side of the bird.

Jamie’s Additional Carving Tips:
I always use mom’s Paula Deen Signature Cutlery Set when I carve my birds. Use a straight edge sharp knife for easier carving.

Be sure to allow your bird to rest for at least 20 minutes before carving.

Cut dark meat before light meat, as it will stay moist longer.

The key in removing thighs, legs, and wings from the turkey body is to run your knife along the body until you find the places where bones meet. By cutting between joints, and not through bones, you can disconnect bones without much fuss.

Don’t throw away the left over turkey parts or meaty bones. Save them for stock. If you don’t have time to make stock right away, put the parts and meaty bones in a zip top bag and place in the freezer for future use.

Terrific Turkey Recipes:
Orange Apricot Turkey
Roasted Turkey with Maple Cranberry Glaze
Roasted Turkey
Deep Fried Turkey

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Reader Comments:

I was lucky enough to meet Jamie this year at “Lady And Sons”, in Savannah.  I bought the double cookbook and have used it many times. Yum, Yum. 

This carving lesson will be added to my cooking files. After over 45 years cooking, I know a simple way to carve the “Bird”.  Thank you!
Happy Holidays to Y’all.

By carole stafiej on November 25, 2010

I thought this was the perfect guide to carving a turkey. I’ve done it quite a few times myself, always just guessing and sometimes it turns out okay and others…it’s kind-of messy !  But now I see step-by-step and next time should be a breeze. Thanks for putting this out here for people to make their holiday dinners go more smoothly. I love watchin’ the Deens on Food Network and have been a big fan for years. I love your buffet in Tunica, too !!  Much love…from my computer to yours.  smile

By Jamie Barnhill on November 12, 2010

Hello to whoever is reading this, hopefully Paula! lol. Anyways, thankyou so much for posting a how-to on carving a turkey. I must say that having cooked only six Thanksgiving dinners, I am 26, I never knew the “Proper” way to carve one and thought it was well over do that i learn. Paula Deen and to your extending family your love from the kitchen has given me such joy of cooking myself, I hope you have a Wonderful and safe ThanksGiving, Blessings to you you all.

By Amber Morris on November 10, 2010

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