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How to Cook a Turkey


How to Carve a Turkey
Allow roast turkey a stand time of 10 to 20 minutes before carving. The stand time allows the meat to finish cooking and reabsorb juices. It also makes carving easier.

Unless you are planning on carving at the table, place the turkey on a large cutting board with a well at one end to hold the juice. (Or place cutting board inside a baking sheet, so the juices collect on the baking sheet.) Use a long, sharp carving knife to slice and a long-handled meat fork to steady the turkey.
  1. To remove the leg, hold the drumstick and cut the skin between the thigh and the body of the turkey to the joint. Pull the leg away from the body of the turkey and cut through the joint at the backbone.

    Pull the leg away from the body and cut through the joint.
    Pull the leg away from the body and cut through the joint.

  2. To separate the drumstick from the thigh, place the leg on the cutting board, skin side up. Cut through at the joint.

    Once the leg is removed, you next have to remove the drumstick from the thigh.
    Once the leg is removed, you next have to remove the drumstick
    from the thigh.


  3. At this point, the drumstick may be served as it is or cut into slices. To slice the drumstick, hold the drumstick at an angle, bony side up. Cut down into 1/4-inch slices. Rotate the drumstick as you cut. Remove and discard the large tendons.

    To slice the drumstick, hold it at an agle and cut down vertically.
    To slice the drumstick, hold it at an angle and cut down vertically.

  4. To cut the thigh into slices, turn the thigh skin side down. Cut along the length of the bone, then turn skin side up and cut the meat across the grain.

    To slice the thigh, cut along the length of the bone.
    To slice the thigh, cut along the length of the bone.

  5. To remove the wings, insert meat fork into turkey to hold it steady. Cut down between the wing and the body of the turkey with carving knife. Pull the wing out and cut through the joint.

    Pull the wing away from the body and cut through the joint.
    Pull the wing away from the body and cut through the joint.

  6. To remove the breast meat, insert meat fork into the turkey to hold it steady. At the base of the breast meat, make a horizontal cut across the breast to the bone. Cut the slices with straight, even strokes down to the horizontal cut. At that point, the slice will fall free.

    Cut horizontally across the breastbone.
    Cut horizontally across the breastbone.
With all of your turkey cooking and carving skills, you now have no excuse not to make a turkey dinner with all the trimmings.

Want more information? Try these:

  • Cooking: Learn the ins and outs of some basic cooking techniques in this helpful article.
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  • Grilling Recipes: Check out the collection of top-notch grilling recipes at HowStuffWorks.
  • Thanksgiving Recipes: From turkey to stuffing to cranberry sauce, your eyes (and belt loop) will pop when you see all the great ideas on our Thanksgiving Recipes page.

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