How to Carve Meat


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After the menu has been planned, the groceries bought, the table set, and the cooking done, one of the more formidable tasks involved in holiday meals and dinner parties still remains -- carving the meat. To help you carve the main attraction like a pro, follow the helpful guidelines in this article. We've even provided illustrations to help you see exactly where you should be cutting.

Basic Carving Tips

These suggestions will help in the carving process no matter what type of meat you're facing:

  • Allow enough time before serving not only for cooking the meat, but for
    stand time and carving.

  • A stand time of 10 to 20 minutes is recommended for large cuts of meat,
    such as roasts, turkeys, and whole chickens. Stand time allows the meat to finish cooking. Meat is easier to carve after standing. If meat is carved immediately out of the oven, it loses more of its flavorful juices.

    The temperatures given for removing meat and poultry from the oven are
    5
    °F to 10°F lower than the standard final temperatures. This is because
    the temperature continues to rise during the stand time.

    During the stand time, put the finishing touches on the salad and side dishes. This is also a good time to make the gravy.

  • Unless you are planning on carving at the table, place the meat on a large cutting board with a well at one end to hold the juice. (Or, place a cutting board inside a baking sheet. The juice will collect in the baking sheet.)

  • Use a long, sharp carving knife to slice the meat and a long-handled meat fork to steady the meat.

The next section offers tips on carving boneless roasts.

Not what you're looking for? Try these:

  • How to Roast Meat: Roasting is a rather simple cooking option for preparing meat. What's more, the end result is juicy and delicious. Find tips for roasting meat in this helpful article.
  • Meat Recipes: Since meat is often the focal point of a meal, you want to make sure it tastes the very best it can. The meat recipes in our collection are sure to inspire greatness.
  • Grilling: Grilling isn't just for summertime barbecues anymore. Find out how to cook all your favorites on the grill, all year round.
  • Cooking: Learn the ins and outs of some basic cooking techniques in this helpful article.

How to Carve Boneless Roasts

Boneless roasts, like pork tenderloin, boned and tied leg of lamb, and beef brisket are easy to carve.
  1. Hold the roast steady with a long-handled meat fork.

  2. With the knife held perpendicular to the cutting board, cut across the grain into thin uniform slices. Cut the slices between 1/4- and 1/2-inch thick.

    Slice boneless roasts across the grain.
    Slice roast across the grain.
If you are carving thinner cuts of meat, like beef brisket, slice the meat diagonally across the grain. This will give you a slice of meat with a larger surface area.

Slice across the grain for thinner cuts of meat.
Slice across the grain for thinner cuts of meat.

Carving a standing beef roast is a bit trickier. Find tips in the next section.

Not what you're looking for? Try these:

  • How to Roast Meat: Roasting is a rather simple cooking option for preparing meat. What's more, the end result is juicy and delicious. Find tips for roasting meat in this helpful article.
  • Meat Recipes: Since meat is often the focal point of a meal, you want to make sure it tastes the very best it can. The meat recipes in our collection are sure to inspire greatness.
  • Grilling: Grilling isn't just for summertime barbecues anymore. Find out how to cook all your favorites on the grill, all year round.
  • Cooking: Learn the ins and outs of some basic cooking techniques in this helpful article.

How to Carve a Standing Beef Roast

When succulent prime rib is on the menu, making the right cut can really enhance the presentation and everyone's enjoyment.

  1. For added stability, cut a wedge-shaped slice from the large end of the roast so that the meat will sit flat on the cutting board.

  2. Insert a long-handled meat fork below the top rib. Slice across the top of roast toward the rib bone. This roast can be sliced between 1/2- and 3/4-inch thick.

    Slice across roast to rib bone.
    Slice across roast to rib bone.
  3. With the tip of the knife, cut along the rib bone to release the slice of meat.

    Cut along rib bone to release slice.
    Cut along rib bone to release slice.
  4. To remove the meat slice, slide the knife blade under the cut slice of meat. Holding it steady with a meat fork, lift the slice and place it on a platter.

    Slide knife under slice and then lift to plate.
    Slide knife under slice and then lift to plate.

A bone-in leg of lamb is another cut that requires some carving skills. Find tips on the next page.

Not what you're looking for? Try these:

  • How to Roast Meat: Roasting is a rather simple cooking option for preparing meat. What's more, the end result is juicy and delicious. Find tips for roasting meat in this helpful article.
  • Meat Recipes: Since meat is often the focal point of a meal, you want to make sure it tastes the very best it can. The meat recipes in our collection are sure to inspire greatness.
  • Grilling: Grilling isn't just for summertime barbecues anymore. Find out how to cook all your favorites on the grill, all year round.
  • Cooking: Learn the ins and outs of some basic cooking techniques in this helpful article.

How to Carve Bone-In Leg of Lamb

For traditional, bone-in roasts like leg of lamb, carving requires a bit more skill and technique.
  1. For stability, place the roast on its side on the cutting board with the shank bone facing away from you. Cut two or three lengthwise slices from the section of the meat facing you. This will allow the meat to sit flat on the cutting board.

    Place the roast on its side for stability.
    Place the roast on its side for stability.
  2. Turn the roast up so that it sits on the cut area. Hold the roast steady with a long-handled meat fork inserted into the meat opposite the shank bone. Holding the knife perpendicular to the cutting board and starting by the shank bone, cut across the grain into uniform, thin slices. Cut the slices between 1/4- to 1/2-inch thick.

    Place the roast on its side for stability.
    While holding steady with meat fork,
    use the other hand to cut across the grain.
    Follow the dotted line above.
  3. When you reach the bone, release the slices by cutting under them along the leg bone.

    Cut under leg bone.
    Cut along the leg bone
    as show by the dotted line above.

Knowing how to cut meat properly really goes a long way in making sure you get the most of our your meal.

Not what you're looking for? Try these:

  • How to Roast Meat: Roasting is a rather simple cooking option for preparing meat. What's more, the end result is juicy and delicious. Find tips for roasting meat in this helpful article.
  • Meat Recipes: Since meat is often the focal point of a meal, you want to make sure it tastes the very best it can. The meat recipes in our collection are sure to inspire greatness.
  • Grilling: Grilling isn't just for summertime barbecues anymore. Find out how to cook all your favorites on the grill, all year round.
  • Cooking: Learn the ins and outs of some basic cooking techniques in this helpful article.