by Fr. John A. Peck
This Thursday is National Thanksgiving Day in the United States of America, and a great national holiday.
STEP ONE, AND THE MOST IMPORTANT THING
This is the one thing you must do to get it right, so pay attention. Unlike those ‘other blogs’ that make you wait until the end to find ‘the secret’, I believe in giving the reader what they want as quickly as possible.
So here it is.
LET THE TURKEY COOL OFF
for at least 30 minutes
Patience here brings glorious rewards. It’s not about the time, it’s about the temperature. Let it cool off.
Whether you brine it, baste it, bake it, broil it, nuke it, deep fry it, boil it, or burn it, you must let the turkey cool down. This is, for me, the hardest part of the process, and the longest part of my day. My wife (a chef) often ‘tents’ the bird in foil to keep it warm, but that just adds to the waiting time. Your bird should be cooled off enough to handle easily (without testing your manhood or your heat/pain endurance). To do it like a man means to do it and get it done right. With the bird cooled off, you can get to work without inconvenience, injury or mishap.
STEP TWO: BEGIN THE CARVING
From there, you section the bird, as you see in the diagram below. Cut the skin around the joint and then cut through the joint when you find it. Drumsticks off, thighs off, wings off.
Next, removing the breast. Simple. Take your time. Slice down the breastbone, and lift the breast away in small movements as you continue to use the knife to separate the meat from the bone. Voila. Easy peasy.
STEP THREE: SALVAGE
Finally, there will be plenty of meat left on the carcass. After the meal, get every scrap you can off of it before your wife throws it in the freezer for making stock. These little gems will make great turkey sandwiches for as long as they last. In my family, that’s about two days, if I’m lucky.
If you need a video of an expert doing it, here it is. Enjoy, and don’t over think it.
Finally, while I don’t advocate the using of a chainsaw for turkey carving, I do believe in getting the job done.
Here is the now famous “Romancing The Bird” episode of Good Eats with Alton Brown. You’re welcome. It’s worth it.
So, as Alton Brown suggests, I use an electric knife. Sue me.