How to Carve A Turkey

174343main_jamestownsettlement1516 "“I don’t cut like a chef, I cut like a butcher,” said Ray Venezia, the meat director for the four Fairway markets, a third-generation butcher and one of the biggest turkey purveyors in New York City.

Instead of slicing the meat from the roast at the table, Mr. Venezia’s carving protocol calls for the biggest pieces, the breasts and the thighs, to be removed whole, then boned and sliced on a cutting board. “Trying to carve from the carcass is like trying to cut it off a beach ball: it’s all curved surfaces and it moves around under the knife,” he said. “Give me a flat cutting board any time.”

Roger Bassett, the owner of the Original Turkey in Reading Terminal Market in Philadelphia, uses the same method for the 30 turkeys carved and served at his store every day. “Cutting a turkey the traditional way, where you leave the meat on the bird and cut down, you can’t cut across the grain,” he said. “The pieces you end up with are all stringy because the fibers are long instead of short.”

Mr. Venezia demonstrated the method to me twice last week; I then tested it on two roast chickens, and met with howling success.

It is important to start with a turkey that has rested for at least 20 minutes; 40 is even better, so that the meat has firmed enough to cut cleanly. Mr. Venezia does not use a carving fork. (“Why pierce the meat more than you have to and let the juices run out?”) Instead, he holds the bird in place with one hand and uses the other for cutting. "  NY Times


Do I carve the bird this way?  No, but it sounds like a good idea.   We wish you all a great celebration of this festive day first celebrated at Jamestown, Virginia.  pl

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6 Responses to How to Carve A Turkey

  1. condfusedponderer says:

    Now I expected you to write about Turkey, the PKK, Kurdish territorial aspirations and whatever else when I read the title of this thread – and now this… and it does sound like a good idea.
    Happy thanksgiving from this side of the Atlantic.

  2. Happy Thanksgiving everyone.

  3. rjh says:

    It is a great way to carve. I learned it from a chef, in the context of catering large parties. “When serving a hundred people …” It’s not just faster, you also have less wasted meat because you can peel off the entire breast without leaving scraps on the bones; and you get more uniformly sized slices which is important for “fairness” in the catering environment. Restaurants also prefer the uniform slice sizing.

  4. jamzo says:

    The tradition of harvest festivals is old, and although
    from time to time there were later presidential
    convocations of the American people to give thanks to
    God, the modern holiday was proclaimed by Abraham
    Lincoln in 1863, the third year of the Civil War, during
    which the crucial battles of Chancellorsville, a
    Confederate victory, and Gettysburg, Vicksburg, and
    Chattanooga, all Confederate defeats, had taken place.
    In October Lincoln proclaimed a day of thanks for “the
    gracious gifts of the Most High God Who, while dealing
    in anger with us for our sins, hath nonetheless
    remembered Mercy.” He is thought to have chosen the date
    in recollection of the Mayflower’s initial landing on
    November 21, 1620.
    Lincoln’s Thanksgiving Day was to become an annual
    observance on the last Thursday in November, until
    Franklin Roosevelt moved it back a week to appease
    business demands for more shopping time before Christmas

  5. chowderhead says:

    Now you tell me.

  6. JohnS says:

    I am almost in perfect agreement with Mr. Venezia. And don’t carve it at the table!
    I first remove the wings and thighs, then easily remove each breast half by slicing down first along one side of the breastbone, and then in along the bottom of the breast at a 90 degree angle. The entire half-breast comes off in one large piece. I repeat on the other side. These off the bone breasts are a cinch to slice, either thin or thick, but more importantly against the grain. It makes for a spectacular presentation, too, if you care.

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