The chances are that you’ve thought about it for months, had it on order for weeks, spent north of £50 on it and dedicated most of the last 24 hours to preparing and cooking it. So you might as well get that last little bit right, and it’s a lot easier than you think! Here are some of the golden rules we follow at home:
1. This is a job for the scientist or craftsman in the family, and not necessarily the hunter-gatherer, who may just be the one who feels that they need to do it! Whatever you do, sort out who is going to carve it before the turkey comes out of the oven.
2. Have the right equipment to hand before you start. This would be a board or carving platter, a carving knife and fork, a boning or paring knife, and a serving platter.
3. Let the turkey sit for at least 30 minutes once it is out of the oven. This will give the juices time to redistribute themselves, and get the turkey cool enough for you to handle.
4. Leave the wings on, as they give the bird stability when you are working on the rest of it.
5. Take the legs off by dislocating them from the body of the bird, and splitting them into the drumstick (which you can keep whole for the look), and the thigh (which you can carve with the smaller of the two knives you have.)
6. You can either slice the breast direct from the turkey, or, as many experts recommend, remove the breast entirely to begin with. This you do by sliding the carving knife against the breast bone, and cutting through down its line until you have a joint-sized piece of breast meat.
7. Stabilise the breast on a tray, and slice it against the grain (this stops it becoming stringy) in half centimeter thick slices.
8. Use the carving fork to hold the bird steady.
9. Arrange the pieces attractively on the serving platter, as a mark of respect to the bird and to your guests.
10. Above all, enjoy.
Here’s two of the things I use from the Dexam range to make my life easier:
60 years of history in the Chichester carving dish
Craftsmanship meets nature in the Sheffield made Forest and Forge carving set