The technique of carving a turkey by a chef in a restaurant is dramatically different than the traditional home technique. The chef style of carving is overall simpler, makes the meat more presentable on a platter, and leaves less meat on the bone. It is much easier to do the carving in the kitchen, arrange on a platter or on the cutting board, then bring out to the buffet/table. Here’s the basic steps and hints for a professionally carved turkey.
Secure a large cutting board on your counter with a dampened towel underneath to prevent the board from slipping as you are carving.
To Remove the Legs/Thighs: With the turkey breast side up, using a boning or chef knife, separate the skin between the leg/thigh from the breast. Continue cutting down and pulling the leg/thigh outward until you see the thigh joint. With one hand holding the breast, have the other holding the thigh bone near the joint and pull away to crack and separate the joint. Use the knife to remove the leg/thigh in one big piece. Repeat with the other leg. To separate the legs from the thighs, have the non-skin side facing up and feel for the joint joining the leg and the thigh. With a heavy knive, cut down right at the exact middle of that joint to separate. Present each leg and thigh whole, or simple break the meat up or slice into portion size pieces.
To Remove the Wings: Flip the turkey over so the breast is down and the backbone is facing you. Secure the turkey with one hand, and the other hand should hold the wing section that is closest to the joint where it joins the carcass. Pull back to loosen this joint, back and fourth a few times until very loosened. You should hear a “pop”/ “crack”. Remove the wing by using your knife cutting around the joint. Repeat with the other leg. To separate the wings, cut with a heavy knife right at the center of the joint for platter presentation.
To Remove the Breasts: Place the turkey breast side up again and feel with your hand between the two breasts a rigid breast bone. To remove the right breast, run the tip of your knife just slightly to the right of this bone, the length of the breast. Now, follow that line and cut a little deeper, going the length of the breast. Keep cutting and follow the natural curve of the carcass, cutting as close to the carcass as you can, but not through bones. Remove the entire breast. Repeat with the left breast. To slice the breast, slice crosswise with a carving knife into about ¼” thick slices, being careful to not disturb the skin. Each slice should have a thin slice of skin attached if desired. Repeat with the other breast. Use the carcass and any bones to make a turkey stock. Place bones in large pot, add cold water to cover, add onions, celery, carrots if desired, simmer for 4 hours, strain, cool, store for a great turkey stock. Use for soups,stews, rices, etc. Enjoy! Happy Thanksgiving.