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Carving and Slicing Techniques

To obtain the highest yield from cooked turkey, it is essential to have proper carving and slicing techniques. These techniques are also important for eye-appealing presentation. Here are some simple techniques to use when carving and slicing:
  • Allow turkey products of more than 10 pounds to stand at room temperature for 10 to 20 minutes after cooking and before slicing. This allows the juices to distribute evenly throughout the turkey. Netting and cooking bags are easier to remove after the recommended 10 minutes standing time. The maximum standing time should be 20 minutes.
  • Slice or carve on a sanitized cutting surface. Knives, pans and covers should be sanitized too. Re-sanitize board and knives every 30 minutes.
  • Wear disposable food-handling gloves while carving or thoroughly wash your hands frequently.
  • Immediately after the 10 to 20 minute holding time, carve turkey from it's carcass into major sections (i.e., breasts, thighs, drumsticks and wings).
  • To serve turkey hot, place the sections in pans. Cover with film to retain heat and moisture and to minimize the possibility of contamination. Hold at 140ºF or higher in a hot holding device (e.g., cabinet, steam table, bain arie). Turkey must be at least 140ºF when placed in the holding pans. The heating device will only maintain temperature. A maximum holding time of 20 to 30 minutes is recommended.
  • Slice the sections into serving pieces, plate and garnish.
  • If turkey is not to be served immediately, slice and shingle no more than 1-inch deep in shallow steam table pans. Cover with film, refrigerate at 35ºF to 40ºF. We recommend cooked, sliced turkey reach 40ºF in 2 hours or less.
Slicing Turkey Products
The carving and slicing techniques listed for whole turkey and parts also apply to turkey products. Here are some additional slicing tips:
  • Slice fully cooked turkey rolls, slabs, ovals and other shapes crosswise to desired thickness. Slice at a slight angle to achieve a more oval-shaped piece of meat for special plate presentation or for oval-shaped sandwich bread.
  • Carve the fully cooked breast or half-breast roast lengthwise with the muscle.
  • Let netted roast stand 10 minutes after cooking for easy removal of netting.
  • For ease of machine slicing, chill turkey first.
  • Because salt performs an important binding function, "no-salt" or "low-salt" products do not slice as easily, especially roasts made from more than one muscle.


Carving Whole Body Turkey and Parts.
The whole body turkey is a favorite for carving presentation in a buffet. These step-by-step instructions show the best procedures for maximum yield and most attractive presentation.

Carving the drumstick and thigh.

1. Remove drumstick and thigh by pressing leg away from body. The joint connecting leg to backbone will often snap free or may be severed easily with a knife point. Cut dark meat completely from the body by following body contour carefully with a knife. carve5 picture
2. Place drumstick and thigh on cutting surface and cut through connecting joint. carve6 picture
3. Tilt drumstick to a convenient angle, slicing toward cutting surface as shown. carve7 picture
4. To slice thigh meat, hold firmly on cutting surface with fork. Cut slices evenly and parallel to the bone. carve8 picture


Carving the breast.
Turkey breasts are typically sliced into generous slices.

Presentation carving method

1. Place knife parallel and as close to wing as possible. Make deep cut into breast, cutting to the bone. This is the base cut. All breast slices will stop at this horizontal cut. carve1 picture
2. After making the base cut, carve downward, ending at base cut slightly higher up on breast. Keep slices thin and even. carve2 picture
Kitchen carving method

1. Remove half of the breast at a time by cutting along keel bone and rib cage with sharp knife.

carve3 picture
2. Place half-breast on cutting surface and slice evenly against the grain. Repeat with second half-breast as additional slices are needed.  



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