(Tom McCorkle for The Washington Post/Food styling by Lisa Cherkasky for The Washington Post)
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You’re going to do this — carve a turkey into pieces fit for a crowd. Learn the steps on this 3-D model bird (which just happens to be The Washington Post’s Simply Seasoned Turkey recipe), and you’re guaranteed not to cut a finger.
You’ll see there’s a clean kitchen towel on the cutting board in the 3-D model below. Why? The towel will help keep the bird from slipping around. When it’s time for you to wield an actual knife — after the turkey has rested for at least 30 minutes — choose a sharp, flexible one that feels comfortable in your hand.
The first cut is between a leg quarter and the body of the bird. Cut all the way through, along the dotted line in the 3-D model above, and pull away.
(Aaron Steckelberg/The Washington Post)
Turn the leg quarter skin-side down on the cutting board; feel with your finger to locate the joint that connects the leg to the thigh. To separate the leg and the thigh, cut to the right of that joint — you don’t have to cut through it!
To cut the thighs for serving, you need to debone them. So turn over each one and cut along the bone to release the meat. Cut again at the top and bottom of those bones and pull them away. Then turn your now-boneless thighs skin-side up on the cutting board and cut crosswise into slices or chunks.
Cut the V-shaped wings away from the bird on both sides; cut each one into flat and drumette (like chicken wing parts), if you wish.
Then, cut as close to the rib cage as possible, down to where the breast half naturally tapers off. Make a long horizontal cut, parallel to the cutting board, along the bottom edge of the breast half.
It’s nice for your platter arrangement to have symmetry so folks around the table or at the buffet have equal access to light and dark meat. Spoon some pan juices over the cut pieces. Tuck in a few fresh, seasonal herbs like sage and rosemary, and you’ll present your turkey like a pro.
BONUS: Don’t toss that carcass! Later on, after you’ve extracted any bits of meat left behind, cut or break it up into 3 or 4 pieces; then you can freeze the bones in zip-top bags for making turkey stock.