For cooks, the pressure of Thanksgiving isn’t only about preparing the big bird; it’s also about turning unwieldy chunks of meat into portions your guests can fit on a fork — or, in the case of the drumsticks, perhaps in their fists. Here are steps that will walk you through the process, one slice at a time.
1. Leave the turkey alone
Place your cooked turkey on a cutting board (a damp kitchen towel under the board will keep it from slipping). Let the turkey rest for 15 to 30 minutes before you carve it. Use this time to make gravy or mash potatoes.
2. The legs
Gently pull the leg away from the body until it pops out of the socket; cut through the socket area with a knife or break it off by hand. Repeat with second leg.
3. Thighs and drumsticks
Separate the thigh from the drumstick by cutting through the joint that connects the two. Wiggle it to find the joint. Slice the thigh meat parallel to the bone. Either cut the meat off the drumstick or serve it whole.
4. The breasts
Cut off the breast meat in two big chunks, one on each side, by slicing close to the breastbone as close as you can. Then portion the breasts, slicing the meat against the grain. Try to keep a nice piece of crispy skin for each portion, and fan it out on the serving dish.
5. The wings
Cut off the wings and serve intact or save for soup later. Cut out and save the wishbone; you never know when you might need it.