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 drumsticks, in their fists. Here are steps that will walk you through the process, one slice at a time.
1. Leave it 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 to mash potatoes.
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 the other leg.
3. Thighs and drumsticks
Take the leg and 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 the drumstick whole.
Cut off the wings and serve intact or — better yet — save them to make soup later. Also cut out and save the wishbone for a competition later (the bone will need to dry out first).
Cut off the breast meat in two big chunks, one on each side, by slicing as close to the breastbone 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.