The turkey is the crowning glory of most Christmas lunch tables – and carving it is an important job.
But how do you cut and serve up such a large bird, in perfectly-spaced slices, while also keeping the meat tender?
We asked turkey farmer Tom Copas – whose family has been breeding free-range, high-welfare Copas turkeys in Berkshire for more than 65 years – for his carving tips.
1. Let it rest
Remove the bird from the tray, drain the cooking juices and then leave it to stand for 30 minutes before carving.
“The meat needs at least 30 minutes out of the oven to relax and for the heat to evenly disperse throughout the bird,” says Copas. “Also, it frees up the oven to get your roast potatoes finished off.”
2. Ensure your knife is sharp
This is key. “We always sharpen our knife. A blunt knife is dangerous, doesn’t do a good job and makes a real mess! We recommend a 23cm carving knife to give even, full slices.” Remember to remove the string too.
3. Carve off the legs first
Lots of people start with the breast, but cutting the legs and wings off first is key, says Copas. “It makes it so much easier.” Remove the entire thigh, not just the drumstick.
Carve the leg meat off the bone on a separate board or plate.
4. Remove the wings
“Pull them away from the bird. If they don’t come off with a twist, run your knife through the middle of the joint,” suggests Copas.
Place the wings whole on the serving platter, or, “if you’re not going to eat them, add them to your gravy to add even more flavour”, he says.
5. Finally, carve the breast
“Cut across the breast or across the grain as this means the meat holds together better. Going with the grain means it can flake apart,” says Copas.
The thickness of the slices is a personal preference. “It depends on how many are eating, and your appetite,” he says.
“You can remove the whole breast and slice it like a loaf of bread in thick slices or leave on the bone and cut thinner slices.”
6. Only carve what you need for that sitting
“It keeps its moisture when kept on the bones,” says Copas. “Always keep on the bone and never carve the whole bird unless you’re eating it all in one go.”
Copas Traditional Turkeys are taking orders for their fresh turkeys, hams and cheeses for collection or home delivery this Christmas. Turkeys are priced from £93 for free-range and £145 for organic.