Bill Brodsky is no stranger to carving turkeys. Before opening City Landing on the Waterfront last summer, Brodsky was executive chef and director of food and beverage at Wequassett Resort and Golf Club in Harwich. There, staff would roast and carve 40 turkeys every Thanksgiving.
This year, he’ll be serving just as many. Among the many tips he has for home cooks, the first is a confidence booster. “Carving a turkey shouldn’t be an intimidating thing,” says Brodsky. Before you start, he says, “The first rule is: Set yourself up for success.” That means starting with a knife that has a flexible blade long enough to cut through the breast. It doesn’t need to be a huge chef’s knife, just something you’re comfortable with.
“Get rid of those crazy carving tools,” he says. “Take those electric knives and put them at the next tag sale. You don’t need them.”
Have all equipment ready before you start. One restaurant trick Brodsky suggests is to put a kitchen towel on the cutting board, then place the turkey on the towel. This will keep the turkey from sliding as you break it down, and will keep excess juices from running all over.
Set beside it a big pot to put large chunks of turkey in as you carve, and a serving platter. Wear two sets of latex or vinyl gloves to protect your hands from the hot meat, and have lots of clean kitchen towels nearby. The towels are for both cleanliness as well as safety — you’ll want to periodically wipe off your hands and the knife handle. “If you have a moist knife handle it’s much more likely to slip,” he says.
Many people like to slice the breast meat from the carcass, but Brodsky advises against this. “It’s actually very difficult to carve a turkey in that manner,” he says. Instead, remove the breast first, then cut the large piece into slices.
One final tip: “Make sure you’re using an appropriate size platter for the table,” he says. “It’s a lot easier to go back and throw some more meat on a smaller platter rather than make everyone uncomfortable at the table because there’s no room to eat.”Matt Barber can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.