Learn how to avoid these common mistakes for success every time.
38. The Turkey Hack Job
Result: Your turkey platter resembles a crime scene.
On turkey day, it's your well-earned right to parade that magnificent roasted bird around the dining room. But carving is best done where there's elbow room and a large, stable cutting surface. You'll need a well-honed knife; have it professionally sharpened before the big day.
Now, as the pros say, "break" the bird down in the right order (this is where many cooks go wrong—trying to slice meat directly off a big, hot bird). Leg quarters come off first, then breast meat, with the tucked-under wings serving to stabilize as you cut. Set the big pieces onto a cutting board where you can deal with them properly.
Take the breast meat off the bone in one piece, then slice crosswise, which ensures uniformity and allows for slightly thicker slices that are juicier and less fibrous than thin portions. Cut the thigh meat into large chunks. Reserve room on the platter for legs if you have a Henry VIII in the family.
Oh, and remember—in the days leading up to Thanksgiving, you can always practice your technique on a nice roasted chicken: same configuration of bird parts, no game-day pressure.