If chicken or turkey is on the Christmas (or regular Sunday) menu, there comes the time where someone has to perilously carve into the perfectly roasted poultry, which nobody really wants to be responsible for.
Either you know what you're doing, or you hack mercilessly into the chicken and make a huge mess. This explainer on how to carve a chicken is for the latter.
Before you start, make sure you're using a sharp knife. A sharp knife will help with the whole process and result in clean, smooth cuts and pieces of meat.
How to carve a chicken or turkey
1. Remove the legs
First up when carving, remove the chicken or turkey legs. To do this, run your knife down between the breast and the leg, working on one side at a time.
At a certain point you will reach the thigh joint (you will feel resistance with the knife), at which point you should stop, put down the knife and use your hands to pull the leg up and away from the joint, without pulling it off. Then lift the chicken or turkey on its side and use your knife on the underside of the bird to cut around the thigh joint to get a clean separation. To finish the leg, cut between the drumstick and the thigh meat. Repeat on the other leg.
2. Carve the breast
Now it's time to remove the chicken breasts from the keel bone, which runs down the centre of the chicken. To do so, working on one breast at a time, repeatedly run your knife down slightly outside the keel bone -- as you work your way through the meat, keep running the knife down and gently lift and pull the breast away from the carcass with your hand. Ensure to carve around the rib bones and wish bone. You should finish with a clean piece of chicken breast. Repeat on the other side.
If you want smaller pieces of chicken or turkey, you can separate the wing from the breast and cut the breast into smaller slices. To cleanly remove the wings, find the joint between the wings and breast, and cut in and around the joint. Serve the chicken or turney on a plate and you're done.
What should I do with the chicken carcass?
Tip: don't let the carcass go to waste. If there is still meat on the carcass, use your fingers to remove the remaining pieces and use in salads, dips, sandwiches and pasta dishes. To make a healthy chicken stock, place the carcass in a large pot with vegetables and water, and simmer for a few hours.