Any holiday procedure that involves leering guests and a large knife is naturally intimidating — but don’t let that psyche you out this Thanksgiving. “Carving a turkey is actually the easiest part of the meal — and the best opportunity to shine,” says Sherrie Rosenblatt, vice president of marketing and communications for the National Turkey Federation. “If you can peel an apple,” she adds, “you can handle a turkey.” Just don’t apply exactly the same methods. Here’s how to break your holiday bird in style.

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Kagan McLeod

1. Gather your tools and let the juices flow
Basic tackle includes a sharp 8- or 10-inch slicing knife (avoid serrated blades, which will tear
the flesh), a carving fork, a long-handled spoon and a couple of cutting boards — one for the whole bird and the other for the pieces. Rosenblatt recommends placing a damp cloth under
the cutting board for stability purposes, and she prescribes a pair of disposable food-handling gloves for carvers who are leery about touching the bird with their bare claws. It’s also important to let the turkey rest in the pan for about 20 minutes after it comes out of the oven. “This allows the juices to settle and be evenly distributed,” says Rosenblatt, “and it makes it easier to carve.”

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Kagan McLeod

2. Destuff and do the legs
Remove stuffing from the neck cavity with a spoon, taking care to keep skin intact. Gently pull leg (drumstick and thigh) away from the body while slicing through the skin on the inside. The connecting joint to the backbone will either snap free or can be severed easily with the point of a knife. Part two: Separate thigh from drumstick by applying knife pressure at the knee joint. Set both drumsticks aside. Carefully cut off thigh meat parallel to the bone, slicing dark meat into even serving sections.

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Kagan McLeod

3. Now the breasts
Start with a horizontal “guide cut” at the bottom curve of the breast. Then, from the top, slice vertically along the breastbone, allowing the white breast meat to easily fall away from the body in one neat piece that can be carved on a separate board. Set aside, repeat the same process with the other half breast, then slice meat against the grain into even medallions.

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Kagan McLeod

4. Wings
Insert knife at first wing joint and twist to sever wing from carcass. Repeat with the other wing.

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Kagan McLeod

5. Tastefully arrange on platter
Notice guests’ admiration, and graciously give thanks.