The old school trick to perfect turkey carving, every time

Yes you can carve a turkey!
Yes you can carve a turkey!
Image: The Food Lab: Better Home Cooking Through Science
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It鈥檚 the moment of truth at any Thanksgiving. Whether in the privacy of your kitchen or under聽dining room scrutiny, carving up a Thanksgiving聽turkey is a major holiday moment with a lot riding on it. Yet while聽tips and聽instructions for the shaky-handed abound, the聽best聽trick for perfect carving聽is a classic that聽contemporary cooks seem to聽have聽forgotten.

What makes carving difficult is the wishbone, and not just because everyone fights聽to pull it apart at the dinner table. It鈥檚 an engineering problem.聽The y-shaped bone, which runs along the top of a turkey鈥檚 chest, actually gets in the way of a clean cut anytime you try to slice聽breast meat from a bird. The result: ragged strips and crumbs, instead of steaming slices.

The key, as chef聽J. Kenji L贸pez-Alt explains in his new cookbook The Food Lab: Better Home Cooking Through Science, is removing the wishbone, and doing it聽before you roast. Bones聽are聽just聽easier, and less messy, to remove聽when聽cold. 鈥淚f you try to do it when it鈥檚 hot,鈥澛燣贸pez-Alt told Quartz, 鈥測ou鈥檒l have to wear heat proof gloves or something.鈥

Cooking greats like聽Julia Child and the authors of聽The Joy of Cooking聽concur, even if modern day cooking and carving instructions tend to聽forget this essential tip. Once the聽wishbone is gone, promises L贸pez-Alt, your freshly roasted turkey meat 鈥渁lmost comes out like you鈥檙e scooping ice cream.鈥

First, find the wishbone.

Next, make your first incision.

Then, repeat on all sides.

Finally, pry that sucker out.

If you want to play the wishbone game, feel free to throw it back in the turkey pan with the rest of the bird. Or, if you don鈥檛 believe in wishes and/or fun, use the bone and any meat or connective tissue that comes out with it to make a stock for your gravy. And, if you forget to take it out from the get-go,聽L贸pez-Alt says it鈥檚 not the end of the world. 鈥淵ou鈥檒l just have to do more fiddly knife work to cut around the breast.鈥

Check out the rest of聽L贸pez-Alt鈥檚 carving instructions here.

All images courtesy of聽The Food Lab: Better Home Cooking Through Science by J. Kenji L贸pez-Alt. Copyright 漏 2015, all rights reserved.