As a British citizen, I always struggle to comprehend what Thanksgiving represents. Is it a prelude to Christmas? Or is it just an excuse to spend an exorbitant amount of money on unnecessary material objects? Whilst the meaning of Thanksgiving will forever be foreign to me, one thing I can relate to and understand is the traditional meal that accompanies the festivities.
You see, as a British citizen, I am familiar with the roast dinner. Which is essentially the same as a Thanksgiving dinner, except households around the country do some variation of it every Sunday. Roast lamb, roast beef, roast chicken, roast pork, us Brits are nothing if not traditional - and unnecessarily over-indulgent - at all times.
This means that I can understand many elements of a traditional Thanksgiving dinner. I know the importance of a table plan (if you want peace and quiet, you avoid sitting your dad next to your drunk aunt); I respect the importance of theme-appropriate table decorations (if your mom doesn't look desperately disappointed in you as you lay out floral napkins in the autumn, is she even your mom?) and most importantly, I know the symbolism of a well-carved piece of meat.
A slice of turkey cut as thin as a piece of wrapping paper is the only way to know you've made it on Thanksgiving. Any thicker than that and you may as well pack up the whole family to dine out at the nearest Subway, where you can get a succulent slice of just about any meat you can think of and save the embarrassment of serving meat slices that look like curtains the cat got hold of.
Carving the turkey is a big responsibility, and thus, it is often a task reserved for the head of the household. It's a display of dominance - the equivalent of a peacock (or y'know, a turkey) puffing out its feathers.
So, to save yourself from looking up at your elaborately decorated table and witnessing appalled faces all round, it is highly recommended that you get clued up on how to carve like a king.
This video ought to help...
If you need more specific instructions, then the following process is pretty fail safe...
1. Snip the string - Carefully cut the string that holds your bird's legs together.
2. Legs and thighs - Tug the drumstick and slice the skin that connects it to the breast, then cut down the joint.
3. Drumsticks - Slice the joint that connects drumstick and thighs and place on your serving plate.
4. Wishbone - Everybody (especially children) love the pulling of the wishbone. It's a rather grotesque tradition when you think about it, so it's best not to think about it as you forage for the pesky V-shaped bone in the bird's breast. You'll locate it in the area where the bird's head once was.
5. Breasts - Place your boning knife parallel to the breastbone and slice down. With your free hand separate the meat as it comes away from the bird. Then lace the breast on your serving plate.
6. De-winging - Slice through the wing joints with a carving knife and place them on your serving tray - or, just throw them away as wings don't really offer much by way of a Thanksgiving meal. Alternatively, you can feed the meat to your dog and allow them to indulge in your Thanksgiving celebrations too (pull the meat off the bone to avoid any vet trips interrupting your festivities).
7. Slice - Hold the thighs down and use the edge of your knife to do the slicing.
8. Back to breasts - Hold the breast down and maneuver it so that you cut across the shortest part. Then begin to routinely slice in an even manner, and before you know if you've carved your turkey!
Now it's time to raise a glass and sit back and relax. Happy Thanksgiving!