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There's not a more important ceremony over the holidays than the carving of the turkey. Some families find it to be such an important ritual that the oldest son traditionally carves the Thanksgiving, Christmas or Easter turkey. Many families invest quite a bit of money in turkey carvers, an impressive carving board, and buy the largest turkey they can find for each annual turkey carving. But if you don't know how to carve a turkey, the entire process is ruined. Here's a guide for the first-time turkey carvers, or for those who simply need to brush up on the finer points of carving a turkey.

• Many turkeys you buy at the store will come with directions on how to properly prepare them for the best taste. They may come with their own meat thermometer that will automatically pop out when the turkey is done cooking. The first step in carving a turkey is to make sure the turkey is well cooked and tender enough to properly cut. You don't want it to be overly tender or overly dry. A nice medium is ideal.
• Drumstick and Thigh. These two pieces of meat are the first you should remove. You pull the legs away from the body, and the joints holding them to the body of the turkey will snap off. You may also cut the legs of with a knife.
• Cutting dark meat. For best results with dark meat, you should cut the meat from the body by following the body contour with your knife.
• When you pull the leg and thigh away from the rest of the turkey, set it on a cutting board and cut the two pieces apart at their joints.
• Cut the rest of the turkey. The next thing you need to do is hold the rest of the turkey tightly. You can do this with a fork. You'll want to hold knife next to the wings parallel to the turkey and cut into the breast as tightly next to the ribs as possible. Move the breast meat to a cutting board
• Carving the breast. The proper way to carve the breast meat of a turkey is to carve downward. You should end at the base cut. The slices should be thin and even.