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Carving: beef, lamb, pork and poultry


1st Jan 2015 Recipes

Carving: beef, lamb, pork and poultry
From carving a chicken to a shoulder of lamb—we've got a number of help tips and steps to follow to carve the pefect slice.


Legs of lamb, pork, veal and venison should all be carved in the same manner.
  1. Put the leg meaty side up and cut a shallow ‘V’ from the middle. Carve slices downwards from both sides of the ‘V’, then turn the leg over and slice the rest of the meat horizontally.
  2. Legs can also be cut in diagonal slices starting from the knuckle end. While this is most common with hams, the technique is an alternative you can try with all legs of meat.

Carving a large rib of beef

Cooking a rib of beef on the bone helps to conduct heat to the centre of a joint and gives a rich flavour. You can remove all the meat from the bone in one chunk and then carve it, but this rather spoils the effect. Try this way instead.
  1. Place the rib of beef on its side and start by making a 5cm (2in) deep cut along the ribs. Be sure to go the full length of the ribs with your cutting.
  2. Stand the meat up, rib side down. Carve several slices, lift these off and place them on a warm dish.
  3. Turn the rib back on its side and make a second 5cm (2in) cut. Stand the joint up and carve more.

Carving Loins

Loins and best end of lamb, pork, veal and venison are roasted on the bone to prevent shrinkage and preserve the flavour. But when you are ready to carve, it is easier to remove the meat from the rib cage and then slice it to the desired thickness. Pork is shown below.
  1. Cut down between the chine bone and the meat and then angle the knife between the meat and the ribs, cutting the meat free of the bones. Remove the cracking from the joint in one piece.
  2. The meat can now be sliced, and the crackling can be cut with scissors into the same number of pieces as there are slices of meat.

Carving poultry

A chicken, duck, goose and small turkey are all carved in the same manner. As it can be quite tricky to carve slices from the breast of a small bird, it is sometimes easier to remove the breast in one piece.
  1. Lay the bird on its side and cut under the thigh, lifting the whole leg up with a fork. To halve the leg and make two portions, cut through the joint at the top of the drumstick.
  2. Cut down the breast, halfway across and through the shoulder, then cut all around to remove the shoulder, wing and long strip of breast all in one piece. Lift this piece with the fork, holding the body down with the knife, and cut away.
  3. If the chicken is only a small one, simply cut away the remaining breast in one piece. Alternatively, if the chicken is large enough, you can carve the breast into slices by starting at the wing end. Work your way systematically towards the back.

Carving Turkey

A small turkey can be carved like a chicken—but one that weights more than 4.5kg (10lb) is not easy to move from side to side. For a bigger turkey, it can be much better to put it on a board and carve it while it is firmly placed.
  1. Remove the trusting string then cut between the body and the thigh all around. When these cuts are made, cut through the connecting sinews.
  2. Pull the leg away from the body and you can then carve the flesh into very small slices that are slanted parallel to the bone.
  3. Cut down through the shoulder joint, removing a small piece of breast meat attached to the shoulder and wing. Turn the bird and cut away the shoulder and wing on the other side in the same manner. This now clears the way for slicing the breast.
  4. A turkey breast is large enough to carve into thin slices on the one. Turn the fork over so that the prongs do not puncture the meat and stay out of the way of the knife. Alternatively, you can remove the whole breast, lay it flat and carve it across the grain.

Shoulder of lamb

A should can be quite tricky to carve because of the arched bone that runs through it. The secret is to carve it with the bone away from you, so you can get at the meat.
  1. Put the shoulder skin side up and cut a long slice from the centre, on the side opposite the bone.
  2. Carve out more thick slices on either side, then horizontal slices from the top over the central bone.
  3. Turn the joint over and carve horizontally.

Saddle of lamb

You can carve saddle of lamb by removing the loins from either side of the backbone and cutting across the grain. Alternatively, carve it on the bone as shown here.
  1. The chump end of the saddle should be carved into thin slices across the grain of the meat, and at right angles to the backbone.
  2. The main part of the saddle, lying each side of the backbone, is cut into thin strips or narrow slices down its full length.