Ahead of the Carve

Tips on butchering for the harvest season

By The Editors
November 4, 2015 9:00 am

In addition to serving up some of the city’s choicest cuts, the craft butchers at Fleishers have a very particular set of skills.

Skills they have acquired over a very long career. Skills that make them a nightmare for turkeys like the one you’ll be carving later this month.

It is this humble editor’s opinion that that skill set should belong to you as well.

Run by a band of restaurant and butchery veterans, Fleishers specializes in healthful, ethically raised cuts. We tapped partner Christophe Hille for some knife-handling tips to get you prepped.

On which knives you really need…

“People aim too big for knives. A good quality eight-inch Japanese blade can pretty much do everything. It’s not cutting through bone, but it can carve a bird. I’m also a strong believer in a squared-off Japanese vegetable knife. And, finally, you need a good bread knife. If you go into any restaurant kitchen you’re going to find a prep person cutting through just about everything with a good bread knife.”

On sharpening those knives…

“The best friend for a home cook is a diamond sharpening steel. They’re hard enough to sharpen anything and much easier than stones.”

On carving a turkey…

“When it comes to the carving there are a few things to consider. One, practice on the smaller guys. Get a bunch of chickens (they have the same build) and get familiar with what you’re doing. The most common mistake people make when carving is trying to handle the whole bird in front of everyone. Do your prep work ahead of time. Take off the legs, the breast, separate out the light and dark. It’ll make the process much simpler.”

On playing it safe…

“Slipperiness is the issue. For starters, cutting is an involved two-hand operation. One hand needs to be holding the meat — or holding a fork steadying the meat — while the other carves. And, secondly, if you walk into any commercial kitchen, the pros will have their cutting boards on a wet towel so it doesn’t shift about. People tend to be too modest with their cutting board choices. Invest in a larger one.”

If you feel like further sharpening your skill set, Fleishers offers an array of meat-centric classes, including an upcoming special Thanksgiving knife skills course. For a sneak peek at what you’ll be getting your hands into, check out this video.

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