How to Carve your Christmas Bird

Sophie's Tips

How to Carve your Christmas Bird

So, your Packington Free Range Christmas Bird is cooked, the table setting looks breathtaking, and your gravy is expertly seasoned and bubbling away. All that’s left is to carve the bird. Does anyone else start procrastinating at this stage? Take the stress out of Christmas carving with Sophie Allport’s How-To Guide.

How to Carve your Christmas Bird

Rest, rest and rest some more

One of the key elements to successful carving is a well-rested bird. Ask the experts and they’ll say your bird should rest for anything between 15 minutes to the full cooking time. A good half hour is plenty to allow those lovely juices to absorb back into the meat and enable the fibres to relax after cooking.

Removing the legs and wings

Place your bird on a chopping board with the legs facing towards you. Remove the string and push a carving fork into the breast meat towards the centre of the bird to keep it steady. Now, use a carving knife to cut through the skin between the breast and leg. Gently ease the leg away from the breast meat and use the knife to cut through the joint at the base of the bird. Remove the leg to a side plate. At this point, if you wish, you can separate the leg into two portions. To do this, locate the joint between the drumstick and thigh and push down with your knife to separate. Repeat on the other side.

Follow the same method to remove the wings. Simply pinch the wing between your fingers, pull it away from the breast meat and use a knife to break the joint.

How to Carve your Christmas Bird

Carving the breast meat

To carve your beautiful breast meat, begin carving on an angle close to where you removed the wing. Cut through the skin and meat to the base of the bird, removing each slice to a side plate as you go. Take care as you near the breast bone and angle the knife to gently remove the meat from the carcass.

Depending on how many you’re feeding, you may wish to just remove the legs, wings and one side of the breast meat. The remaining breast can be removed in one piece, wrapped and kept in the fridge for leftovers or sandwiches! To remove the breast whole, run the tip of your knife down the breast bone. Taking your time, using small movements with the knife, carefully continue to cut the breast meat away from the breastbone, supporting the meat with your other hand as you go.

How to Carve your Christmas Bird

Time to take stock

You’ll now be left with the carcass and a few scraps of remaining meat, including the oysters, a coveted treat on the underside of the bird where the wings join the main body of the bird. Remove these, and other remaining pieces of meat and reserve for leftover recipes.

The bones of your Packington Free Range Cockerel or Turkey are packed with nutrients. So, don’t throw the carcass away just yet! We’d recommend cooking up a delicious homemade stock which you can use to form the basis of another meal.

How to Carve your Christmas Bird

In a large pan, place your carcass, plus any bones from the legs etc and cover them with cold water. Add a couple of sticks of celery, a carrot, an onion (halved, with the skin on) a handful of peppercorns, some bay leaves, a handful of fresh herbs such as rosemary, thyme, parsley, tarragon etc, a pinch of salt and a whole lemon. Cook on a low heat for up to 8 hours. Store your stock in the fridge for use in soups, pies or other delicious recipes. Our favourite is this comforting Packington Christmas Puff Pastry Pie, which makes the most of all those festive leftovers.

How to Carve your Christmas Bird

We'd love to hear all about your festive Christmas dinner? Do you have any top tips or family traditions? Let us know in the comments below! 

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