How to Carve Correctly

The secrets to serving the perfect slices of meat by carving properly.

The Perfect Slices of Meat

There is nothing better than a succulent roast, surrounded by an assortment of crisp golden potatoes, masses of vegetables, and a wide variety of sauces, gravies and other accompaniments. Particularly special when presented at the table, ready to carve, the joint selected becomes the focal point of this sumptuous feast. After several hours of creating the perfect meal, the chef proudly presents the meat on a platter, and then secretly crosses their fingers, hoping someone else will volunteer to carve it.

Sound familiar? You probably won't be surprised to discover that a large number of people admit to not knowing how to carve the perfect slice of meat. However, by following a few simple guidelines, you'll be able to carve like a head chef in minutes.

The secret to perfect carving lies not in the slicing of the meat, but in the preparation beforehand. Firstly, invest in a high quality, razor sharp carving knife, and a long pronged carving fork. Never carve using a serrated blade, as this can drag against the grain of the meat, making the cut look untidy. It is impossible to stress how important this is to the success of your presentation. Secondly, particularly with large joints, make sure you remove the joint from the oven and allow it to rest, this allows the meat to finish cooking, improves the flavour and makes it easier to carve. Most joints and poultry require between 10 and 20 minutes after they have been removed from the oven, to be served at their very best.

Boneless Joints

The easiest meats to carve are the boneless joints, such as pork tenderloin, boned and rolled shoulder or leg of lamb, brisket of beef or a turkey crown. After allowing them to rest, use the carving fork to maintain a good grip on the meat, and then cut straight down, across the grain, in 1/4-1/2 inch slices. If you require thinner slices, cut diagonally across the grain to give your meat a larger surface area.

Rib of Beef

Rib of beef is one of the most eye-catching of all the joints. Begin by cutting a large slice from the underside of the meat, to allow it to sit flat on the carving surface. Take the carving fork, and insert below the first rib, to allow you to gain a proper hold of the joint. Then slice in a smooth motion, towards the bone, in 1/2 inch slices. To serve, insert the carving knife beneath the slice, and transfer to the plate with the help of the carving fork.

Bone-in Leg of Lamb

Like rib of beef, it is best to cut away two or three slices from the underside of the lamb before presenting at the table. This allows you to place the lamb on a flat surface, making it easier to carve. Make sure you have a firm hold of the meat with the carving fork, and then, starting at the shank bone, cut 1/4-1/2 inch slices down to the bone, all the way along the joint. Once you reach the end, take the carving knife and cut back along the bone, underneath the cuts you have already made, to release the slices.


The same method applies whether you have chicken, duck, turkey or even goose. Firstly, insert the carving fork into the top of the bird, and separate the leg from the body, then remove the wing from the same side. When it comes to the breast, it is best to use a knife which is slightly longer than the breast itself, allow an inch or two either side for the perfect cut. Slice the breast at a slight angle in 1/4-1/2 inch slices in a downward motion until all of the meat has been removed, then turn the bird and repeat the same process on the other side. Finally separate the thigh from the drumstick to create two leg portions, and serve.

Great Food

Learning to carve correctly will ensure that your meal will look as good on the plate, as the meat did when it arrived at the table. It is a skill you will be glad that you have learned, and mean you never need to cross your fingers again when presenting a stunning roast.

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