On Boxing Day, a cold turkey and stuffing sandwich spread thickly with applesauce is something to be relished. However, when the leftovers just keep coming and dried up turkey becomes a feature in every meal you eat for a week, maybe it’s time to consider an alternative holiday bird.

As a butcher, a large percentage of my job is guiding people into choosing the right piece of meat for their needs. I factor in the number of people being served, the amount of time they want to spend in the kitchen, and their carving ability.

It’s funny — all the normal rules seem to go out the window when it comes to Christmas though. While turkey can be delicious, it’s one of the most difficult birds to store, prepare and cook. The average turkey weighs 14 pounds, of which more than three pounds are bones. One person will typically consume only one pound of turkey as part of their Christmas meal. So why do we cook enough turkey to feed a small army?

Christmas is perfect for overindulgence. And a table groaning with delicious food is, of course, the very definition of a feast. I am not suggesting you forgo the feast this Christmas, but rather modify your choice of bird to suit the actual number of guests you’re feeding.

Turkey: 6 +

Goose: 4-6

Chicken: 4

Duck: 2-4

Cornish Hen: 1

When cooking birds, you generally will be roasting meat on the full carcass. Don’t worry — this is not something to be afraid of if you follow a few simple rules:

  1. Always remember to use a sharp knife and work on a large chopping board
  2. Have a serving plate close by so you can transfer the meat away from the area where you are cutting
  3. If you are a little nervous about this process… carve in the comfort of your own kitchen and not at the table — nobody needs the extra pressure of hungry eyes watching you attack the bird!

Avoid a kitchen massacre with the following tips… 

Carving The Legs:

Cut through the skin that attaches the leg to the body. Ease the thigh outwards and cut through the joint to remove the leg and thigh

Cut through the drumstick and thigh at the joint — give it a little wiggle and you will see the joint

Leave the drumsticks and thighs whole, or carve into slices. The easiest way is to hold a piece up and carve around the bones

Carving The Breast:

Cut as close to the breast bone as you can, starting on the top of the bird. Carve out the whole breast, pulling it away as you cut

Cut into thick slices diagonally along the whole breast.

A little out of the ordinary, but quite easy to cook, is goose. For you carvers out there, you’ve probably had a go at cooking a turkey or chicken. Why not try something different this year?

Click here for a great recipe for mouth-watering Roast Goose with Cranberry, Maple and Pecan Stuffing!

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