The Main Kitchen

General Introduction


1. Carving is a skill that can be quickly learned. As with most skills proficiency improves with a widening knowledge of general catering, practice and experience.

2. Skilful carving is necessary if good economy is to be effected. Correct carving enables each portion to be presented attractively whilst ensuring the fullest yield can be obtained from any particular joint.

3. A knowledge of the bone structure of each joint is important. However, for practical reasons and to facilitate economy in carving it is recommended that most joints used in military kitchens should have the bones removed and be rolled and tied before cooking. In certain instances this may not be desirable and therefore instructions on carving of joints on the bone are also included.

4. The primary rule of carving, that meat should be cut across the grain should be put into practice. the exception is when a saddle is cut in the French style along the grain.

5. It is important to understand why meat is cut across the grain. meat is composed of fibrous muscular tissues, usually running the length of adjoining bones. Carving across the grain ensure that these fibres are cut into short lengths making each slice more tender and consequently aiding mastication and digestion.


6. The first essential, is good and proper tools to do the job. The knife used should be sharp and designed for the purpose.

7. In the main, the tools that will be required for carving are as follows:

a. The Carving Knife: is used for most joints.

b. The Butchers Steel: is required to keep a sharp edge on the knife.

c. The Ham Knife: with its long narrow flexible blade it is used for carving ham, tongue, turkey and sides of smoked salmon.

d. The Carving Fork: is used with the guard raised to hold the joint whilst carving.


8. This is the next step towards proficiency and once mastered, few difficulties remain. The knife must be held firmly and the cutting action should be light but definite. A saw like action should be used allowing the knife to roll slightly forwards and backwards. When carving slices of meat, the angle of the knife should not be changed once the first cut has been made, otherwise the slices will vary in thickness. A proper carving fork with a guard should be used; this is shaped to enable the carver to get a firm grip on the meat. A carving knife can easily slip on pieces of gristle or bone or the hard outside surface of a roasted joint, and the use of a carving form apart from its practical and hygienic aspects, may often be the means of preventing an injury.


9. As stated previously the most economical method of carving is achieved when the bones are removed from the joints and they are rolled and tied before cooking. However it is occasionally desirable that joints being carved in the presence of the customer should be left on the bone.

10. The following instructions offer some assistance:


a. Fore-rib

(1) The ribs which remain attached act as a carving board. Loosen the meat from the narrow ribs. Carve from the thick end of the joint, cutting thin slices with a light forward and backward movement of the knife. If the joint has been correctly prepared a thin slice of meat with an equal amount of fat and lean will result. This is the English style of carving. The American style is to cut a thicker slice, almost as thick as a steak allowing once slice per portion.

b. Sirloin:

(2) Loosen the meat from the bone and start to carve from the wing end cutting down to the bone. Remove the bone and carve the remaining meat.


a. Saddle of Lamb. There are 2 styles of carving a saddle of lamb the English and the French.

The English method is to cut down either side of the back bone and across the base of the chump and release the flesh from the ribs underneath. then slice across each loin into fairly thick slices.

The French method is to cut fairly thick even slices along the length of the saddle.

b. Leg of Lamb. Hold the knuckle end firmly with a cloth and turn the meatiest side of the joint uppermost. Take out 2 slices about 5mm thick from the centre of the leg, cutting to the bone. Continue cutting from both sides of the first cut, gradually angling the knife to obtain longer slices. Turn the joint over, remove any unwanted fat and carve horizontal slices together with a slice of the thick bottom of the leg.


a. Leg of Pork. Remove the outside shell of crackling, chop it into small pieces and serve it with the meat. To carve remove a triangular section next to the knuckle end. Carve a V formation along the bone, taking a slice first from once side., then from the other. continue with the knife held at an oblique angle and cutting along the bone. Cut long thin slices from either side until all the meat has been removed.

b. Loin of Pork. The crackling can be left on the joint. Alternatively it can be removed in sections from the joint to make carving easier. Cut the loin at a slight angle to enlarge the slices. Carve pork thicker than beef.

c. Head of Pork. Detach the rib bones from the underside and the crackling from the top. Carve downward slices from each side of the bone. Slice the crackling. The joint is fatty on one side, lean on the other. Carve from both sides until the bone is reached. Then turn the joint over and carve across the grain.


This is carved in the same way as a leg of pork.


a. Turkey. Cut the large drumsticks from either side of the body. Hold the knuckle end of the drumstick in one hand and slice the meat downwards following the direction of the bone. Rotate the drumstick and carve off all the meat. Next carve thin slices from the thigh bones. Cut off both wings and set them aside. Carve the white breast meat in long thin downward slices from either side of the breast bone and parallel to it.

b. Chicken. Allow the chicken to cool a little after removing it from the oven. Remove the legs and cut each leg in two through the joint. Trim off the knuckles at each end. Remove the winglets by cutting parallel to the breast bone but along the wing joint, cutting down through the joint. Trim off the knuckle to the wing bone. Remove the breast from the carcass and trim if necessary, then cut in two lengthways. Serve a drumstick with a wing and a thigh with a breast, thereby ensuring each customer receives a piece of white meat with a piece of dark meat.

c. Goose. Begin by carving the legs from the bird at the point where the thigh bones meet the body. Remove the wing joints from either side of the breast. If the goose has been stuffed from the neck end, first cut slices across the stuffing. Fairly thick slices are then taken from the breast bone along the whole length of the bird. to remove these slices, carve downwards with the knife blade held almost flat against the body of the bird.

d. Duck. First cut off the leg joints from either side of the body. Remove the wings on either side of the breast and detach the wishbone and meat from the neck end. Slice down through the centre of the breast meat. Holding the knife blade at an angle of 45 degrees to the breast, carve the meat in fairly thick, slightly wedge shaped slices. Make them parallel to the first cut along the breast bone.

e. Partridge. Young birds can be served whole or split in two through the centre of the breast.

f. Grouse. Split the bird in two through the centre of the breast and discard the bottom part of the carcass.

g. Guinea Fowl. Carve as for chicken.

h. Wild Duck. to carve, remove the legs which are tough and should not be served. The legs should be braised and used in a separate dish as salmis of game. Slice the breast very thinly.

i. Pheasant. Carve as for chicken.


a. Salmon. After the salmon is cooked and has been allowed to rest or get cold all the fins except the tail fine, are removed. An incision is made between the gills and around the flesh of the tail fin. The skin is then removed as is any excess of congealed blood. To carve; a full incision is made behind the gills down to the bone, further parallel cuts are made and the flesh removed down to the tail. The backbone is then lifted clear and any obvious bones removed from the flesh. The underside is then cut into portions and served without skin.

b. Smoked Salmon. Scotch smoked salmon has strips of fat between the meat and is considered the finest. Smoked Canadian, Norwegian and Pacific salmon are less expensive but drier. To prepare the side for carving, the fins are removed with a sharp knife or scissors. Then a very thin layer of the smoke dried fish is removed and as many bones as possible. Those sticking out of the flesh can be removed with a pair of clean pliers or forceps. Carving commences at the tail end of the fish using a ham knife, angling the blade so that the wafer thin slices are removed.