The tool: carving knife

Carving a turkey with Chef Josiah Citrine at Melisse.
(Wally Skalij / LAT)

You’ll find all kinds of things labeled as carving knives. Most of them are more for show than anything else. There are three things you should look for in a good carving knife. It should be long enough that you can comfortably slice in long, clean strokes without having to saw back and forth, which breaks up the meat. The minimum length is probably 8 inches — 9 or 10 is even better. It should be stiff enough that you can use the tip to pop out joints (if the knife’s flimsy, you’ll end up wrestling the turkey all over the cutting board to cut the leg free). Finally, it should be sharp; it’s worth taking your knife to a sharpener the week before for a touch-up. If you don’t have a carving knife — and it is a fairly specialized tool — you can also use an all-purpose knife that is long enough, or even a chef’s knife.