Turkey cuts such as wings, legs, and breasts can be purchased at most food stores already cut and packaged. It can be more economical to purchase a whole turkey and cut it up at home. A utility grade turkey is a good option when selecting a turkey to cut up, ensure that you select one that is not pre-stuffed or has a pop-up timer built in.
The turkey should be well chilled or even not quite fully thawed, which will allow it to be cut up more easily because the tissue will still be somewhat stiff. A very sharp knife, preferably a 6” (15 cm) boning knife, is essential and heavy-duty kitchen shears are helpful to ensure proper results. These tools should be very carefully handled and used cautiously to avoid injury.
Before you begin, remove the plastic leg clamp if there is one. Remove the giblets and neck, which are usually found in the body cavity, in a little package. Use these along with other discarded parts (see below) to boil for soups and stock if desired.
Lay the turkey on its back. Pull wing away from the body and pierce the skin with your knife. Keep pulling and cut through the joint while continuing to pull to release the wing from the body. Repeat on other side.If desired, the wing can be cut into 3 sections: the drummette which is the upper portion (cut through the elbow joint); the middle section and the wing tip (these can be separated at their joint or used as one piece). If the wing tip is removed, it doesn’t provide much meat but can be used for soup or stock.
The breast can be removed as a whole or in halves. In order to remove the breast from the body cavity, cut along the rib cage from the tail end to the neck on both sides of the bird. Place the breast side down and cut along the breastbone through the bone and the meat, which will split the breast into two halves.
To remove the bones, cut along the edges of both the breastbone and wishbone, and then using swiping strokes, cut away the ribs.
After removing the wings, legs, and breast, the remaining portion of the turkey carcass is the back. There is some meat and skin that can be removed and used in soups, stews and casseroles. The remaining bones and meat from the back can be used for stock.