Don’t sweat it. Learn how to gracefully and effortlessly carve in front of your guests

We’ve all been there… bought that special piece of meat for a special family meal. Spent hours in the kitchen. It’s a labour of love to make sure that roast is cooked to perfection – moist and mouth-wateringly tasty. A meal to remember.

But what about the carving?

The final hurdle to creating a magnificent meal.

It’s not to be sniffed at, there’s a true skill to carving. Lots of us – self included – bottle it and hand off the job to a willing (in my case) husband, father or a even guest!

The tools of the trade

• Carving knife. Sharp, that’s the key. Don’t have a carving knife? Grab a long sharp knife… that’s fine.

• Carving fork. A large carving fork will help to hold the joint steady while carving.

• Carving tray. This metal tray is not essential but it’s got spikes to steady the joint while carving and gullied edges to catch the juices. If you are carving a joint with no bone it is best to use a wooden or plastic board so as not to blunt the knife.

•  Knife sharpener. As I’ve said, keep your knife sharp, try and get into the habit of sharpening it before every use.

Resting, resting, resting

I’ve never read a recipe, an article or heard an interview with a chef where they don’t stress the importance of resting meat.

It’s really, really important.

Here’s why… resting gives time for the meat fibres to relax from the cooking process and the juices to be released and create a more tender piece of meat.

(Have you ever experienced that juice that runs all over your board? That’s because it wasn’t rested long enough)

So, when you take your meat out from the oven, place it somewhere warm e.g. the oven top, and loosely cover with foil or a tea towel for approx. 30 mins. (btw, if you’re cooking steak, 10 mins is fine)


1. Rest pork crackling side up so it stays crispy

2. Rest chicken breast side down so the juices flow back through the bird, keeping it moist

Carving techniques
  • Make sure your knives are sharp
  • Let the knife do all the work – don’t add too much pressure when carving
  • Use long even strokes
  • Uniformed pieces – make sure the end of the knife and the handle are in line – so you end up with nice even slices, not misshapen wedges
  • If carving a joint, try not to scrape the bone as it’ll blunt your knife
  • Apply light pressure with the folk, no need to push it all the way in


1. Beef – carve against the grain, through the fibres. This means you’re not making your guests chew hard but rather enjoy the tender meat you’ve laboured over

2. Pork – carve it with the crackling side down

3. Leg of lamb – cut along the bone in two places and then cut side long so each person gets two different textures across the cut

4. Chicken – remove the thigh and drumstick in one piece. Remove the wing on the same side and then slice the breast. Repeat on other side. Finally, divide the drumstick and thigh, cutting through the joint so you have two leg portions. (*I think I’ll do a post on this soon to show how I’ve tackled this)

I’d love your tips on how to carve successfully. Drop me a line or leave a comment…