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Knife Skills: How to Bone and Trim a Turkey Breast

Fine Cooking Issue 81
Photos: Scott Phillips
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To make Tom Douglas’s scrumptious Dried Apricot & Date Stuffed Turkey Breast, you’ll need a boneless turkey breast half. In the supermarket, you might see more than one turkey breast option. Some markets carry skinless, boneless turkey breast halves—these will work fine for this recipe and require no extra prep work. You’ll probably also see bone-in, skinon turkey breasts (whole or split), which you can ask the butcher to bone, or you can do it yourself, as shown below. This technique, similar to boning a chicken breast, is simple to master, and we think the extra effort is worth it because we got slightly moister and tastier results with a skin-on breast.

If you buy a whole breast, as shown here, you’ll end up with two turkey breast halves, so you can freeze one for later.

1. Beginning at the tail end of the turkey, make an incision along one side of the breast bone with a sharp boning knife. Feel your way along the breast bone with the tip of the knife, cutting your way toward the neck end of the bird.
2. As you near the neck end, you’ll hit the top of the wish bone, which will angle your knife outward. Follow the wishbone, cutting to the end of the bone.

3. Return to the breast bone and begin cutting the breast meat away from the rib cage in one large piece, following the contours of the carcass and cutting with short, swiping strokes of the knife tip. As you progress, use your free hand to gently pull the meat from the carcass to help you see where to cut. Repeat with the other side.
4. To trim the breasts, cut off any excess skin, membrane, or fat. Leave the tenderloin attached, but if you see a white tendon protruding from its end, trim the tendon off.


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