It's the way fowl and roasts are cooked which determines the success of the carving, a chef told a gathering of editors here when he gave tips on carving for the holidays.
''Turkey carving need not be a chore,'' said Hans Aeschbacher, of Lawry's The Prime Rib, Chicago, ''if you prepare and cook the bird properly and employ a few easy-to-learn carving skills.''
An overcooked bird can't be carved, he continued, and said that to test for doneness the turkey can be lifted up from under the wing with a meat fork. If the juices run clear, it's done.
A 15-pound turkey should be cooked 41/2 hours at 325 degrees F. This will serve 12 to 15 persons for a holiday. He recommends simply seasoning the turkey with butter, salt, pepper, and seasoned salt. He bastes them with pan juices during roasting.
The cooked turkey should sit for 15 minutes before it's presented and carved. He recommends bringing it to the table on a silver or porcelain platter, then carving it on a board or similar flat surface.
The carver needs plenty of room and the right tools, says Chef Hans. He uses a broad-blade plain or serrated knife, a six-inch boning knife, and a long meat fork, and he believes that the tools should be sharp.
The first step in carving is to remove the drumstick by cutting straight down between the thigh and body.
With a fork, he says, push the leg outward so you can find the joint connecting the thigh to the backbone.
''Don't ruin the carving knife cutting bones with it,'' he warns. ''Use the boning knife to cut the joint.''
The next step is to cut the breast meat using long, smooth strokes. ''Don't saw the meat - that only produces hacked up meat,'' said the master carver.
A long meat fork should be used to steady the bird when necessary and to transfer the slices to the serving platter. He recommends to continue slicing breast meat until the breast bone is reached.
A horizontal cut deep into the breast where the wing is attached helps to release slices at the base. The wings and stripped drum sticks are saved for the stockpot and turkey soup.
A boning knife divides the leg and thigh at the joint. Then the dark meat is cut from the drumstick, cutting next to the bone to avoid the tough leg tendons. Remove the dark meat from the thigh bone, still using the boning knife, then cut the dark meat from the leg and thigh across the grain for easy eating.
If the carving is done in the kitchen, or if the carver is slow, cover the sliced meat with a damp towel to keep it moist. Keep the meat on a warming tray or in the warm oven until serving time.