Having the right tool for the job makes cooking a whole lot easier. And if you’re slicing up a turkey at Christmas or Thanksgiving then you want to make sure you’re doing it right.
There is indeed a right way, that tool that you use to hold the meat in place when slicing. You need one, but what’s it called.
Let’s take a look…
The utensil used to hold meat while slicing is a carving fork. It’s a two pronged fork with very long and sharp prongs so they can penetrate deep into the meat and keep it steady. I’ve given my recommendation of the best carving fork for home cooks below.
What is a carving fork
A carving fork is specifically used to hold meat firmly in place whilst it is sliced with a knife It allows you to make much more precise cuts of the meat.
A carving fork consists of a handle, usually with two long prongs although some carving frocks will have three or four prongs. Each prong is angled and comes to a very sharp point at the end.
That constant angle and sharp point lets you penetrate deep into the meat. A carving fork can be used on pretty much any type of meat but is most commonly used for carving poultry such as a whole chicken or turkey.
The length of the fork allows you to steady the whole brid, keeping it in place whilst you slice of meat, usually with a carving knife, in your other hand.
Just in the same way, a carving fork can be used to steady any meat, such as a large leg of ham from which you may want to slice very precise and thin pieces.
Carving forks are a very specialized tool and are rarely used for any other function other than steading a piece of meat you wish to carve. However; like most specialized tools, they are very effective in letting you slice precise pieces of meat.
As a result, even if you are only likely to cook whole chicken, turkeys or hams a couple of times a year for special events, a carving fork is still a worthwhile tool to have, especially given that they are durable and therefore long lasting.
When you’re looking for a carving fork you’ll notice there are two main types, straight carving forks and curved carving forks. Let’s take a look at what the difference is next.
Straight vs curved carving fork
Carving forks come in different lengths and the one you choose will be dependent on the type of meat you want to hold with it, for large items like whole chickens and hams I would recommend the long two pronged forks but really it’s down to what you intend to use it for.
The other main difference is whether you want a straight or curved carving fork. The difference is slight and often people just like using the one they are used to, but each does have it’s own advantages.
Straight carving fork advantages:
- You know exactly where the prongs are piercing through, even when you can’t see them, which can help with more precise cuts.
- Straight forks are often used in BBQ cooking, the straight prongs can easily pierce the meat and be positioned to slide in between the grill more easily than a curved fork.
Curved carving fork advantages:
- You can position the fork so it curves away from the side of the meat that’s being sliced. That means you’re less likely to hit the fork when slicing.
- You can use the concave side of the fork makes a useful tool for serving the meat once cooked.
- If you don’t want to penetrate the meat, you can still use a curved fork to press down on the top of the meat. The curvature will help hold the meat in place and not piecing the meat will help retain moisture.
My personal preference is a curved carving fork. I like the fact that you can use it to serve the meat once it’s carved as it essentially acts as a scoop.
But there is no real right or wrong answer when it comes to curved or straight carving forks, it’s all down to personal preference and most good kitchenware brands manufacture both types.
My carving fork recommendation
When it comes to quality kitchen utensils, Wüsthof are pretty hard to beat.
They feature heavily in my recommendations throughout this site and I think they are ideal for carving equipment too.
This 8 inch curved carving fork is plenty long enough to secure even the biggest of turkeys and the curved prongs allow you to use the fork itself to serve up the meat once carved.
Being a Wüsthof product you know that only high quality and durbal;e materials have been used. The fork is made from high carbon, stainless steel so there’s very little chance it will ever get damaged or rust.
It’s a top of the line carving for and I would highly recommend it.
The best knife for slicing meat
If you’re getting serious about carving meat then you’ll need a carving knife.
Just like the carving fork it’s a specialized tool for this exact job. It’s long, thin, has a relatively straight and super sharp edge.
With a carving fork and knife combo you’ll be able to slice very precise and thin cuts of meat with ease. None of that hacking away and thick, uneven chucks which comes from using the wrong tools.
My carving knife recommendation
If you need a carving knife too I would also recommend you stick with Wüsthof.
This 9 inch carving knife is superb. It’s extremely sharp but also very durable.
Durability of carving knives can often be particularly important as they will often come into contact with bones and other hard sections within the meat.
My carving knife and fork set recommendation
Finally, if you’re looking for both a carving fork and knife then you can get great value with this Wüsthof set.
It’s a straight fork, not a curved one, but for the price that you can get both a top quality Wüsthof carving knife and fork I think it’s an absolute steal.
There aren’t many sets of comparable quality on the market for this kind of price range.