Once the roast chicken is done, let it sit for about 15 minutes before carving, loosely covered with aluminum foil to retain heat. During this resting period the internal juices drawn to the surface recirculate throughout the bird and the flesh firms up. If the chicken is carved too soon, these juices will pour out onto the board, and the meat will be dry rather than moist and will shred when cut instead of slicing neatly.
Transfer the chicken to a grooved carving board and remove any stuffing to a serving dish. To carve, follow the basic steps shown on these two pages. Despite the mystique that surrounds it, carving is simple once you know where to cut -- if you use the proper tools. A sharp carving knife and a large, two-pronged fork are critical. Select a knife with a long, flexible blade made of a material that will take and maintain a sharp edge. If the blade is dull, it will hack apart even the most beautifully prepared bird and ruin its appearance. A dull knife also is more likely to slip and cut you. Use the fork to hold the bird steady as you work.
Cutting Legs from Roast Chicken
Set the fork in the center of the chicken to keep it stable. Pull one leg away from the body and cut through the skin between the thigh and body with a sharp knife. Repeat on the other side.
Cutting Legs in Half
Place the leg, skin-side up, on the carving board. Cut through the joint between the drumstick and thigh to separate the leg into two pieces. Repeat with the other leg.
Removing Breast Meat
To remove a breast half in one whole piece, cut along one side of the breastbone and guide the knife down the rib bones, much as you would bone an uncooked breast (see our technique for skinning and boning chicken). Repeat with the second breast half.
Slicing Breast Meat
Once the breast halves are removed from the body, slice each into evenly thick pieces. If you cut across the grain of the meat, the slices will be more attractive.