Time to carve the turkey: Here's the most important thing you'll need

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It's go time: don't screw this up

There's nothing worse after extracting your bird from a steamy hot oven, after hours of being tortured by that heavenly aroma, to then hack the poor thing into oblivion. While there is still a day before the big day, be sure you're prepared. There is one thing you need more than anything else to ensure a successful bird-to-table delivery.

As the chefy food personalities always say, we do eat with our eyes first. Please do not hack up that bird. Everybody wants a piece of that crispy skin, but it's not always easy to slice through the outer shell.  

The most important tool in your arsenal is a sharp knife. When was the last time you sharpened your chef's knife? If you can't remember, it's been too long. You have a few at-home sharpener options. Check your local kitchen store for a decent model, which should be available for under $50. For the past few years, when I can't get my knife to a professional, I use this Presto model with good results. Gird yourself: That sound is shiver-inducing, but worth it.

While the DIY approach works in a pinch, the best way to get that blade super sharp is to consult a professional. A chef friend told me he always took his kit to his local hardware store. Your knives come back sharp enough to almost emit an audible ring when unsheathed. Costs vary, but the service is usually around $5 to $10.

The problem there is, will they have them done in time? We're getting a little close to T-Day. Since you'll already likely be shopping for food this week, swing in to area Lund's and Byerly's.  Last year, desperate on time with a blade flat enough to squash an entire bird without so much as a scratch, I turned over my beloved Wustof to a kindly man behind the Lund's Highland Park meat counter, my name and phone number written in smeared black ink on a cardboard envelope. The next day I picked up my baby, bright and fresh and all for a grand total of zero dollars. Now that is some customer service.

However, if you're realizing that it's time to properly invest in your kitchen tools, there is no better shop than Eversharp in Northeast. A sharp knife is not just for one holiday; everyday cooking can be extraordinarily elevated with the proper tools. A knife with the right balance, weight, and blade will have you whizzing through that prep work with the greatest of ease.

For a refresher on how to break down the bird, here's a video that chef Scott Pampuch did for the Star Tribune a few years ago.  

Now, get out there and cook some food, people! Entire card tables full of family members are depending on you.

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