At first glance, cleaning the armored, prehistoric-looking loggerhead turtle appears to be an impossible task. But cleaning a turtle is quite quickly and easily done once one learns the ropes.
Besides a sharp knife, other tools are needed. A hatchet is essential, and a cane knife is handy.
1) With a hatchet or cane knife, cut the turtle’s head off immediately behind its skull so as not to waste any delectable neck meat.
2) Using a hatchet, cut through the isthmus, which connects the belly shell (plastron) with the back shell (carapace). Do this for each side.
3) Using a knife, cut the plastron’s edges loose from the skin.
4) Making small cuts, detach the plastron from the underlying muscle and discard it.
5) Use a knife to cut all parts of skin of the legs, neck and tail loose from the carapace.
6) Use a sharp knife to cut all points of attachment for the front legs and neck as a unit loose from the carapace. Repeat for the rear legs and tail as a unit.
7) A hatchet will be necessary to cut through the bones attaching the units to the carapace. Discard the carapace.
8) You will now have two units — the front legs and neck in one, and the rear legs and tail in the other.
9) Divide the front legs and neck into three pieces.
10) Cut a ring through the skin above each foot of the turtle.
11) Use a knife to carefully cut the skin loose from each leg. Repeat the last three steps for the rear leg and tail unit.
12) Trim and discard all fat from the meat. This is important, as turtle fat has a quite objectionable taste.
13) Turtle meat is attractive and tasty, and is always cooked bone-in.