MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Everyone has their own Thanksgiving traditions, even when it comes to cutting the turkey.

But how do you maximize the meat without making a mess?

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“It’s really actually just following the bird,” Nate Luce, a chef at Kowalski’s Markets, said. “The bird itself actually shows you where to cut it.”

Luce uses two large, sharp knives. One is to cut through bones and the other is to carve the slices.

He also suggests that people transfer the turkey from the pan to a cutting board before attempting to carve. Alton Brown, host of “Good Eats,” even recommends putting a towel underneath the bird to prevent any slipping and sliding.

“I do let it rest,” Luce said. “For like at least 10 or 15 minutes, just so when you’re cutting it, you’re not going to have all those juices going out.”

He always starts with the leg and thigh by slowly cutting it apart from the rest of the bird. He pulls until he hears a pop and then cuts right through the cartilage.

From there, he sets aside the entire leg and thigh, eventually cutting the thigh from the leg. He then removes the thigh bone, leaving a chunk of thigh meat.

“I always like to angle it so you can get that, like, larger-looking piece,” he said.

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He recommends cutting against the grain to keep the slices better intact. Generally, he leaves the leg intact for better presentation.

“Because there’s always somebody who’s going to want to eat it (laughs)!” Luce said.

He next moves on to the breast. While some carvers recommend cutting away the entire breast from the bone before carving the meat, Luce keeps it intact.

He starts his knife near the wing and follows it around the breast up to the top of the breast bone. That loosens the breast from the bones and allows him easier access to carving. Again, he slices against the grain.

“And then you can get these really nice pieces and it falls off,” Luce said.

He finally snaps off the wings and repeats the same process on the other side of the bird. He pulls off any leftover meat and suggests using it to make turkey soup.

For the best presentation, he recommends placing the light meat separately from the dark, so people know what they are being served.

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Luce’s two biggest pieces of advice? Be confident, and don’t cut yourself.

Heather Brown