Turkey Tips From Gena Knox
We interviewed Georgia gal Gena Knox for our Southern characters section (read the full article here) and ended up talking turkey, just in time for Thanksgiving. Gena offers Turkey Perfect Brining Kits through her company Fire & Flavor. She knew that during the cooking process, meat can lose up to 30 percent of its water, but a properly brined and cooked turkey will reduce that loss by half. So, Fire & Flavor’s Brining mixes include salt and spices that help to trap moisture in the turkey, a process Gena says is “one of the best ways to cook a turkey.” After brining, the turkey can be roasted, smoked, grilled or even fried.
Fire & Flavor’s brine mixes, also available at Whole Foods and Bed, Bath and Beyond, come in apple sage, herb, ancho chile and herbs de provence flavors and include a large brine bag. This Thanksgiving, we plan on brining our turkey in the herb flavor before dropping it into a fryer, a turkey cooking method that’s popular in South Louisiana. Since this will be our first time brining, we’ll be using the Fire & Flavor website and its section with turkey perfect instructions, a video by Gena and tips and FAQs for ensuring you get that perfect turkey to the table. Below are a few tips and the video to get you started.
When choosing a turkey, Gena recommends fresh over frozen. If you don’t see one a fresh turkey at your grocery store, ask the meat department. They may be able to order one and you can pick it up the next day.
Brining is the second step in preparing your turkey. You’ll need Fire & Flavor’s mix and bag, one 10-25 pound turkey, water, sugar and apple cider vinegar or white vinegar.
Trussing is the art of tying the legs and wings of a turkey with string for presentation. Gena recommends using 100 percent cotton string to tie the legs together or tucking the ankles into the pocket of skin at the tail end. Wings can be tucked behind the bird.
Now it’s time to cook the turkey. Preheat your oven to 325 degrees. Drain the brine water out of the cavity of the turkey when you pull it out of the bag. Place it breast side up in a shallow roasting pan (or proceed to other cooking method), and rub or spray canola oil on the skin to promote even browning. Place it in the oven and cook until a meat thermometer inserted in the thickest part of the breast reads 165 degrees F and the innermost part of the thigh 180 degrees. (Cooking time varies from 3-5 hours depending on turkey size.) Let the turkey rest for 30 minutes before serving.