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GOLDEN VALLEY, Minn. - How do you cook the perfect turkey? Julie Nelson, Belinda Jensen and Dave Schwartz took the debate to the kitchen.

Each cooked their own turkey, with a different recipe and celebrity chef Andrew Zimmern judged the winnerin the kitchens of Cooks of Crocus Hill.

Julie's recipe: (allrecipes.com)

1 gallon vegetable broth

1 cup sea salt

1 tablespoon crushed dried rosemary

1 tablespoon dried sage

1 tablespoon dried thyme

1 tablespoon dried savory

1 gallon ice water

In a large stock pot, combine the vegetable broth, sea salt, rosemary, sage, thyme and savory. Bring to a boil, stir frequently to be sure salt is dissolved. Remove from heat, and let cool to room temperature.

When the broth mixture is cool, pour it into a clean five gallon bucket. Stir in the ice water.

Wash and dry your turkey. Place the turkey, breast down, into the brine. Make sure the cavity gets filled. Place the bucket in the refrigerator overnight.

Remove the turkey carefully, draining off the excess brine and pat dry. Discard excess brine.

Cook the turkey as desired. Keep in mind, brined turkeys cook 20 to 30 minutes faster, so watch the temperature gauge.

Belinda's recipe (Cooks of Crocus Hill)

To butterfly the bird: The goal here is to remove the backbone and crack the breastbones so the bird will lie flat.

Using a sharp pair of kitchen shears or cleaver remove the backbone of the bird. This is done by cutting the skin and bones on both sides of the spine. Cut in between the thighbone. Discard the spine.

Lay turkey flat, skin side up; press down on breastbone, until turkey lies flat, on its own.

Flip legs so ankles touch each other. Skewer or tie the legs together, so the bird will maintain its shape. Secure wings, by twisting the wings, at the third joint, back across the breast.

This technique is wonderful for cooking on the grill or roasting in the oven. For an added oomph of turkey flavor, fill a roasting pan with your favorite stuffing and roast the bird, per your recipe's instruction, on top of the pan.

It also helps to reduce the amount of time it takes to cook the bird. More important, it makes the whole process a little easier to manage.

Please follow cooking directions on your recipe and be sure to cook to 165 -170 degrees in the meatiest point of the thigh.

Depending upon a variety factors, including efficiency of your oven or grill, this technique can result in your bird being cooked in 20 - 40 percent less time than roasting. Watch your bird closely.

Dave's Recipe:

1 turkey (completely thawed)

Kosher Salt

Pepper

Dry Sage

Peanut Oil

Thaw the turkey completely. Separate the skin from the bird with your finger. Rub salt and pepper outside the skin of the bird. Heat peanut oil to 400 degrees. (Might be more or less, depending on your fryer).

Fry turkey for three minutes per pound, plus add five minutes to the total time. (Example: 12 lb. bird x 3 min = 36 min + 5 min = 31 min of total cooking time)

Let the turkey rest for five minutes - then carve!

More Turkey Tips from Cooks of Crocus Hill

Frozen Birds

  • Defrost in refrigerator 72 - 48 hours in advance. Size is the big determining factor. The bigger the bird, the more the time.

  • Night before - Wash, trim and leave overnight, under loose foil, in refrigerator

  • 1 hour before baking set on counter to bring up temp before baking

Fresh Bird

  • Night before - Wash, trim and leave overnight, under loose foil, in refrigerator

  • 1 hour before baking set on counter to bring up temp before baking

Brining your Bird

Very good option for Free range or heritage birds. It's a must if you plan to grill your bird.

  • Mix brine according to instructions. Make sure your vessel is large enough to completely submerge your bird.

  • 12 - 24 hours in the brine

  • Night before - Wash, trim and leave overnight, under loose foil, in refrigerator

  • 1 hour before baking set on counter to bring up temp before baking

Quick reminders

Roast at 350 degrees F

15 minutes per pound as a planning guideline. Heritage and free range cook faster.

Cook until deepest part of thigh registers 165 degrees and juices run clear.

If the breast is turning too brown, cover with foil, check oven temp.

Baste with butter every 30 minutes.

The instant read thermometer is your friend. When in doubt, check the temp.

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