A Hampton man’s DVD will show you how to deep fry a turkey for Thanksgiving.

A Hampton man’s DVD will show you how to deep fry a turkey for Thanksgiving.

November 19, 2008

Frying a turkey for Thanksgiving is a Southern tradition that produces a moist and flavorful bird.

But first-timers may approach this method with more than a little trepidation.

Anthony Hester is here to help. The Hampton cook has launched a Web site, “Cooking with Uncle Tony,” that sells instructional DVDs on preparing foods and cooking methods. “How to fry a turkey” is one of his first productions.

“People who live in apartments may not have been exposed to deep-frying, and for a lot of people, it might be their first time fixing a turkey,” says Hester. “So this DVD gives them simple instructions.”

One of Hester’s mottoes is, “give your guests nothing but the best.”

His DVD contains the materials you need for frying, a list of ingredients for making a spicy marinade, step-by-step instructions for frying the turkey, and a number of tips for doing it safely.

All are presented against an attractive outdoor setting in Hester’s riverfront backyard.

“I love cooking, and with technology changing so much, my aim is to take things back to the basics and keep it simple,” he says.

A native of Henrico County, Hester grew up in a community that prized its backyard grilling.

“My parents did a lot of grilling, and I remember that certain neighborhoods only grilled certain things,” he says. “At a family reunion, I saw a fish fry and got excited by that. They used a cast iron pan on a metal grill over a wood fire.”

Hester learned about different cooking techniques while stationed in the Air Force.

Several years ago, he was reading an inspirational book that urged him to “find something you enjoy doing and do it. So I figured a cooking DVD was ideal for me.”

A portion of Hester’s Air Force career was spent at Langley, and after separating from the service three years ago, he returned to live in the area. Since then he’s kept busy registering his company trademark, building a Web site and learning to operate his video equipment.

“Right now I’m at the stage where I’m trying to get the word out,” he says.

In addition to the fried turkey DVD, “Cooking with Uncle Tony” offers a DVD on preparing stuffed jalapeno peppers with a smoker.

Future DVDs may include using smokers, cleaning fish, picking crabs and other outdoor cooking activities. Like cookbook authors, who recommend reading the entire recipe before starting to cook, Hester suggests watching his entire video before beginning. The fried turkey DVD demonstrates how to determine the right amount of oil for the size bird you choose. Viewers should also be aware that the once the marinade is applied, the turkey sits in the refrigerator overnight to allow the flavors to deepen before frying.

For his demonstration, Hester uses an 18-pound turkey and three gallons of peanut oil, chosen for its ability to reach a high heat without smoking. He suggests where to place the fryer and how to keep the hot oil from slopping over and starting a fire. His instructional style is entertaining and informative. Viewers can follow along as he “scrubs” the turkey with lemon, applies the marinade, and the next day, prepares the fryer and lowers the bird inside. Immersed in the hot oil, a turkey takes only 3-4 minutes per pound to cook.

“The smells that are coming from this now are totally awesome,” he tells the camera. “I can’t wait for you to try it yourself.”

Hester hoists the bird out of the fryer and allows it to rest before carving it. Covered in a crisp skin, the slices are moist and tender. His cooking method not only produces a delicious main event for the Thanksgiving table, but offers a recreational activity that brings people together.

“We need to take time out to communicate with family, friends and neighbors,” he says. “Why not invite them over and fry up a turkey?”