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How to Fry a Turkey
November 15, 2009 at 8:43 pm #85527
Turkey frying has become popular. I’ve been doing it for 8 years. The meat is extremely moist (but not greasy), the skin is crispy (like fried chicken), there is no basting, and the turkey cooks quickly (3-3.5 minutes per pound- A 16 lb turkey in under an hour!). Once you go oil, you’ll stay loyal. I
This is merely friendly advice. Turkey frying can be risky. I am not responsible for injuries or skin graphs, structure fires, salmonella, singed pets, or any other unfortunate result.
History of frying turkeys
Turkeys were fried for the very first Thanksgiving held by the Pilgrims at Plymouth Rock in 1621. Their Naitve American friend Squanto, from the Propane Indian Tribe, showed the Pilgrims how to do it.
Where I started
I was in the Army and stationed in Louisiana for 6 years. I first tried fried turkey when I won one in a raffle, and I was hooked. Turkey frying is very popular in Louisiana. They would not let me move out of the state until I passed the turkey fry test.
Danger Will Robinson
1. Turkey frying is an outdoor activity. Find a safe place in the middle of your backyard to do it. Do not do it on your porch or deck, and burn down your double wide. Do not do it in your garage or barn. Bubbling oil splashes everywhere, you really do not want to be next to any kind of structure.
2. Do not use a frozen or partially frozen bird. The hot oil will react with fierce resistance.
3. Your bird needs to be empty. Remove the neck and guts. Do not add stuffing.
4. Maintain a cooking oil temperature of 325-350 degrees. The oil must completely cover the bird.
5. Wear gloves and long sleeves. The oil will bubble up when you first lower the bird in. Lower it very slowly. If it is bubbling too much, you can raise it a little way out of the oil, and then re-dip it.
6. Keep children and pets away. Your dog will be attracted to the smell.
7. Do not leave the boiling oil unattended
8. Make sure the oil has completely cooled before pouring it back into the container
9. Do not be drink and fry. You need to be completely sober.
What you MUST have
1. A turkey frying kit (I think they go for about $50-$75) that includes
– A stand with burner and propane gas hose
-A large pot with a lid
-A skewer or perforated basket with hook to lower the turkey into the oil.
-A thermometer for the oil
2. Peanut Oil. You must use peanut oil. It is expensive, but it has one of the highest smoke points for cooking oil. I made the mistake one year of buying “frying oil with peanut oil,” and had a very dark bird. You need about 4-5 gallons.
3. A propane tank like the one on your barbecue grill
4. Gloves and a long sleeve shirt
5. A completely thawed turkey
6. Paper towel to pat dry your turkey. A wet bird does not mix well with hot oil.
7. A timer. 3-3.5 minutes per pound.
8. A turkey. I prefer medium sized birds from 14-16 pounds
Handy things to have/tips
1. If the lid of the cooking pot does not have a hole in it to insert the oil thermometer, make a hole with a nail.
2. If your oil thermometer has a glass window, water will condense inside of it, and the outside of the glass will become dirty. Etch a mark on your thermometer at the 350 degree mark so you can read it when the glass becomes too dirty.
3. A spare propane tank. If you run out of propane, you can’t finish cooking it in the oven.
4. A meat thermometer to test the meat after cooking. Most sources say it has to be 180 degrees, but I believe the new wisdom states it can be as low as 165 degrees
5. Cardboard to place underneath and around the cooker. This prevents a large oil slick on your grass.
6. An injector and marinade to flavor the meat. This is optional. The meat will be flavorful enough. If you do use a marinade, inject it following the instructions on the kit about 15 minutes before cooking.
7. You can also use a spice rub on the inside and outside of the bird. This is also optional. There are plenty of recipes on the internet. Rub the spice onto the turkey about 24-hours ahead of time. Be generous with the spice, it is really hard to over do it since you will be boiling your turkey in oil. Most spice rubs will make the outside of the turkey dark, but don’t worry about it.
8. The night before I cook the turkey and after I spice it up, I place the bird into a brown paper shopping bag before putting it back into the fridge. This helps to soak up any remaining water.
9. A funnel to pour the cooled oil back into the container when you are finished
10. A strainer to skim the top of the cooled oil, before you pour it back into the container.
How to do it
1. The day before: Fill your pot about halfway with WATER. Drop the bird into the water and adjust the water level until it covers the bird. Remove the bird and make a mark on the pot at the water level. This will show you how much oil to use the next day.
If you are cooking more than one bird, measure the water using the heaviest bird. The heaviest bird will use the least amount of oil because it displaces more oil when you lower it into the pot. You can add oil, if necessary, for the next bird.
Pat dry your bird and apply a dry spice rub (if desired). Put it into the fridge.
2. Cooking day: Pour the oil into the pot and light your burner. It will take about 30 minutes to warm the oil up to the cooking temperature (325-350 degrees)
3. If you are cooking more than one bird, cook the larger bird first.
4. Dip the bird in slowly.
5. The temperature of the oil will start to drop after you put the bird in, turn up the gas until the temperature starts to go back up.
6. Continue to monitor the oil temperature, and adjust the gas as necessary.
7. When the bird is done, lift it out and let the excess oil run off. Bring it in the kitchen, cover it with aluminum foil and let it sit for 10-20 minutes to let it finish cooking and to let the juices circulate into place. Carve your turkey.
November 18, 2009 at 7:44 pm #85531
Wow! Well done, Jason. I think you covered every question I might have had. I’ve been interested in frying a bird. I grill them, like beercan chicken and even have a device to “beercan” a turkey (the turkey sits horizontally with the beer poured into the device); but have never tried to fry one. I may have to convince the wife. Maybe I’ll get one from the local Popeye’s ad convince her with the flavor.
Thanks, this was a very informative posting!
November 18, 2009 at 8:03 pm #85529
I fry a turkey every year – they are the best – super moist!! They now sell tabletop fryers so if you don’t want to mess with propane tanks and an open flame, this is a great alternative…
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