The time between Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s are some of my favorite times of the year for so many reasons. Among the time with family, friends and loved ones that I cherish most I also try to take in as many plays, festivals, theme parks and other seasonal events as possible. And as far as foods go, one of the staples I’m especially fond of during the holidays that I make every year is… fried turkey!
I first tried fried turkey about fifteen years ago and have been frying turkeys ever since. It is simply the most tender and juicy method of cooking a turkey that you could ever hope for and it takes far less time than actually baking a turkey. In my humble opinion once you’ve tried fried turkey, it’s hard to eat in any other way. So what I’d like to share with you are some tips for frying turkeys so you don’t end up a statistic like on one of those Allstate commercials. It’s actually a pretty funny commercial (CLICK HERE TO VIEW) and coincidentally I have insurance with Allstate which I hope I’ll never need.
You will need the following equipment:
A turkey fryer kit (stainless steel preferably).
A fire extinguisher for oil and grease.
Industrial elbow length gloves.
A full propane tank.
A lighter or matches.
A level surface to set up.
A tarp (optional) to place the turkey fryer.
A turkey (no more than 14 pounds).
Two 3-gallon containers of oil (I use peanut oil).
I personally would never buy on of those indoor turkey fryers due to the potential of what could happen, but I’ll skip over the standard safety measures that you should take under the assumption that you’ve read the owner’s manual. Let’s jump right into a few things I recommend as key to a enjoying a pleasant turkey frying experience and avoiding injury or any property damage like some of these videos.
First, do make sure that you’ve marked the outside of your pot using water first with the depth at which you need to fill the pot with oil to just cover a 14 pound turkey. This is crucial in preventing overflow of oil that is in excess of 325 °F that can easily cause a fire or worse. Equally important is to be sure your turkey fryer is on a completely level surface for obvious reasons. I like to use a heavy duty tarp to prevent any oil stains weighted on each corner. And for me placement is important since I’m usually frying turkeys in cold weather with strong winds. I’ll look for an area that offers the most wind resistance so I can keep the oil at optimum temperature to fry turkeys quicker and minimize my time in the cold. Since I usually have people and nieces of all ages around while I’m doing this I also try and build a barrier (with picnic tables or something) explaining to them they aren’t allowed in this area. Also, I never leave the turkey fryer unattended. My family helps with this if I need to go prep a turkey or prepare a batch of the hushpuppies my nieces love so much.
For me frying turkeys is an experience as enjoyable as tailgating at a concert or sporting event. Depending on the weather, we’ll have kids and adults outside socializing, playing cornhole and watching the kids play while this divine staple fries at 3.5 minutes per pound emitting a bouquet of flavor that I wish I could bottle up and sell. OK… maybe that was too much.
In regards to preparing the turkey, I can not stress enough the importance of making sure that your turkey be completely dry with no water (or ice) on the inside or outside of the turkey. I’m sure you can go to YouTube and find a lot of videos on how to fry a turkey or not to do so. Also, I’ll inject the turkey with a marinade to add some flavor some times. Frequently, I’l buy a spicy Italian dressing and drain the seeds leaving just the liquid and use this, but you can also use just about anything or even spirits like Rum where the alcohol will burn off leaving just he flavor. Just letting you know that when injecting, you will leave some marinade between the meat and the skin and when the turkey is fried these area will give the appearance the turkey has burned but the turkey is perfectly fine. When the turkey is dropped into the fryer (very slowly) it seals the juices in the turkey creating a crisp outer shell of the skin where frankly even the skin is a delicacy in itself… kind of like those little crisps you get from Long John Silvers.
Since I’m from the south I do consider myself part redneck (I do drive a pick-up truck as well) and if you’ve lived in the south you’ve seen all sorts of deep friend concoctions. I’ve tried a number of different things in the fryer from catfish bites and hushpuppies to deep fried ice cream, elephant ears and deep fried snicks bars. I love experimenting and would encourage you to do so as well.
My favorite treat of all time is hushpuppies. After five long years I’ve not only finally perfected the recipe, but the process of ensuring they are soft, sweet and the same size each and every time. They’re harder than you think often turning out too hard and crispy on the outside and undercooked on the inside. As a matter of fact, this past Thanksgiving I made my first batch of hushpuppies and to my surprise I came in after frying turkeys and they were all gone. I had never been so disappointed and elated at the same time that everyone loved them (perhaps I’ll share the recipe on my next blog)… so I made a second batch the next day.
That being said I’ll share some of my favorite recipes for shrimp and grits, catfish stew and hushpuppies in one of my future blogs. Please do yourself a favor though. If you ever get a chance to try a fried turkey do so… you won’t be disappointed.
BY: Cory Prado