You know those shrimp you love to deep fry in the summer? Well, don’t put the deep fryer away in the fall. Keep it out to cook your Thanksgiving turkey!

Frying a turkey may sound like a strange concept, but  it doesn’t come out like you’d think. Deep fried turkey is moist and delicious, and not at all greasy. In the hot oil, the turkey’s skin sears quickly, keeping the inside juicy.

Carving a deep fried turkey

Adapted from an article by Cheri Sicard

As you might expect, the idea for deep fried turkey originated in the south — the frying capital of the United States — but has quickly gained popularity nationwide. In fact, one block party I attended in South Central Los Angeles had three fried turkeys going. Several groups of neighbors had gotten together and split the cost of the oil and special equipment needed to make this dish, and their tables were some of the most popular.

Here are tips from experts all across America on how to safely fry a delicious turkey dinner.
What you will need to deep fry turkey

Choosing a turkey: As far as the turkey itself goes, smaller birds work better for frying. Before you buy your turkey, check the instructions for your turkey fryer. Most fryers will accommodate a 12-16 pound turkey. A larger turkey will not fit in the fryer or will take too long to cook. If you need a lot of meat, cook two turkeys, one after the other.

Choosing the oil: Only use oils that have high smoke points, such as peanut oil, refined canola oil, corn oil, rice oil and sunflower oil.

For marinade: An injector to add marinades and seasonings to give the meat more flavor is nice to have, although you can make a plain turkey without it. (Get some marinade recipe ideas here.)

Basic turkey prep
  • Make sure the turkey is completely thawed before you cook it. (See some important precautions, and a video called “Deep-fried turkey explosion,” here.)
  • Remove all of the wrapping, netting, etc. from your turkey.
  • Remove the hock lock (metal or plastic thing holding the legs together).
  • Take out any pop-up timer from the turkey.
  • Remove the giblets and neck from the cavity.
  • Cut off the wing tips up to the first joint, and cut off the tail.
  • Pat the turkey dry, inside and out, in order to prevent oil splattering when it’s submerged in the hot grease.
  • Be sure the metal basket/frying rack/grab hook is clean, completely dry, and ready to go.
Marinades, rubs and other turkey treatments

Rule number one: Don’t stuff a turkey that you’re going to fry.

Deep fried turkey spice rubBefore cooking, you can inject the turkey with your favorite marinade, rub it with a dry spice rub, or coat it in seasoned bread crumbs. Use any seasonings that you like. A heavy spice rub of something like Creole spices, black pepper or lemon pepper can be applied both inside and outside the bird.

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Prepared marinades, available from the grocery store, can also be injected into the meat before cooking to add juiciness and flavor. Use a marinade injector syringe, available online or from a grocery store, to inject marinade.

A 10-pound turkey should be injected with about 16 ounces (or 2 cups) of marinade, suggests Sarah G Birkhold, Assistant Professor and Extension Poultry Specialist, The Texas A&M University System. (As you might imagine, you should use more marinade on larger birds, and less on smaller birds or cuts of poultry.)

On whole birds, inject about 60 percent of the marinade into the breast muscles, 30 percent into the muscles of the legs and thighs, and 10 percent into the wings. Do not simply inject the marinade under the skin because, as the skin cooks, the water-based marinade will cause the hot oil to pop and splatter. Likewise, do not marinate by soaking the turkey, because this will create lots of hot oil spatter when frying.

After adding marinades and/or seasonings, the National Turkey Federation recommends you place the turkey in a clean roasting pan on the countertop for 30 to 45 minutes. This will allow the marinade and seasonings to permeate the turkey and raise the turkey’s internal temperature, so there will be less splatter during the frying process. (Do not leave it out any more than 45 minutes, though, or you risk food poisoning.)

Since it takes about 45 minutes for the oil to reach the proper temperature, you may want to start the final turkey prep around the time you turn on the burner.

>> On the next page: Where to fry, How to deep fry your turkey, When the turkey is done


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