Thanksgiving is just around the corner. And everyone’s thoughts are on turkey. If you’re tired of the same old roasted bird year after year, why not try something new. Deep fried turkey! Um, um good. There are basically two ways to go about deep frying a turkey. One is to purchase a propane powered turkey fryer which should be used outdoors such as either the Bass Pro Shops® 30 Quart Propane Turkey Fryer or the Bass Pro Shops® Stainless Steel Turkey Fryer with Spigot. The other way to go is to buy an electric turkey fryer which would be safe to use indoors such as the Butterball Indoor Electric Turkey Fryer. All three are available at your Bass Pro Shops and will do nicely to deep fry your turkey.
Before we get too far along, we will want to make sure we have everything needed. In addition to the basic necessities we will need a thermometer to measure the oil temperature, a food thermometer to measure the internal temperature of the turkey, an injector for marinades and seasonings, oven mitts and pot holders and last but not least a functioning fire extinguisher.
To begin with, don’t make the mistake of getting to large of a bird. The perfect size for deep frying a turkey is in the range of 8 to 10 pounds with the maximum weight being around 14 pounds. The reason for this is that the cooking time required for a larger bird will result in the skin being over cooked. If you do end up with a bird over 14 or 15 pounds all is not lost. What you would do in that case is to remove the dark meat (drumsticks, thighs and wings) and cook them separately. After frying the dark meat you will need to reheat the oil and proceed to fry the remaining portions. Another reason to have a smaller bird is that you don’t necessarily want to be wrestling a 24 pound turkey over a pot of scalding hot oil. A word of caution while we are on the subject, deep frying a turkey can be inherently dangerous especially if you are outdoors. Make sure that the pot stays clear of kids or animals that could come into harms way. That goes for adults also. You don’t want any horseplay around a pot of boiling oil.
Okay, let’s get started. To begin you will need to determine the type of oil to use. You should only use oil with high smoke points for deep frying your turkey if you want to avoid the burned oil flavor that comes from using inferior oils. The best of these is peanut oil. However other oils such as canola oil or sunflower oil also meet the criteria. One could even mix canola oil with peanut oil if cholesterol is a concern as canola oil is low in saturated fats. These high quality oils can be reused up to three-four times before going bad. After the oil cools, merely strain or filter and store in the refrigerator. Most oils can be stored in this manner for several months. The amount of oil to be used is often marked on the side of the fryer you are using. Another method which is more precise is to place the thawed turkey in the empty pot and fill the pot with water until the turkey is covered. Remove the turkey and mark or measure the height of the water left in the pot. Next drain the water from the pot, dry thoroughly and refill with oil to the mark you have just determined. You can plan on using approximately 4 gallons of oil if using the outdoor fryer and as little as 3 gallons of oil for the electric indoor turkey fryer. Preheat the oil to approximately 375 to 385 degrees. Our final cooking temperature will be 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Note that the temperature of the oil will drop when the turkey is first immersed.
While we are waiting for the oil to heat we now need to finalize the preparation of the turkey. First remove the turkey from the wrapper making sure to note the weight of the bird so as to compute approximate cooking times. For whole turkeys this will be 3 to 4 minutes per pound. For turkey parts allow 4 to 5 minutes per pound. Next remove the neck and giblets from the body cavity. We do not want to stuff any turkey that is to be deep fried. You may inject the turkey with marinade at this time if desired. Season as desired and let stand approximately 30 minutes to allow the seasoning and marinade to permeate into the meat. At this time remove any excess skin or fat around the neck to allow oil to flow freely throughout the body cavity. Also remove the wire or plastic truss that holds the legs together. Finally remove the pop up timer unless you enjoy the flavor of melted plastic.
Now place the turkey on a turkey lifter which will be used for lowering and raising the turkey from the hot oil. Before lowering the prepared bird into the boiling oil, make sure you dry it as thoroughly as possible to avoid any splattering of hot oil. Also, before lowering the turkey, you will need to temporarily turn off the burner if cooking with propane on an open flame to prevent any splattering oil from igniting. Now very slowly lower the turkey into the oil. As stated previously, allow approximately 3 to 4 minutes per pound while maintaining an oil temperature of 350 degrees. Once the time has expired, remove the turkey and allow it to drain on paper towels. Next check the internal temperature to ensure the turkey is done. We are looking for a temperature of 165-170 degrees in the breast and 175-180 degrees in the thigh. The turkey should appear a deep golden brown color when done. Take care not to overcook as this is a common mistake for those who have never deep fried a turkey.
Allow the turkey to rest approximately 20 minutes prior to carving. Now all that is left is to eat the darned thing. You will never believe how moist and tender a turkey can taste until you have deep fried one. The days of that old dried out roasted turkey are gone. Remember to store any leftovers in the refrigerator within two hours of cooking. Enjoy!!
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