By Steve Black
If you haven't tried fried turkey, you've probably at least heard about how moist and flavorful the turkey meat is and how deliciously crispy the skin becomes. At Bass Pro Shop we carry everything you need to make this mouthwatering bird a do-it yourself project.
For this project you'll need a turkey fryer . A propane style over electric is the least expensive but also the most dangerous to use. A basic propane turkey fryer has a 30 qt. pot with lid, a turkey rack, a lifter hook and the propane burner stand for the pot. Here's a good turkey fryer we sell with all that included for $49.97.
The best place to use a turkey fryer is on a flat surface dirt or grassy area several feet away from decks and houses and never inside a house or garage.
You'll also need around 3.5 to 5 gallons of oil with a high smoke point. Most of the turkeys I fry are around the 12 to 15 lb range and I have usually needed about 4 gallons. You'll have to have enough oil to just barely cover the turkey. Most fryers won't take over a 15 lb turkey very well and the smaller the turkey, the more oil your turkey pot will need to fill it. The scientific term for this is called 'displacement'. The more space your turkey takes up in the pot, the less oil that pot can hold. The type of oil I have always used are the cottonseed and peanut oils, but I have heard of good results coming from corn oil as well.
Both cottonseed and peanut oils are highly regarded for their great frying abilities, but I prefer the cottonseed since it has a slightly cleaner taste.
We also sell the cottonseed oil in a 3 gallon size called our Turkey Gold for $36.99 which makes it a better value than the one gallon jugs of cottonseed and the peanut oil since 3 gallons of our peanut oil would cost you about $45.
Figuring out exactly how much oil you need is a very important step so that you have just enough oil to cover the turkey but no over splash once you place the turkey in the boiling hot oil. A good way to do this is with a gallon size old milk or water container. Do a test with your turkey in the pot to see how many gallons of water it takes to cover the turkey. I usually still keep my turkey in its plastic wrap for this and just make sure I have about 2" of water over the turkey. That way when the turkey goes in the oil without the plastic wrap, I have enough oil to fill the cavity of the turkey and still be just over or at the legs. Don't be concerned if a little of the leg sticks out from the oil. As long as the meat of the legs is covered in oil, they will still cook.
Your going to aim for about 325 degrees frying temp and remember that the temperature will drop once the turkey goes in the oil. So I aim to get the oil to about 335 -340 degrees so when the turkey goes in it drops to the 325 mark. As long as you stay over 300 and under 350 the turkey will cook at 3.5 minutes per pound and taste delicious.
The only rule to how you prepare your turkey for frying is that it is completely dry both inside and outside. Any excess water has the opportunity to react with the hot oil and explode. So check the inside cavity extremely well and make sure no ice or water remain. A lot of times the turkey seems thawed but the inside cavity still has a little ice trapped inside. If so, I run some cold water through the inside of the turkey to melt the ice. Once the turkey looks good and thawed, I dry off the turkey with paper towels both inside and out.
Now to turn this soon to be delicious turkey into a fabulously delicious turkey you can inject it with a turkey marinade. We have dozens of marinades to choose from and can make your turkey as spicy or buttery as you like. My overall favorite is the Cajun Injector Creole Butter Marinade Combo for $6.99. The Creole butter sells for $4.49 for the jar, but the combo comes with the injector and a sample of their Cajun Shake which is a great seasoning to add to any dish.
Now here are your 12 Steps to Turkey Frying:
1) Go to Bass Pro Shop and get a turkey fryer, propane, BBQ lighter, frying oil and the injectable marinade of your choice. Then on the way home get a 12-15 lb turkey from your local grocery store.
2) Measure exactly how much oil you need ahead of time.
3) Make sure your turkey is completely dry and inject with your choice of marinade.
4) Select flat area away from house to place turkey fryer and also place fire extinguisher nearby
5) Add oil to turkey fryer and ignite burner. Wait to reach temperature of 335 to 340 and never leave the hot oil unattended.
6) Temporarily turn off burner and place turkey on turkey rack and SLOWLY lower turkey into hot oil using lifter hook and thick pot-holder gloves
7) Put lid on fryer while still wearing thick pot-holder style gloves and insert thermometer into pot then re-ignite burner.
8) Have holiday beverage ready as you stand or sit by the fryer and make sure oil stays at 325 for calculated time of 3.5 minutes per pound. Never leaving the hot oil unattended
9) When time is up, put on pot holder gloves and use lifter hook to raise turkey out of hot oil and place on sturdy cutting tray.
10) Turn off hot oil and wait about 10 minutes before you cut into your turkey.
11) Carve turkey. Once you begin carving, feel free to sample and enjoy the fruits of your labor.
12) Serve to guests and loved ones and receive praises of your culinary craftsmanship.