|Try Deep Frying a Turkey During the Holidays|
Of course, an idea like fried turkey originated in the South, the frying capital of the United States, but it has gained popularity nationwide. It’s a perfect twist for barbecues, block parties and holiday feasts. In fact, since deep frying turkey requires special equipment and lots of oil, families and groups of neighbors often get together to share the costs and the feast.
You’ll need a large, heavy pot with lid and basket, burner and propane gas tank, a candy thermometer to measure oil temperature and a food thermometer to determine doneness of the turkey. For added safety, have a fire extinguisher, oven mitts and pot holders nearby. To add flavor with different marinades and seasonings, you may want to purchase an injector.
Place the fryer on level dirt or a grassy area. Never fry a turkey indoors, in a garage or in any other structure attached to a building. Avoid frying on wood decks, which could catch fire, and concrete, which can be stained by the oil.
Smaller turkeys, 8 to 10 pounds and turkey parts, such as breast, wings, drumsticks and thighs, are best for frying. Size does matter as a 12 to 14 pound turkey is the maximum size bird that can be successfully deep fried. In addition to the obvious safety concern of lowering and lifting a big turkey into a vessel of boiling oil, larger birds simply cook longer. The extra cooking time results in over exposure to the skin, which will likely be over cooked.
You’ll need approximately 5 gallons of a high-smoke point oil. To determine the correct amount of oil, place the turkey in the fryer basket and place in the pot. Add water until it reaches 1 inches to 2 inches above the turkey. Remove the turkey and note the water level, using a ruler to measure the distance from the top of the pot to the surface of the water. Pour out the water and dry the pot thoroughly. Be sure to measure for oil before marinating the turkey.
While the oil is heating, prepare the turkey as desired. There are a plethora of commercial jarred injectable marinades available at the supermarket or gourmet shops, but why buy something that’s so easy to make yourself? Just remember, the injector needles are small so you must use ingredients that dissolve or that are pureed so finely they won’t clog the needle. As such, garlic and onion powder work better than their fresh counterparts. Also look for concentrated liquid spices in gourmet shops. Fill your syringe with marinade and inject it into both sides of the breast, the legs and the thighs of the turkey. Don’t be afraid to move the needle around to get the marinade into the whole bird. Sometimes it’s easier to get the thighs from the inside of the cavity. While you can make a fried turkey without this step and get a moist bird, it won’t be as flavorful as if you take the time to inject your bird with marinade about an half hour or so before frying.
Remove any excess fat around the neck. Do not stuff turkeys for deep frying. To reduce spattering, thoroughly dry the interior and exterior of the bird. If a larger bird (over 15-pounds) has been purchased, follow these steps for the best results. Detach the dark meat (leg and thigh portions) from the breast and fry the two turkey parts separately. Fry the leg/thigh sections first in oil that has been preheated to 365 to 375° F. Cook to an internal temperature of 180° F. Remove the dark sections and reheat the oil to 365 to 375° F. Then fry the turkey breast to an internal temperature of 170° F.
Once the oil has come to temperature, place the turkey in the basket and slowly lower into the pot. Whole turkeys require approximately 3 minutes per pound to cook. Remove turkey and check internal temperature with meat thermometer. The temperature should be at least 165° F, but preferably 170° F in the breast and 180°F in the thigh. Turkey parts such as breast, wings and thighs require approximately 4 to 5 minutes per pound to come to temperature.
Never leave the hot oil unattended and don’t allow children or pets near the cooking area. Immediately wash hands, utensils, equipment and surfaces that have come in contact with raw turkey.
The oils used to fry turkey are critical to the success of the product. Only oils that have high smoke points should be used. Such oils include peanut, canola and sunflower. Peanut oil has abundant flavor and is the top choice of most cooks. These high smoke-point oils allow reusing the oil with proper filtration. Depending on the recipe used, remember to filter the oil...not just strain it. Allow the oil to cool overnight in the covered pot. The first step is to strain the cooled oil through a fine strainer. If a rub is used in the preparation of the turkey, it will be necessary to further filter the oil through fine cheesecloth.
Peanut oil should be covered and refrigerated, if kept longer than one month, to prevent it from becoming rancid. It is more perishable than other oils. Peanut oil may even be frozen; it will thicken when chilled, but will return to its original consistency when reheated. The oil may remain in the refrigerator for several months or until signs of deterioration begin. Peanut oil may be used three or four times to fry turkeys before signs of deterioration begin– foaming, darkening or smoking excessively, indicating the oil must be discarded. Other signs of deteriorated oil include a rancid smell and/or failure to bubble when food is added.