Let's Talk Turkey
If you've never tried it, fried turkey is simply the best! Contrary to what you might think, it is not oily or greasy at all. In fact, I've read it is actually less fatty than a roasted turkey, because the heat of the oil renders off the fat under the skin and seals the meat. It is the moistest (is this a word?!) bird you'll ever eat.
A word of caution: DO NOT DO THIS INDOORS! DO NOT DO THIS ON A WOODEN DECK! DO NOT DO THIS NEAR FLAMMABLE MATERIALS!.
As you'll see, when the bird hits the oil, a great deal of splattering occurs. The oil is at least 350 degrees fahrenheit, and will cook whatever it hits. BE CAREFUL! WEAR AN OVEN MIT TO PROTECT YOUR HAND!
OK, enough mother-hen stuff. Let's fry us a bird! You can click on any of the images for a full-sized view.
First, you need the correct cooking set-up. Most home centers (Home Depot, Orchard Supply, Ace Hardware, Lowe's) and mega-stores (Wal-Mart, K-Mart, Target) sell turkey frying kits. They consist of a boiling pot with lid, a burner, a turkey stand, lifting hook, instructions and thermometer. They DON'T include the propane tank. Make sure you get a tank that matches the regulator that comes with your burner.
Read and keep your instructions. The amount of oil you will use will depend upon the size of your pot and the size of your bird. The more bird, the less oil (bonus!). This is because the larger birds displace more oil. Be careful not to over-fill your pot with oil, as you will have major spillage when the bird is immersed, and you'll be visiting the burn unit of your local hospital.
Set up your boiler and get the oil heated. It takes my burner about 35 minutes to get the 2 gallons to 350 degrees.
In the photos that follow, we used 2 gallons of oil for an 18 pound turkey. The preferred oil is peanut oil. Any high temperature oil will work just fine (we used canola oil - it's a lot cheaper).
While the oil is heating, get your bird ready. We injected marinade (12 oz commercial cajun marinade and 6 oz American Pale Ale homebrew) into our turkey the night before. I've got to admit, noone could taste the marinade after the bird was done. I guess it cooks off in the oil. It smelled great while it was cooking, but none of the marinade flavor was present at the end.
Also, notice the ends of the drumsticks. They are held together with a plastic tie kinda-thingy. REMOVE this before you fry the bird.
You now place the bird onto it's holder. It is a rod that runs through the middle of the bird, and has a base for keeping the turkey upright in the pot. It will have some sort of hook at the top for lifting the bird.
At this point, pat the bird dry with paper towels. The less exterior moisture, the better (oil and water don't mix...).
Once your oil is up to the correct temperature, you now want to SLOWLY lower the bird into the oil. Be sure you have an oven mitt on your hand, as the splattering is pretty intense.
I mean really slowly....
Hey! Slow down there, Chester.... Click on the image to see how much splattering is going on.
As I said earlier, we had the oil up to 350 degrees. Once you drop the bird into the oil, it's thermal mass will quickly drop the temperature. This is OK. Put the cover back on the pot, keep your flame going and cook away. We go for 3 1/2 minutes per pound. We had an 18 pound turkey, so we fried our's for 63 minutes. A smaller bird (12 lbs or less) would go for 4 minutes per pound. Chickens go for 5 minutes per pound.
When that bad-boy's done, put your oven mitt back on, grab the hook and haul it out.
Time to get up-close-and-personal!
Take the bird out and let it rest, covered in aluminum foil for at least 20 minutes before carving. You will experience the juiciest turkey you've ever had.
One very interesting note, the skin is not crispy! You'd think that with all of that oil, it would be very crunchy. Nope. My guess is that because the skin isn't coated with a starch (flour, etc.) you don't get the crunch. You also don't get the added fat.
Save those calories for another homebrew! JMS
PS: Wanna try something different? How about Deep Fried Prime Rib! Check it out.
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