Friday, November 28, 2008

Deep-Fried Turkey

I am the worst Thanksgiving food blogger ever. We hosted this year, and I was so busy cleaning and cooking and fluffing my pretty napkins that I forget to take pictures of everything I made. Or everything everyone else made. I had good intentions. For example, I took a picture of my dad stirring a pot of something that would eventually become gravy. But then people were arriving, and we were talking and hugging, and food needed to be transferred to serving bowls … it’s hell being popular.

Luckily the hubby was great about photographing his deep-fried turkey, which was more exciting than what I made, anyway. It’s crispy, and juicy, and so incredibly flavorful that I nearly weep with joy.

Deep-fried turkey has been a hubby specialty for years, and he studied the process and instructions thoroughly before attempting it. For example, the instruction booklet strictly forbade dogs from jumping into the turkey fryer; at no time have we allowed such a thing. (The instructions mentioned nothing about small children, but we just kind of assumed.)

A few tips for safe turkey frying this holiday season:
  • Set up your turkey fryer on stable, level ground, such as concrete. You really don’t want your bubbling turkey fryer to tip over onto, say, your foot.
  • Keep the temperature of your oil around 325 to 350 degrees. If you get around that 375 to 400 or so mark, your oil can smoke and/or ignite. (I’m not expert, but I think ignited oil is bad.)
  • Choose a modestly sized turkey (or two). We usually do in the vicinity of 14-17 pounds. Any bigger, and the oil can bubble over the top of the pot. (The instruction fryer for your manual should recommend the appropriately sized turkey.)
  • Thaw your turkey completely. Otherwise the frozen turkey can cause the oil to bubble over the top of the pot.
  • Do not fill your fryer too full of oil. Otherwise the oil can bubble over the top of the pot.
  • Do not put your turkey in the fryer too quickly. Otherwise the oil can bubble over the top of the pot.

Clearly, the oil bubbling over the top of the pot is less than desirable. Why? Because the oil can run down into the flame under the pot, causing a greasefire, which can ignite the hose that leads to the propane tank, which can cause the propane tank to go boom. (I’m sure you can find videos online.)

So you’ve got a fully thawed turkey; what’s next? First you want to remove the neck and giblets. Trim any extra skin and fat from the tail and neck area. Hey, ya know what?

Turkey butt. Hahahahaha, I kill me. Next, rinse the poor thing.

Then, if you’re smart, you’ll inject and rub your bird. We’ve tried several rubs and marinades, both storebought and homemade, and this is our favorite by far.

Yes, the turkey doctor is in. The hubby rubs some dry mixture over the top of the turkey, and then combines the rest of the marinade with water and injects the turkey. Go ahead and poke ‘em all over. It tickles.

Then fill your turkey fryer with peanut oil. You really do want to use peanut oil, despite the prohibitive price (more than $11 per gallon, oh my!). Depending on the size of your turkey pot, you’ll need 3-4 gallons. Again, the instructions are your friend. (Some instructions recommend filling your pot with water and the turkey first to estimate the amount of oil you’ll need; if you do this, leave a lot of extra room for bubblage. Yes, I made up that word.) Preheat the oil to between 350 to 375.

Insert the turkey hanger hook (this comes with your fryer) into the turkey, and carry the turkey to the fryer using the hanger. Hold the hanger and, VERY SLOWLY, lower the turkey into the oil. This isn’t like tossing mozzarella sticks into the deep fryer; you need to lower the turkey slightly, and then give the oil time to adjust so the bubblage starts to calm down. Then lower slightly, etc. (In all, this can take 2-3 minutes.)

When the turkey is complete submerged in the oil, remove the hanger, put a lid on it, and … don’t forget about it. Ideally, you shouldn’t leave your turkey fryer’s side. In real life, you’ll want to run out and check the temperature gauge about every 10 minutes. If it’s running too cool, increase the propane flow. Decrease the flow if it’s running too hot.

As far as timing the turkey, a pretty reliable calculation is 3 1/2 minutes per pound, if you’re keeping your oil temperature in that 325 to 350 range.

Then grab your trusty hanger and a pal to hold the door while you carry your precious cargo. First, shut the valve on your propane tank. (Safety first!) Then remove the lid, insert your hanger back into the hanger hook, and lift the turkey from the oil. Hold the turkey above the pot for a minute or two to drain any excess oil before bringing the turkey inside.

Let the turkey sit and cool for about 15 minutes. Delight in the oohs and aahs of your stunned guests before carving.

And stop taking photos so you can get it while the gettin’s good. There’s only so much skin to go around.

1 comment:

T2 said...

Alyssa, you don't brine your turkey?