Do you want to know why I love being from the south? It’s because southerners can figure out a way to take even the most healthy foods in the world and make them a cardiologist’s worst nightmare. That’s right, we deep-fry just about everything. Corn, broccoli, bacon, okra, you get the idea. I like to believe the first guy to figure out you could fry a turkey was a direct descendant of the first guy to eat an oyster on a dare.
But make no mistake. You can’t just throw a turkey in a big pot of oil and expect everything to turn out ok. There’s actually a science to it. You have to have the right equipment, proper size bird properly prepared, and the right kind of oil at just the right temperature. So let’s get right to it. Here is the proper and definitive way to fry a turkey.
Ingredients and Equipment
Turkey frying kit – You CANNOT fry a turkey on the stove or in a house. I’m not going to go into a long list of the equipment you need to safely fry a turkey. The best thing to do is to go to Wal-Mart and buy a turkey fryer. It comes with everything you need except the propane tank. Pot, burner, thing that goes up the turkey’s butt, etc.
Turkey – The one thing you don’t want to do when frying a turkey is to get the biggest one you can find. Try to stay in the 13-16lb range. Anything bigger will be too hard to handle. You can always buy two if needed. They cook quickly.
Seasoning – What you season the turkey with is up to you. I prefer Legg’s seasoning, but any poultry rub will do. My mom is partial to garlic salt and black pepper.
Peanut Oil – This is probably the most important ingredient. You absolutely CANNOT use any other kind of oil. Peanut oil handles the heat better than any other oil and won’t burn the turkey. It is expensive, but it’s worth every penny not to have a burnt and greasy turkey for Thanksgiving. You’ll need a few gallons. You won’t know how much until you do a test dunk with the turkey (more on that later) so buy the smallest bottles the store has so you can return the ones you didn’t use.
Wild Turkey and Coke – You’re going to be standing out in the cold watching a turkey cook. You’ll need this.
Directions and Tips/Warnings
Setting up the fryer – As I mentioned before, you cannot fry a turkey on your stove or in your house. When you set up your fryer make sure you read the directions and you are as far away from your house/garage/workshop as possible. I’ve been doing this a while and I’ve seen my fair share of turkeys go up in flames.
The oil – Here’s the best way to figure out how much oil you need in the fryer. you don’t want to guess because as soon as you drop that bird in the pot, the oil will overflow and catch on fire. Place the bird in the pot. Fill the pot with water until it covers the entire turkey. Take the turkey out of the pot and mark the inside of the pot where the water level is. This is the mark you fill the oil to.
Temperature – Your kit should have come with a long thermometer. If it didn’t, be sure to get one. The peanut oil needs to be heated to 350 degrees. Any hotter and you’ll have a turkey that’s crisp on the outside and raw on the inside. Any cooler and you’ll have a greasy bird that takes forever to cook.
Seasoning the turkey – Unlike chicken, you don’t flour a turkey. All you need to do is season it. Rub whatever seasoning you’re using all over the turkey. It’s a good idea to pull up the skin on the breast and shove some in there too as well as the body cavity. Oh, and don’t forget to take the neck and stuff out of the cavity.
Frying the turkey – So your oil is 350 degrees, your turkey is seasoned and you’re ready to cook. But are you? Are you positive your turkey is completely thawed? This is the number 1 reason for turkey fryer fires. Yep. Frozen turkey syndrome. Ok so I made the name up, but the rest is true. Ice and hot oil don’t play well together so be sure your turkey is COMPLETELY thawed.
So let’s assume you’re ready to cook. How long do you cook? Your uncle Fred probably insists, “The proper time to cook a turkey is blah, blah, blah.” Your uncle Fred is and asshole and probably an alcoholic. Don’t listen to him. This is your show. This is the correct and definitive time for frying a turkey. 3 MINUTES PER POUND.
Place a broom handle through the triangle hook that came with your kit and get a buddy to help you SLOWLY lower the turkey into the oil. The turkey is going to lower the temperature of the oil so you’ll need to crank the fire up just a little to keep it at 350 degrees. Watch the thermometer and lower the heat if needed later. Now just multiply the weight of your turkey by three and wait that many minutes until you pull it out. FYI, If you’re cooking multiple turkeys, don’t worry if the second one looks darker than the first. The oil just got a little dirty from the first one.