The Basics of Frying Turkey

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I recently fried my first turkey. The end result was the best poultry I have ever eaten. The breast meat was spectacular, it literally had a texture and moisture similar to watermelon. I was stunned. It was the definition of juicy and tender.

Here are some basics I learned:

• To fry a turkey safely, invest $50 to $100 in a turkey fryer. Choose a model with a pot that is marked with a maximum fill line to protect from over-filling with oil. When using the fryer, do it outside away from buildings - grease fires aren’t good for holiday parties.

 • Do not fry a whole turkey that weighs more than 12 pounds. For a larger turkey, cut it up and fry the parts separate, kind of like a chicken, for best results.

 • Bird must be completely thawed. Frozen turkey + hot oil = explosion.

• Use thermometers to monitor the temperature of the oil and the internal temperature of the turkey. Keeping track of the temperatures is the real secret to cooking the perfect bird.

As I wrote in the intro, I had never fried a turkey before. I wasn’t sure how to document it or what the bird would look like once it came out of the oil. All I could do was move all of my photography equipment out into the yard and take the pictures as I went. A turkey is an awkward thing to photograph, especially after it comes out of the oil. The legs and wings just flail around as it cooks and they end up setting in random positions.

I decided that I would take a “frying basics” approach once I looked at the photos from the shoot. I contemplated redoing it, because the shots weren't ideal, but I thought it would be valuable to share what I had learned while cooking this bird. That is what many will end up doing themselves this Thanksgiving.

Next time, I am going to fry only a whole breast. The wings and legs had spots that got way over-cooked, the thick parts were magnificent, with the breast being like nothing I have ever eaten. Which is why a breast alone or even legs by themselves would be the most efficient method to frying turkey.

This year I was just learning, next year, I'll refine my recipe. The fry method is perfect for the large chunks of meat, I would really like to try frying a pork loin, then slice it thin for sandwiches. Maybe that will be what I make for Christmas.

Eat well, cook often ... 

Serves 8 to 10; 2 hours
1 10 to 12 lb. Whole turkey, completely thawed
1/4 C Salt and pepper (2 Tbs each)
1 Turkey fryer with propane tank
3 Gal Oil for frying

Heat oil, prepare turkey
Heat oil to 375°. Pat dry thawed turkey with paper towel, removing as much of the moisture as possible. Season turkey inside and out. Place turkey on frying truss.

Cook turkey
When oil reaches temperature, slowly submerge turkey in oil (wear oven mitts). Let turkey cook until internal temperature in the thickest part of the breast reaches 165° (Estimate approximately 3 minutes per pound cooking time)

Rest turkey
Once turkey is cooked removed to a paper-towel lined cooking sheet with a rack on it, let turkey drain and rest for at least 20 minutes. Internal temperature will rise to 170°. Remove frying truss, carve and serve.

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