Safely Deep Frying Your Turkey for Thanksgiving

Safely Deep Frying Your Turkey for Thanksgiving

Safely Deep Frying Your Turkey for Thanksgiving

The deep frying method of cooking has enjoyed a recent surge in popularity, with celebrity chefs and home cooks alike busting out a vat of hot oil to cook crisp and flavorful foods. Even the humble Thanksgiving turkey has dipped a toe into the world of frying. Many food experts and enthusiasts prefer this method over the traditional roasting because the bird keeps all of its juices, and therefore flavor, in the meat rather than losing it through evaporation like with oven roasting. The skin also comes out extremely crispy and there’s no basting to worry about.

However, despite the great results that turkey frying can produce, this cooking method is not without its risks. Most deep fried foods are small, such as french fries, pieces of chicken or shrimp. They are dropped in a basket that prevents them from splashing the oil and are added in small batches. A Thanksgiving turkey usually weighs from 8 to 40 pounds and is one solid lump of fat, meat and water. Trying to wedge a large bird inside a 5 gallon deep fryer is dangerous and without the proper safety precautions you could be seriously injured or damage your home. Take the time to set up your turkey deep frying equipment properly or stick to oven roasting this year.

Start with a smaller turkey. A 5 gallon deep fryer will only safely hold a turkey that weighs 12 pounds or less. The turkey needs to fit within the tub without becoming wedged in to prevent pressure from building up around it. Choose a deep fryer that is vertically orientated for best results and check out its support system. Adding some concrete blocks and other supports to prevent it from tipping over prevents fires and injuries. Always deep fry large food like a whole turkey outside, on a flat and level spot such as a concrete driveway or a patio.

Using the right oil ensures the turkey cooks all the way through without the oil smoking or catching on fire. Canola and safflower are both safe choices, but peanut oil adds the most flavor. Buy enough oil so that your turkey will be completely covered or you’ll be left with a half cooked bird. On the day you plan to fry, give the oil plenty of time to heat up. You’ll need to set up some kind of way to lower the bird into the oil slowly without any risk of dropping it. A tripod and pulley, along with a rope and a meat hook to hold the turkey, will allow you to raise and lower the bird slowly from a safe distance away.

Partially frozen turkeys will cause the oil to bubble over, possibly covering the entire deep fryer in flames. Let the turkey thaw completely and pat it dry with paper towels to cut down on the moisture on the surface. Water boils immediately when it hits hot oil, so getting rid of excess water prevents minor explosions in the oil. Lowering the turkey so about ΒΌ of it sits in the oil allows the bird to reach 350 degrees slowly. This prevents the oil from overflowing due to temperature differences. If the oil does start to bubble and rise, pulling the turkey back up for a few minutes will help prevent an emergency situation.

If the fryer does bubble over or tip and spill hot oil, get away from it and don’t try dousing it with cold water. Move objects away from the oil and any fire and smother it with dirt or sand. Having a few buckets of these materials on hand helps you stay prepared in case something does go wrong. Your turkey needs between four and five minutes of frying per pound, so your 10 pound bird should be ready in 30 minutes. Check the internal temperature to ensure the meat is at least 165 degrees, then rest it on a roasting rack over paper towels or let it drip over the deep fryer vat. Keep in mind that the oil will remain hot for hours, so don’t allow your pets or children to play near it even after you’re done cooking.

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