Countdown to Turkey Day 2009: Fried Turkey Talk

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Heather says:

My first encounter with a fried turkey had to have been around 1997. I was visiting the family of my then boyfriend down in Jacksonville, FL. The family was big and friendly, but I was extremely shy, so I lurked outside with the dad who was in charge of frying the turkey.  Circumstances changed, but I have put the knowledge of turkey frying to good use.


How to Deep Fry A Turkey


Obviously there are safety precautions one must take when deep frying anything as large as a turkey.

  1. The turkey must be fully thawed.
  2. This is an outdoor activity. All the way outside, the garage is NOT outside.
  3. It must be done on level ground, preferably concrete. Nothing flammable should be in the vicinity.
  4. The propane tank should be set as far from the burner as possible without stretching the hose taut and creating a trip hazard. (Common sense people, please)
  5. The fryer should never be left unattended while in operation.
  6. Children? Keep them away from the area.
  7. Use gloves.
  8. Use a thermometer.
  9. Don’t let drunk Uncle Bob be in charge of this operation.

Equipment needed:

  • turkey fryer (a “turkey lifter”, a large stock pot, with a propane burner)
  • propane tank
  • a thermometer with a long probe & clip
  • heavy gloves
  • meat thermometer
  • peanut oil
  • Cajun seasoning

You’ll have better results frying two smaller turkeys than one large turkey. Smaller turkeys don’t cause the temperature of the oil to drop as much. If the oil is too cool, it will be greasier than it should be.

Before the big day, you’ll need to figure out how much oil the turkey will displace. If you filled the pot without checking, you risk either having too little oil or risk an overflow. With the turkey still in its plastic wrapping place it in the pot. Fill the pot with water until it barely covers the turkey. Remove the turkey and note the level of the water.  When you fill the fryer with oil, do NOT fill it to this line. Fill it about 2/3rds of the way, then turn on the heat. After the oil has reached 350F, then add more oil if necessary. Oil significantly increases in volume with the addition of heat.

Back to the turkey.

An hour before frying pull the turkey from the refrigerator or cooler, remove the plastic wrap, giblets, neck, and tail. Check the bird carefully for any plastic, it may have a pop-up indicator or plastic wrapped to hold the drumsticks in place. Remove these pieces.

Someone else should be outside getting the fryer ready.

Blot the bird as dry as possible with paper towels. Water and hot oil are a very bad mix.

Rub the turkey down with Cajun seasoning, including inside the cavity.

deep frying turkey 2Place the turkey on the stand, it should be doing what would be a headstand, if it still had a head. It can hang out here until it’s time for frying.

The oil should be at 350F.

deep frying turkey

Carefully, wearing gloves and using a hook, lower the DRY, seasoned turkey into the oil.

Watch the temperature of the oil and adjust the flame as necessary. Immediately reduce the flame if the oil creeps over 350F.

Fry the turkey for 3 minutes a pound. Remove the turkey from oil and check the inner thigh with a meat thermometer it should be between 161 & 165. If so, bring it inside and allow it to rest for 10 – 30 minutes before carving. (The internal temperature will climb a few more degrees, so it’s ok if it isn’t exactly 165 when it is removed from the oil.

If your oil was too hot (this happened to us when we didn’t know our thermometer was off due to sword fighting children), the skin may be very dark. Don’t worry, the meat should still be fine, if you removed it from the oil when it was cooked.

Turn the propane off and ensure no one will disturb the oil as it cools before leaving it unattended.

Carve and enjoy.


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3 thoughts on “Countdown to Turkey Day 2009: Fried Turkey Talk”

    • This year we're doing a few. Tim did two the day we had everyone over and there was only a lb or so of meat left over. I have two more thawing out to fry and his job gives us a turkey every year, too. All of this meat will be frozen.

  1. Just found your blog….great stuff. I'm going to "give" it to my son and new daughter-in-law when they get married (or with a shower gift?) this summer!! They both are clueless about housekeeping, cooking, etc.

    My dughter is a vegetarian and has been asked to bring something for Thanksgiving that she can eat and that will provide a taste of something good and different than the usual Turkey-day fare. We have'nt come up with anything "spectacular" but I thought I would try your readers. Any suggestions? She is a pretty good cook, so it doesn't have to be super easy, just needs to taste great! Thanks. Oh, I posted this under a different heading also. Not used to the commenting part of some blogs! Sorry.


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