The Ins and Outs of Deep Frying a Turkey

Wednesday, October 26, 2011 @ 10:10 AM

Using a Bayou Classic turkey fryer or any traditional turkey fryer at Thanksgiving can cut your cooking time down immensely. Imagine taking a 14 lb. bird and having to roast it for almost 5 hours at 20 mins. perpound. Take that same bird, stick it in a deep fryer with the oil at 350 degrees F for 3 mins. per pound, plus an extra 5 mins at the end for good measure, and your Thanksgiving dinner is ready in less than an hour. There are always proper safety measures that you want to take, like reading your manual. Wear appropriate clothing, shoes, and have protective gloves. Here are a few other tips to make your holiday meal a

success.

First let’s use the following information to determine the proper size turkey to buy for your fryer’s stock pot size.

Estimate cooking time by the formula of 3 minutes per pound of turkey. So if you have a 10 lb. turkey you will fry it for 30 mins. plus add an extra 5 mins. at the end.

What kind of oil should you buy? You want an oil with a high smoke point. That means an oil that is going to hold a constant high temperature with out hitting the point that it starts to smoke and then hit flash point. Refined peanut oil has a high smoke point, 450 degrees F. Some people are allergic to peanut oil, though I heard that the more refined the more hypo-allergenic, but to be on the safe side, if you don’t know for sure, get some other form of vegetable oil. Besides peanut oil can be expensive. Corn oil and high oleic canola oil are more readily available, have a good smoke point, and are less expensive than peanut oil.

How much oil should you use? Measuring the oil is quite simple. Take the completely thawed bird, place it in the stock pot. Fill the pot with water to the fill line. Place the bird in the perforated basket or on the poultry rack that you will be using. Place everything in the pot. Fill your stock pot with water until the bird is covered, plus a LITTLE extra. Remove the turkey and rack or basket. Mark your water line. This is how much oil to use. Dry the pot and basket completely before adding the oil.

Make sure your fryer is sturdy, level ground or concrete, not in your garage or covered wooden deck, away from combustible materials. If windy, place your propane tank upwards of the wind, so that the flame is blowing away from the LP gas.

Make sure your cooker will not be in a walk through area.

Make sure the kids, the dog, and any possibly non-sober guests have somewhere else to play!

While the frying oil is heating up, dry your turkey completely. Please make sure your turkey is properly thawed. Cooking times may vary if your poultry has not been properly thawed. Rule of thumb is to get the bird to room temp. an hour prior to deep frying. Sometimes a cold or frozen spot in a joint or deep in the turkey breast won’t allow that section to cook  properly. Besides ice crystals left on the bird can cause a huge boil over and flare up.

Before you insert your turkey in the pot, make sure that your thermometer is working properly. Make sure you have all your tools handy in close reach. NEVER LEAVE THE DEEP FRYER UNATTENDED! Handy tools should include a

meat thermometer, a bucket of sand and/or an all purpose fire extinguisher. No hoses! Hot oil and water don’t mix.

Clean and dry poultry inside & out. Remove giblets and neck, and trim away all excess fat and skin.(This stuff makes good gravy stock. Set it to boil, then simmer while the turkey is frying. While the turkey cools, strain the liquid from the giblets, add some water and corn starch. Heat and stir until thickened. Instant turkey gravy.) Make sure opening around the neck cavity is wide and clear. Make a 1-inch cut in the skin at the leg-thigh joints. This allows oil to drain when the turkey is done.
Inject your bird with seasonings if you prefer. Place your turkey in a roasting pan. A trick that I learned from “The BBQ Dr.” is to cover your bird with plastic wrap. This will keep the marinade from splashing back at you. Fill your seasoning injector. Pierce right through the plastic wrap into the turkey. The important thing to remember is to inject the turkey all over. Put a little in each hole.  Make sure you distribute the injection evenly so you don’t get pockets of the marinade. Push plunger down slowly while pulling injector out of meat to give even distribution of seasoning. Inject into various points on the breast, thighs, and drumstick. Even do the wings.  Flip your bird over, cover with plastic wrap, and inject the bottom side as well. There are portions of the breast that you may have missed by just injecting from the top side. Many people do the injection process the night before or early morning of. Some people like to use rubs as well, but much of the rub will come off during the cooking process, that is why injected seasonings are preferred. When using a dry powder marinade, mix with orange juice instead of water. The acidity in the orange juice enhances the marinade, plus it acts as a meat tenderizer. Wipe off any marinade they may have run with paper towels. You want to make sure that your turkey is nice and dry before lowering it into the hot frying oil.

Place turkey upside down on rack, with legs facing up. Remember, poultry legs facing up.  Put your measured frying oil into the pot. Attach thermometer to the top edge, making sure the stem of the thermometer is in the oil at least one inch… very important! When the oil is 350 degrees to 375°F it is time to place the turkey in the pot. Depending on the amount of oil used & weather conditions, it may take from 15 to 25 minutes for the oil to reach 350°F-375°F. You want to start the temp. a little higher than the optimum of 350 because your oil will drop in temp when you add the bird. Attach the grab hook to the top loop of the rack. Wearing protective gloves, very slowly & carefully lower poultry into pot. Almost like steeping a tea bag. The oil will spit and bubble at this point. Take your time until you are able to settle the turkey to the bottom without creating a severe boil over. It may take 60-90 seconds to completely lower poultry into the oil! If you feel more comfortable using two people for this process, get yourself a lift bar that two people can hold at the same time. Also, if you are afraid of a boil over and grease fire, just at the time of insertion, shut off the burner, slowly tea bag your turkey into the oil. When all is settled, relight the burner.

Now monitor your temp. As I said the oil temp. will drop a bit. Get it back to 350. You want to maintain that temp. as close as possible. Control frying temperature by turning the valve on the hose & regulator assembly. Reduce the flame to maintain a constant. PS: After passing 450°F, cooking oil can heat up rapidly to its flashpoint of spontaneous combustion, which is a serious grease fire! Therefore, never leave cooker unattended! Constantly monitor your thermometer. When the bird is done, turn the cooker off at the tank. Leaving pot on cooker, place grab hook through top loop of the rack and very carefully remove rack, with your turkey, from pot. Place rack with poultry on absorbent paper and allow to drain for few minutes, then remove from basket or rack and place on a platter to cool before carving. As I said, now is a great time to thicken the gravy and finish up your side dishes.

One last thing to keep in mind is your propane. Have an extra tank handy just in case. You do not want to run out halfway through a deep frying session.

Have fun, be safe. Use sober, common sense and you will have a Thanksgiving dinner to rival all your past ones.

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