Monday, November 7, 2011 @ 11:11 AM

Tailgating is an art. It can be low key, it can be fancy and over the top. But simple or fancy we are all looking for anything to make this art run as smoothly & easily as possible. This is an homage to all those dedicated fans out there. Whether you’re a race fan, college team fan, pro team fan or you’re just looking for a nice day at the beach. We salute you! So pop the tailgate on the back of your truck and lets get cooking!

The history of tailgating goes all the way back to Ancient Rome. Food and wine were sold outside of the Colosseum for gladiator events and chariot races. There was also food & drink served at jousting tournaments in medieval Europe.
Tailgating has now become an American phenomenon tracing it’s roots back to The Battle of Bull Run in1861 where some Union supporters brought picnic baskets out to watch the first battle of the Civil War. The first college football game ever played in America was also host to tailgating with Rutgers & Princeton playing against each other while people grilled fish & wild game. When Harvard & Yale played against each other, the walk from the train to the field was so long, the people brought picnic lunches with them. Now in the 21st century, tailgating is in full swing. More than 20 million Americans tailgate every year. Some stadiums and race tracks even have a special areas just for tailgaters.

The Weather Channel has recently been focusing on many different tailgating groups. They actually had one program totally devoted to what college football teams that they thought had the best set of tailgaters. There were even some tailgaters that come by boat as their stadium is located right on the water. They tie all of the boats together and just start tailgating!!

The Weather Channel also likes to focus on food choices of tailgaters. My favorites are always the groups that prefer to “eat the competition”. In other words, say the team is playing against Baltimore…they make crab cakes. If they play against a New England team they make lobster rolls or have a New England lobster boil that they steamed in their turkey fryer. Therefore essentially eating the competition before the game even starts.

Tailgating is not just confined to the college or pro football stadium parking lot. It can be a day at the beach or an afternoon in the park. Baseball fans, horse racing fans & concert goers are all potential tailgaters. The Kentucky Derby has turned into a major tailgating venue with pomp & circumstance, seer sucker suits & big hats. And then, there were The Parrotheads. Jimmy Buffett fans have more generators to power blenders than any other tailgaters I know. And lest we not forget The Grateful Dead fans that not only went to one concert, but followed The Dead around the country for a whole tour. I bet there were some very interesting food choices along the road when it came to months of traveling.

That being said, tailgating is obviously not confined to just a single event or day. Some sports fans just come to watch the game and sometimes leave early to beat the traffic if the score is not going their way. Race fans are devotees. They come and stay for days, sometimes even weeks during Speed Week. That’s a lot of food to plan for and race fans are serious about their food. This is not just NASCAR fans either. There are lots of drag racing & road course fans out there. Many of these venues are weekend long events. Some people show up on Thursday & don’t leave until Monday morning after breakfast, which is sometimes the last great tailgate. All of the leftovers and the last of the eggs and bacon come out and are still made into a culinary masterpiece.

The perfect piece of equipment, your latest perfected recipe, the coolest new game can set you apart from the rest of the lot. So many set ups and different things to cook. For some people the food is as important as the game. Some people don’t even go in to watch the event. They stay outside for the party and watch the game on TV. Any good tailgate is not just burgers and dogs. Brats, ribs, chili, steak, deep fried turkey, pork loin, beer can chicken are many favorites. The gadgets that go along with all that food are phenomenal too. Not just grills. Coolers, blenders, kegorators, deep fryers, crock-pots, BBQ smokers, even woks. Tents, couches, easy chairs, lawn games are all common place at a tailgate. There are even highly elaborate homemade & professionally made tailgate trailers with cooking equipment, TV’s & sound systems included.

Part of the art of a good tailgate party comes from proper planning and knowing your grill, BBQ smoker, and cooking equipment. Knowing how many people your cooking for is helpful in pre planning your shopping list(and a little extra never hurts.) Get to know your grill and cooking equipment. Use it at home. Get used to your hot spots and cooking zones. Don’t try out a deep fryer for the first time at the track! When you transport your grill, if you don’t have an enclosed trailer to put it in, put it right behind the cab of your truck with the hinged side of the lid to the backside of the cab. Tie it securely! If you loose your lid, your dead in the water.

Some important things to remember about tailgating is having the right stuff you need to make your life easier. Of course you don’t always need everything but if you can get yourself a big plastic bin and fill it with some of these items you’ll be ready to roll at a moments notice. Just always remember to replenish.

•    Grill tools & can opener
•    Meat Thermometer
•    Sharp Knife & Serving Spoons
•    Plastic utensils to eat with
•    Aluminum foil & baggies
•    Salt, Pepper, Your Favorite Seasonings & Rubs
•    Trash Bags
•    Paper Towels(Cloth towels & wash cloths)
•    Stuff to eat off of, Paper or Plastic Plates, Bowls, Whatever

A jug of water is nice to have to clean your hands with. (Soap is good too.) Foil pans are handy for all sorts of things:cooking, storing, serving & leftovers. Whatever your cooking apparatus, it never hurts to have extra fuel. . . propane, charcoal, wood chips. A fire extinguisher is a great thing to bring along & a squirt bottle for small flare ups. Cutting boards are good, but paper plates make nice clean cutting surfaces. Condiments, olive oil, non-stick cooking spray, onions & garlic are necessity. A table to cut up stuff on and set the food on when its done is always a nice option. A fold up chair or two is great to have too when your taking a break from cooking or after the game when your waiting for the parking lot to clear out a little. Extra beer is always plus. . . it’s a great bartering tool if you forgot something at home. ALWAYS make sure you have a good cooler & PLENTY of ice! Lastly. . . NEVER leave your grill or fryer unattended besides the obvious safety reasons your food can get ruined in a heartbeat! PS…use sober, common sense while cooking.

So, yes, tailgating is an art. It doesn’t matter who you’re routing for either. A great tailgate can bring everyone together. But tailgating is still about one upping your neighbor. (Some people even have cooking competitions right at the venue they are at. I was at a weekend long drag racing competition and a whole group of people came just to have a rib cooking competition). It’s never about putting anyone down. It’s the pride of knowing you’re better. From simple to elaborate, regional favorites like Philly Cheese Steak & Buffalo wings, or just showing off, like grilled tequila & chipotle rubbed butterflied leg of lamb. Deep frying turkey for the Thanksgiving Day game and bringing all of the fixings. . From your tailgate bed or your buddy’s RV. Breakfast to dessert with appetizers & dinner in between, beer to blender drinks. Tailgating is about fun times and making memories. So have fun, enjoy yourself & eat hearty!

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Friday, November 4, 2011 @ 10:11 AM

A question has come through from a reader that should be addressed. Gloria wanted to know how many turkeys she could cook in her frying oil without changing the oil.

If you are deep frying in one cooking session, you can cook as much, or as many items, turkeys, fries, or wings as you want. As long as you are draining everything properly and not just removing he food and dumping it in a food tray…you should have enough oil to get you through that session without having to add more. I had one person tell me that they were vending French fries and going through gallons and gallons of oil at every venue. They were not taking the time to tap the fryer baskets together and drain for a few seconds to return excess oil back into the fryer compartment. It sounded like a very expensive project with not much in pocket return. I am hoping that they took my advice and started trying to save the excess that they were normally just throwing into a waiting hopper.

If you are speaking of more than one day, when your turkey fryer , or other outdoor propane deep fryer,  is not in use, filter the cooled oil into storage containers. I use a strainer, funnel, and coffee filters. Tightly seal the containers. Store in a cool and preferably darkened space, like a closet. Just make sure the oil reaches proper temps. when starting up again.

You don’t have to strain the oil of debris after every use but it is suggested to do so to keep the oil clean and longer lasting. Besides, the debris is what will burn and give the oil an acrid flavoring.

As long as your oil does not take on a strong odor, an off coloring, or a burnt flavor you can continue using the oil.

Keep in mind that oil does degrade after every use. The smoke point will get lower and lower after every use. When you deep fry you need an oil with a high smoke point because you need to keep that constant high temperature for extended periods of time. When you use it, it oxidizes when in contact with the air. This reduces the content of beneficial fats, so it loses a little of it’s purity with every use. Besides the oil will take on some impurities from the food you are deep frying as well . (Anybody that has ever deep fried fish in oil knows this to be true). The impurities lower the cooking temperature. All in all, it depends on what you cook and how much you cook in that session, as to how much work is left in the oil. Keep an eye on your temps. If you get to a point on say the  fourth use of just cooking french fries for dinner (that number is just an example) and you see that your oil is starting to smoke at a lower temp. than it should be, say 300 degrees F, then it is time to get rid of the oil and start fresh. If you cooked 20 turkeys in one day, the second time that you have a major frying session may be your oil’s last use.

So any way,Gloria, in one day, you can deep fry as many turkeys as you want until you are done. Say you are cooking 20 turkeys in one day…just make sure you have some extra frying oil on hand in case you do need to add some to the pot.

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Monday, October 31, 2011 @ 09:10 PM

When you are getting ready to deep fry a turkey, whether it is Thanksgiving, some other holiday, or just an any day, you want to make sure that you are prepared. There is a little bit more to it than just having a turkey fryer, (stock pot and outdoor propane cooker), frying oil, and a turkey. You need to be physically, mentally, and materially prepared.

First things first. If you have never fried a turkey before, read your manual before you begin. Next, use the fryer before the big day. In fact, use it more than once if you can.  Even if you are just boiling water to start, this will help you get used to the nuances of your new outdoor propane deep fryer. This will give a chance to figure out the heat regulator and how to maintain a constant temperature.

When purchasing a turkey for your fryer, you want to make sure that you do not buy too large of a turkey for the size of your stock pot. There may be a suggested guideline in your manual, but here are some suggested sizes:

24 qt. fryer pot- 8-10 lb. turkey

30 qt. fryer pot – 10-12 lb. turkey

36 qt. fryer pot – 12-14 lb. turkey

42 qt. fryer pot – 15-18 lb. turkey

Buying the oil for your fryer may be seem expensive at first, but if you filter, strain, and store your used oil properly it can be used again.

To give you a rough idea, some typical oil amounts are:
26-Qt. – – – – – 2.75 Gallons
30-Qt. – – – – – – – – 3 Gallons
34-Qt. – – – – – – – – 4 Gallons

You want an oil with a high smoke point as you will be keeping your temperature around 350 degrees F for a long period of time. (For info. on smoke points see Frying Oil). Mixing different types of frying oils is not recommended as different oils have different smoke points. Buy what is in your price range but make sure it has a high smoke point.

Decide if you are going to use an injection marinade or rub or both on your bird. There are many recipes out there on the world wide web, but you can always buy a pre-made injection kit, like The Butterball Turkey Seasoning Kit manufactured for Masterbuilt. Inject your thawed bird the night before or early morning. Make sure the turkey is dry of marinade drippings.

Make sure you have enough LP gas. Having a backup propane tank is always a great idea. It is not like it is going to bad, or won’t eventually get used. You do not want to be in the middle of deep frying a turkey and run out of gas.

Get yourself some protective clothing. A pair of good, long, high temperature gloves is recommended. Protective eye wear is an option. Some goggles against spit and splatter is something to keep in mind. Pants, sleeves, and shoes are highly recommended as well.

Get yourself an all purpose fire extinguisher. You never know when you might need one anyway. Hopefully you will never need to use it.

Have a bucket of sand ready to use.Remember: oil & water don’t mix. A hose will make things worse if you have a flare up.

Make sure that your thermometers are working properly.

Be sure that you have a perfect spot to place your fryer. Don’t wait until Thanksgiving Day and find that you have no stable, level surface to cook on. This should be a place well away from any combustible materials, like bushes, but also to include your wooden deck or in your garage. These traditional turkey fryers are meant for outdoors, and not on your patio 3 feet from your house. If it is raining or snowing it is NOT an option to deep fry in your garage. You are only looking for trouble if you go there.

Have a little table set up to keep everything handy: your meat thermometer, gloves, goggles, fire extinguisher, etc.

If there is wind on the day that you are frying, position your tank on the upside of the wind. You don’t want the heat from the flames of the jet cooker blowing right at your propane tank.

Make sure that someone is able to keep the kids and the dog occupied. Let them play inside or just well away from the hot cooker.

Being physically prepared is helpful. If you do not think that you are physically capable of slowly and carefully raising and lowering a 15 lb turkey into a vat of hot oil, then get a lift bar. A lift bar can be slid through the grab hook and two people can do the raising and lowering.

Lastly, you want to be mentally prepared. Relax, but take care. Be sober. Use common sense. Don’t let any drunken friends bully you and try to tell you what to do or not to do. In fact, use the common sense to tell them that they should be out playing with the kids and the dog and you’ll call when the foods ready.

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Thursday, October 27, 2011 @ 10:10 AM

Butterball has teamed up with Masterbuilt again and made a turkey seasoning kit. It can be used with other meats as well but has been manufactured for Masterbuilt with their electric turkey fryers in mind. Each kit comes with a 16 oz. container of a Buttery Creole Marinade, a container of Butterball Cajun dry rub spice, and a 1 oz. seasoning injector.

This kit has everything that you need for the perfect turkey, whether it is deep fried, grilled, or smoked. Can also be used with beef or pork. Gives you the option of injecting seasonings, rubbing on seasonings, or doing both for a great bang of flavor. You could technically even turn the rub into an injection seasoning by mixing with orange juice and making a liquid solution. That would put some kick in your bird! Besides the orange juice is acidic and will act as a natural tenderizer.

Just 3 easy steps and you have wonderful flavor, both inside and out; season, fry, grill, or smoke, then eat!

For tips on injecting your turkey for deep check out our past blog post: How to Inject a Turkey Before Deep Frying.

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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


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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Tuesday, October 25, 2011 @ 08:10 AM

As the lesson on turkey fryers comes to a close, we now come to the safer fryer. These are larger outdoor propane deep fryers that you can fry many things, but if so inclined, you can deep fry a turkey. Two companies that manufacture these type of fryers are R & V Works who make the Cajun Fryer, and Bayou Classic that make the Bayou Fryer. Both are quite similar in design, a V shaped bottom with a squared cooking compartment made of steel.

What makes these fryers safer, is that unlike the open exposed flame and pot of bubbling oil of a traditional turkey fryer, these units have a self contained flame. The ignition port is usually at the side or the back of the unit. The flames run through the oil in the cooking compartment in self contained metal tubes. As the metal heats, it in turn heats the frying oil. And, yes it does get hot enough to heat the oil to deep fry anything you want, even a whole turkey. Any spillage, bubbling oil or splash back that may occur would come out of the front of the unit, not down the side, or out of the back, therefore no hot oil and flame should ever come in contact. Thus, a safer fryer.

The V shaped bottom helps to keep the oil fresher longer. The oil below the tubes tends to stay much cooler. Any food particles that may fall to the bottom are not in hot, scorching oil. The food particles won’t burn, therefore keeping the oil from getting that burned carbon flavor.

You can recoup the investment of your cooking oil in no time, by filtering your oil after about every 5 uses. All of the units come with a drain valve to aid in this purpose. A piece of radiator hose from the auto parts store and an appropriate fitting attached, will help you filter your cooled oil back into the original containers, allowing you to strain out any food particles as well. If you don’t have a proper oil filtering and straining system, take your time with a funnel and a coffee filter and you are good to go. If you are tailgating, and don’t have time to let everything cool down properly, the use of metal Jerry cans can aid in this purpose. Before you go into the football game, carefully drain the hot oil into metal Jerry cans and place them off to the side or away. This will also help the deep fryer to cool down quicker so that people walking through the parking lot to get into the stadium will not be bumping into a hot metal fryer.

The safer fryers come in many sizes, from 2 1/2 gallon all the way up to a large 17 gallon fryer that is technically two 8 1/2 gallon fryers welded together on one stand. You can not cook a whole Thanksgiving bird in a 2 1/2 gallon unit though. Any unit ranging 6 gallons and up though, would be perfect for turkey. There are even specially modified frying baskets that help fit a turkey into a 6 gallon Cajun Fryer or larger.

If you love deep fried turkey, but don’t want to deep fry a bird in the house in a counter top deep fryer, or have a roasted turkey in an oil-less “turkey fryer”, and are still leery of the conventional turkey fryer, than a safer fryer is for you. You can deep fry everything from apple fritters to zeppoles in these fryers. Great for tailgate parties, camping, a Friday night fish fry at the church, or even for starting up a mobile catering business. Just spray down the inside of the unit with some spray cooking oil when not in use put a cover on it and store it in the garage or shed.

Deep fried turkey has become an American passion. If you have been thinking about getting a turkey fryer, do your research before you decide what fryer is right for you. You don’t just have to buy a traditional turkey fryer. There are lots of different options out there. Become informed and whatever you do go with, remember to read your manual, follow the directions, be safe, and use sober, common sense.

PS. Always remember to have an extra tank of propane on hand. You don’t want to run out in the middle of deep frying your Thanksgiving dinner!!

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Monday, October 24, 2011 @ 10:10 AM

So, now we get to the traditional turkey fryer. A stock pot, a jet cooker, and a propane tank. Simple, yet many people are frightened by them.

As long as you read the instructions, follow what they say, use sober, common sense, and have a bucket of sand and/or an all purpose fire extinguisher handy, everything should be fine. Oil and water don’t mix!! There is no need to be a hero either. If you find yourself in a situation that is out of your hands, call the local fire department.

Reading about other peoples bad experiences with traditional outdoor propane deep fryers can be good, but can also be bad. If you read them in order to find out what not to do, that is fine. But if you read them and they just make you more opposed to cooking this way, then you will want to go with a safer outdoor propane fryer, or go oil less.

As long as you follow certain guidelines, you can have a perfect, crispy, & juicy fried turkey in about a third of the the time it takes to roast the same size bird in your oven. Imagine having a fully cooked 14 lb. turkey in less than an hour as compared to taking more than 4 hours to roast the same bird.

Safety is the main thing with this style of fryer. It must be used outdoors, and not inside of your garage or on your wooden deck right next to your house. You want the unit away from buildings and combustible materials.

It should be placed on a sturdy level section of ground or concrete.

You want a good distance between your propane tank and your cooker. But you also want to make sure that the hose between the tank and the cooker are not in a walk through area.

Make sure that the kids, your buddies and the dog all have some place else to play. That goes for after you are done cooking as well. It will take quite a while for the frying oil to cool down once you are done.

If  there is any wind the day you are cooking, place your LP gas on the upside of the wind so that the heat of the burner is blowing in the opposite direction.

Make sure you are properly dressed. You want long sleeves, shoes, and pants. Shorts and flip flops are not a great idea here. You also want to have on a pair of protective gloves, preferably ones that can handle high temps. Safety goggles are not a bad idea either.

You want an oil with a high smoke point. For more on smoke point and cooking oils, see our past blog on Frying Oils.

Having all of your equipment right on hand is important. You want to have your thermometer to constantly monitor your temp. A conventional turkey fryer does not have a temperature gauge that will shut off when it reaches the desired temperature. It does not a safety shut off, or breakaway cord like a counter top deep fryer. You must constantly monitor an outdoor propane deep fat fryer. DO NOT EVER LEAVE THE FRYER UNATTENDED. Have your lifting hooks and everything right where you can get at them. If possible, have a friend that can assist in raising and lowering your turkey into the hot oil.

Make sure your poultry is fully thawed!!! Ice crystals and hot oil do not mix!

I like to start at about 400 degrees. Even though your bird should be at room temp. for about an hour before you fry it, the oil temp. is still going to drop down. Starting a little higher than optimum temp. will help speed temp. recovery time. When the oil has reached optimum temp. you want to raise and lower the bird into the hot oil just like a dunking tea bag. The oil will spit and bubble at this point. So take your time getting the turkey settled in before placing the lid on the unit. If you are worried about hot oil and flames coming in contact, shut the burner off while you are lowering the turkey into the pot. Once everything has settled, immediately turn your burner back on. Remember to monitor your temps. You don’t want the temperature too low, or too high.

Remember to let the unit cool before attempting cool filter and store your oil for future use.

Now, I can never stress the fact enough that a traditional turkey fryer is the perfect piece of outdoor cooking equipment for tailgaters, campers, and even the backyard social butterfly.

This unit not only deep fries. You can steam, boil, and stew with it. You can steam corn on the cob while you are grilling steaks in your back yard. You can have a whole Low Country Boil or New England Style Clam Bake at the beach. You can make beef stew for that cold weather tailgate, or a huge pot of hot chocolate, hot cider or mulled wine. Deep fry a huge mess of Buffalo wings for the Superbowl. Have a Friday Night Fish Fry at church. You can even make corned beef and cabbage for a Half Way to St. Patrick’s Day party at your fire department or in the stadium parking lot at a Notre Dame game. Menu options are endless.This kind of cooking equipment is a tailgater’s best friend.

And that’s not all. There are still at least 100 more applications that a turkey fryer can fit into. You can use them to can beets at harvest time. You can cook down maple sap to make syrup in the spring. Tie die shirts with the kids on a summer afternoon. There is no reason to pack your fryer away just because Thanksgiving is over.

As I have said before, if you are frightened of these wonderful cooking apparatuses due to past horror stories, then this cooker may not be for you. But, if you are willing to get out there and experiment, the options of this versatile piece of cooking equipment are astounding.

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Sunday, October 23, 2011 @ 12:10 PM

Moving on to the great outdoors. There are a few different types of outdoor turkey fryers. Some are electric, some are propane. Some that are traditional deep fat turkey fryers, and some that are oil free or oil less “turkey fryers“.

I wanted to touch upon the later two as they are made by very respectable companies. They are safe, easy and cook great. The thing is, is that they really are not deep fryers. They technically roast the bird using radiant heat or infrared heat.

Some of these units actually have the option of adding wood chips for a smokey flavor.

A few of the upsides here are less mess, easier clean up, less of a fire hazard, other cooking options, etc.

Obviously, you have a virtually splatter free cooking unit, as you have no oil to spit, pop, or boil over. This makes clean up much easier as you do not have to wait for frying oil to cool down. You don’t have oil to filter and store. You still need to wait for the unit to cool down before clean up and storage, but this will take considerably less time than a unit full of hot oil. Some of the pieces of these units are dish washer safe, therefore also saving time. Though, certain parts must be hand cleaned and should never be submerged in water.

These units are  safer as there is no hot oil that can come in contact with open flame, which could pose a potential fire hazard. Safety precautions should still be taken though. No pets or kids, of any age, running around the unit all willy nilly. Remember that you still have  either an electric cord or a propane tank hooked to a hot container that is full of hot food. The sides of the unit will be hot. Make sure that you have appropriate protective gloves and your handling equipment on hand. Even though there is less of a potential for fire, etc, you should still keep a constant eye on any outdoor cooking equipment.

Using no oil is a healthier option compared to deep fried foods. Less calories and no oil, but still having crispy yet juicy turkey is a definite up point.

Another positive point to these units, as compared to a conventional turkey fryer, is you can use seasoning rubs. You can still use injectable seasonings, but rubs that would normally boil right off in hot frying oil, will now be a tasty and crispy part of the outside of your bird or other meats and vegetables that can be roasted in these units.

Now for the down sides. As I said, these units do not technically deep fry. You cannot make traditional french fries or doughnuts in an infrared cooker. You can smoke food but you cannot out and out deep fry. A traditional turkey fryer, you can also boil, steam and stew. This is not an option here.

These units are portable enough, especially the propane units, but if you are tailgating or camping with an electric unit, having a generator is a must. You can roast and smoke all sorts of meats and vegetables in one of these oil less fryers, which is nice for different menu options at the stadium or at a campground get together. But having a traditional fryer that has a stock pot that you can stew chili in, steam corn and lobster in, or deep fry chicken wings is a much more versatile piece of cooking equipment for people that use outdoor cooking equipment all the time.

These radiant heating units are great. They are cleaner and safer than traditional turkey fryers. The infrared heat seals in moisture for crispy, juicy, less fattening and flavorful food. If you have been looking for a turkey fryer for the holidays, but been hesitant to buy for safety issues, than this may be an option for you.

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Saturday, October 22, 2011 @ 06:10 AM

I would like to talk more about  indoor counter top fryers for deep frying turkey.

Masterbulit and Butterball have teamed up together to create some awesome indoor electric turkey fryers.  They state them to be the best performing, most convenient, electric turkey fryers that are indoor safe.

One counter top unit will allow you to cook up to a 14 pound turkey. The other, The Digital Electric Turkey Fryer XL can deep fry up to a 20 pound bird. Both units  using one third less frying oil than conventional turkey fryers, making them more cost effective as well.  You can use 2 gallons of oil in these fryers, where you need 3-5 gallons of oil for an outdoor propane deep fryer.

A tap drain has been added to help make clean up quicker and easier. Many counter top fryers do not come with a drain valve. This makes it more convenient to filter and store your cooled frying oil, so that you can use it again. Also a money saver.

These electric fryers come with a somewhat turkey shaped aluminum cooking basket with a handy drain clip and a double hooked lift handle.

A folding stainless steel lid that has a window so that you can peek inside is easily removable for dish washer cleaning. Snaps right back on when your done.

There is a double porcelain coated inner pot.

The Masterbuilt Butterball Turkey Fryers don’t just fry turkey either. They are versatile enough to fry  a variety of your favorite foods like doughnuts, French fries, onion rings, Buffalo wings, mozzarella sticks, and more. And that’s not all! You can boil and steam with these counter top appliances too.

Both units have a  user-friendly control panel that consists of a digital timer, a red “power” light, a green “ready” light, and a simple control knob for adjusting the thermostat up to 375 degrees F.

The companies have come up with the ideal storage compartment. You have no idea how many people tell me that when they get their units back out after not using them for a while, they seem to have lost the cord. Masterbuilt has made a built in storage compartment right on these units to store that cord, so that you never loose it again. (The rest is up to you…you still have to remember to put the break away cord in there, after the unit has cooled!) This is also the place to store the spigot for your drain valve. (You want to make sure that your valve is in the OFF position before removing the safety cap. When done draining your cooled oil or water turn the valve back to OFF and replace the safety cap.)

Butterball & Masterbuilt have really taken some time and thought into putting this style of counter top deep fryer together. They have put safety, efficiency and economic value into the equation. If there were ever two companies that could put together a better turkey fryer, I can’t think of any better. If an indoor electric turkey fryer is the way that you decide to go, this is a definite area that you should research further.

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Friday, October 21, 2011 @ 12:10 PM

So as I said there are many different kinds of items on the market for turkey frying time.

Let’s start with the indoor counter top electric deep fryer.

Counter top deep fryers that are of a size to deep fry turkey, are usually quite versatile. Just like a traditional outdoor propane turkey fryer, you can do more than just deep fry. You can typically boil and steam with these units as well.

A turkey of about 12 to 14 pounds can be deep fried in some of the larger counter top units.

Unlike an outdoor turkey fryer, there are more safety features with counter top fryers. Most of them have a temperature gauge with a light to let you know when your optimum temperature has been reached. Usually if the appliance overheats it will automatically shut off. And all counter top fryers come equipped with a breakaway safety cord.

It is not recommended to use an indoor electric deep fryer outdoors, but if you prefer not to deep fry in the house, use the fryer in a garage or on a covered porch. Indoor units do not like to be exposed to rain. They also need to be on a sturdy, level surface.

The use of extension cords is not recommended either, due to possible entanglement in the cord which would cause safety hazards. It could also cause the unit to not perform properly.

On the down side, an outdoor propane deep fryer will heat to optimum temperature quicker than the indoor electric fryer. A propane unit with a jet cooker can heat your stock pot of frying oil to temp. in about 20 minutes. A counter top unit can take up to 55 minutes.

Another con of counter top fryers that are large enough to fry a turkey, they do take up counter space. Unless your kitchen is huge this is not an appliance that you can store on your counter all the time. Once the unit and oil are cooled, you need to strain the oil, clean the pot and put the unit away.

As with all deep fryers, indoor or outdoor, electric or propane, NEVER leave your fryer unattended! Take proper safety precautions. Read the manufacturer’s instruction booklet. Wear suitable clothing and proper pot holders.

It never hurts to have an all purpose fire extinguisher on hand, baking soda, and/or a bucket of sand. Remember water and oil do not mix.

Tomorrow we will expand upon counter top deep fryers by delving into the awesome new world that Masterbuilt and Butterball have made together, by creating a new and innovative way to deep fry turkeys using less oil.

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