How to Deep-Fry a Turkey Without Killing Yourself
There are few things quite so American as fried food and Thanksgiving dinner. Have the best of both worlds by deep-frying your Thanksgiving turkey.
Deep-frying a turkey is pretty simple, but also very dangerous. Hot oil and human flesh are not a good combination, and splattering oil near an open flame can lead to an epic fire, so proceed with caution. Pay close attention to these tips or else this could happen.
What You’ll Need
• A small to medium sized turkey: Something less than 18 pounds works best, because if you use anything larger you’ll probably burn the skin before you cook the bird (and perfectly fried turkey skin is the best part).
• A very large stockpot: You’ll need a pot big enough to completely submerge the turkey, generally something with a capacity of 40 to 50 quarts.
• A fry basket or turkey brace: The brace should be big enough to hold the bird, but small enough to fit inside the pot. The brace also needs a handle so you can lift the turkey out of the pot.
• An outdoor burner: Don’t even think about doing this indoors.
• Thermometers: It’s good to have an oil thermometer and a meat thermometer. Extra points if it’s infrared.
• Oil. Lots of oil: You’re submerging the bird, so buy a large container of peanut or sunflower oil (or any oil with a high smoking point).
• Protective gloves/goggles/apron: Cover up any exposed skin, or else you could end up in the hospital instead of the kitchen.
• (Optional) turkey fryer: If you don’t have any of the necessary supplies, you can pay for convenience and buy a turkey frying set from a cooking hardware or camping store.
First, completely thaw your turkey. This is important. Even a small amount of ice or water will make the hot oil bubble up and splash everywhere.
Remove the neck and giblets, and the pop-up thermometer stuck in the bird. Put the turkey on the turkey brace with its shoulders facing down. The handle of the brace should stick out above the legs so you can pull the turkey out of the pot without reaching into the oil.
Find a flat, stable surface outside on which to place your burner. Make sure the area is dry and well ventilated with nothing flammable around. It’s not a good idea to cook on a wood deck because, you know, wood tends to burn. Also, the oil might splash and stain.
Determine how much oil you need by doing a displacement measurement (Archimedes would be proud). Fill your pot with water and fully immerse your turkey. Next, remove the turkey and note where the water level falls to. This is about how much oil you’ll need.
Season the turkey, make absolutely sure it’s dry, and you’re ready to start cooking.
Ideally, deep-frying a turkey is a two-person job. Recruit a culinary companion and ensure at least one person is always watching the pot to ensure it isn’t smoking or boiling over.
To get started, fill your pot with oil to the point you noted during the displacement measurement. Light your burner and heat the oil to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (175 C˚).
Put on your protective gear, and using a metal hook, lift your turkey in its brace. Then, lower it slowly into the hot oil. For safety, turn off the flame before lowering the turkey. The oil will react violently even if the turkey is completely dry, causing the bubbling oil will splash around. You don’t want any hitting you or a flame. Lowering the turkey slowly minimizes the bubbling and splashing. Do not drop the turkey into the hot oil or there will be chaos.
There. The hard part is done. Light the burner and set a timer. Generally, it takes three to four minutes per pound to cook the turkey. A 15-pound turkey will cook in around 45 minutes.
After the allotted time, check the bird to see if it is an even golden brown color. If it looks thoroughly cooked, take it out and check the internal temperature with the meat thermometer. The meat should be 165-170 degrees Fahrenheit in the breast and 175-180 degrees in the thigh. If it passes these requirements let the turkey cool, remove the brace, and enjoy your feast.
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