Deep frying a turkey is a southern tradition that is now popular all over the country. You can deep fry almost any roast turkey recipe. Deep frying a turkey is faster than traditional oven roasting and results in a bird that has a crispy skin and moist meat. If you decide to fry your turkey this Thanksgiving (or anytime), following the tips below will help you to create a delicious meal, while also keeping everyone involved safe.
- Ensure that you have a safe location to cook. Never deep fry a turkey indoors, under an overhang such as a balcony, or on a combustible surface such as a wood deck. A grassy area, if available, often works best.
- Ensure that the propane tank is full and has no rust near the threaded fitting or the shut-off valve.
- Have a fire extinguisher and the cooking container lid handy. If the oil catches fire, put on an oven mitt and cover the cooking container with the lid to smother the fire. Shut off the burner and allow the container to cool down.
- Thaw and dry the turkey ahead of time. A wet or frozen turkey will cause popping and splattering of oil as the water is released into the hot oil.
- Insert a hook into the turkey ahead of time to make it easier and safer to handle once near the hot oil.
- Never stuff the cavity of the bird, the frying process requires that oil be able to enter the cavity. And any aromatics you’ve placed in the cavity will be jettisoned when the turkey is submerged in the oil.
- Do not over fill the cooking container. Ensure that you use the proper amount of oil by placing the uncooked turkey in the container and filling it with water. Measure the water line in the container once you remove the turkey and use that as a guide to how much oil is necessary.
- Heat the oil slowly and only heat it to the recommended temperature.
- Never leave the cooking turkey unattended.
- Warn children to stay away from the cooking area and restrain or lock up pets.
- NEVER attempt to put out an oil fire using water.
- Be careful using a fire extinguisher. Standing too close to the container while discharging the fire extinguisher can cause oil to be splattered on everything nearby, spreading the fire and potentially causing burns.
Following these guidelines and paying close attention while your bird is cooking will result in a delicious meal and leave you more time to enjoy what Thanksgiving is really all about, enjoying the company of loved ones and the bounty that we enjoy.
Chef Stuart Reb Donald