For those of you who have savored the incredible flavor of deep fried turkey, there’s nothing more to say. If this pleasure has escaped you, then I suggest you follow the 12 easy steps outlined below, and you’ll have a juicy and flavorful turkey.
Growing up in a quaint, small southern town, we had all the southern staples on Thanksgiving, including the baked – and yes, very dry, turkey.
The tricky part is selecting the proper marinade, properly preparing the bird. Frying the turkey is simple, but please be careful. You’re dealing with boiling oil at 350 degrees, and no one wants a house fire or a trip to the emergency room for third-degree skin burns. That means keeping the little ones and your intoxicated uncle away from the pot.
I like this recipe from Emeril Lagasse, and we know if Emeril’s involved, there’s going to be tons of seasoning and favor. I also use a good store bought marinade too.
One, 10 to 12 lb. Turkey: This ideal size is 10-12 lbs., with 14 lbs., being the largest I would recommend for frying whole.
A deep-frying system: Wal-Mart, Lowe’s, Home Depot or your local hardware or sporting goods store will stock them. Have a full propane tank on hand. Academy Sports & Outdoors carries a large selection of cookers and fryers too. Plus, they’re offering free shipping on all fryers this week.
Peanut Oil: Use only peanut oil and not any combo oil. Why? It tastes the best. Purchase a large container (3 gallons) and a single one-gallon size from your grocery store, Wal-Mart or most locations where fry kits are sold. (Tip: Buy the oil early before supplies are gone)
Marinade & Rub: Below is Emeril’s recipe and I’m using it for the first time this year. And please don’t allow a “complicated” marinade to discourage you. If you want to purchase a good store-bought marinade, I’ve been using Cajun Creole Garlic or Butter for years, and you’ll find it next to the ketchup and sauces at your local grocery.
Prevent Fires & Burns: Anything that involves frying involves oil at high temperatures. With that said, if you follow basic safety rules and common sense you’ll be fine and won’t make next years Thanksgiving Allstate commercial. DO NOT cook in covered garages or porches or on apartment patios. Enough said.
Set your system up on a flat, grassy area. I don’t recommend setting it up on concrete, but if that’s all you have, make sure you put looks of newspaper on a cardboard surface. That way any spilled or spattered oil won’t stain the concrete.
Follow these directions, and your bird will be perfect.
PREPARING THE TURKEY
Note: If done Emeril’s way, prepare the turkey 24 hours before eating or overnight is fine. You can also prepare, cook and eat the turkey the same day and that’s what we’ve always done at our house.
- Prepare the marinade and dry rub
To make the marinade: Combine all of the ingredients in a food processor or blender and process for about 5 minutes. Fill a syringe and inject each turkey in the breast and thigh area, as well as the back, wings, and legs. You will have to fill the syringe several times.
Marinade ingredients: (Injected inside the bird with a large syringe and needle)
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon liquid Zatarain’s Concentrated Crab and Shrimp Boil (optional)
1/4 cup apple cider
3/4 cup honey
1 (12-ounce) bottle beer
1 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon ground allspice
1/2 cup Emeril’s Original Essence or Creole Seasoning (Essence recipe below)
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
pinch ground cloves
For the Seasoning Mix:
1 cup salt
1 tablespoon cayenne
1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
Dry Rub: For the outside
Essence (Emeril’s Creole Seasoning):
2 1/2 tablespoons paprika
2 tablespoons salt
2 tablespoons garlic powder
1 tablespoon black pepper
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon dried leaf oregano
1 tablespoon dried thyme
Combine all ingredients thoroughly and store in an airtight jar or container.
Yield: about 2/3 cup
HOW MUCH OIL GOES IN THE POT? HERE’S A TRICK: Before removing the turkey from its wrapping, place the turkey inside the large pot you’ll use and fill the pot with water, just covering the top of the bird. Now remove the turkey. The current water level minus about 1/4 inch, will be where you will fill the pot with oil.
2. Remove turkey, place it on a large tray and remove the wrap. Also, reach into the turkey and move the neck and stuffing. Dry the turkey well before applying the marinade and dry rub.
3. When the turkey is dry, pour the marinade into the syringe (better to suck it out with the needle) and begin inserting into the breast first, then the legs and finally the wings. Most should go into the breast since it’s the largest. Make sure the marinade is going into the meat, not just under the skin. Make sure you insert the marinade all over the section you are rubbing. If I’m using the store bought version, make sure you have two jars on hand because you’ll use almost one and a half jars. There’s no art to injecting the turkey. You’ll figure it out.
4. Once the marinade is injected, literally apply the dry rub to the outside of the turkey. If using the Emeril method, place in the refrigerator 24 hours or overnight. If you do chill the bird, let it sit out for at least 20-25 minutes before placing in the pot.
Here’s the fun part!!!!!
5. It’s time to fry. Connect the propane tank to the cooking stand and place your pot of hot oil with the thermostat clipped to the side on the burner. Turn the propane tank on and make sure any other knobs that control the gas are on too. Carefully light using a long match or lighter. Turn gas on hight and place the lid on the pot. You want the oil to be at least 350 degrees, and this will take approximately 35-40 minutes.
6. When the temperature is at 350, remove the lid with your gloves and get ready to add the goods.
7. Place the turkey upright on the stand included with your kit. Make sure the ends of the drumsticks (legs) are pointing up. With gloves on, use the hook (usually a triangle device) to pick up the stand. You’re ready to place in the oil but WAIT.
8. Briefly turn off the gas and remove the thermostat, then slowly, and I mean at a snail’s pace, gently lower the turkey into the hot oil, which will start sizzling and spattering, which you can control by how fast you’re lowering the bird.
9. Once the bird is in, remove the hook and relight the burner. Set your timer to 3 1/2 minutes per pound. I place the lid most of the way on to the pot to keep the splattering down.
10. The turkey is ready when the internal temperature reaches 170 to 180 degrees F on an instant-read meat thermometer, put your gloves on, take the hook and gently lift the turkey from the oil. Remember, EVERYTHING is hot so carefully remove and place the turkey on a large, sturdy flat pan or pot and DON’T TIP THE POT OVER.
WITH YOUR GLOVES ON, carefully lay the bird down and remove the cooking stand by sliding it out. If possible, have another large pot filled half-way with warm, soapy water so you can soak the cooking utensils. I prefer using DAWN.
11. Turn burner off.
12. Take bird inside let it sit for at least 15-30 minutes before carving and serving.
Now carve, serve and eat
Oil and clean up. You can filter and reuse the oil, but allow it to sit several hours or overnight covered before handling. Please, keep the kids and drunk uncles away from the oil and the cooking process. Want to guess how Allstate or other insurance carriers come into the picture? Thoroughly clean the pot, utensils, and burner before storing.
Cooking time: I recommend 3 1/2 to 4 minutes per pound, so let’s back into when to start heating the oil. Let’s say you’re eating at 2 p.m.
35-45 minutes for the oil to heat
35-45 minutes to cook (using 3 1/2 minutes per pound as our guide)
20-30 minutes to allow to sit, crave and place on a table. Even if you eat an hour after removing the turkey, it will still be tasty and warm.
I say you start setting up between 10:30 to 10:45 that morning. Enjoy