Deep fried turkey? Whole?? Many people have never heard of such an idea, and I only heard of it a few short years ago. I saw a sales display of a turkey fryer at the local big box store. It consisted of an extra-large stockpot, a basket, a burner and a propane canister. I was immediately intrigued, so I bought the set. From that point on, Thanksgiving Day has never been the same! One of the things I love about the fried turkey is that when you submerge it into the oil, it immediately sears the skin, which keeps the moisture in. In addition to that, cooking time is cut considerably. Best of all, you won't have to remember to baste the bird!
Preparation. You will need several things to start.
- A turkey fryer. You should be able to find a good fryer setup at most large retailers, especially around the holiday season. Read How To Use a Turkey Fryer and also read the manual carefully in case it requires any accessories, like a fuel cylinder or a basket. Many of the sets come with everything you need, with the exception of the peanut oil and turkey. Most don't come with the propane cylinder.
- Turkey. I've had the best experiences with 13-15 lb birds. Anything larger just takes up too much space or could result in the oil overflowing. Buy your turkey 5 days ahead of time so you can thaw it in your refrigerator. Do not attempt to stuff a turkey you're going to fry. It doesn't work.
- Spices, if desired. A good dry spice rub is best. It is best to rub your spices on the outside of the turkey on the last day of thawing. That will give time for the flavors to penetrate the bird.
- Peanut oil is great for frying your turkey. If you are concerned about peanut allergies, use corn or canola oil. These oils have a higher smoking point, so they work well with frying. You will need between 3–5 gallons.
- Thermometer. A candy thermometer works well, or a meat thermometer with a long probe.
- FIRE EXTINGUISHER. Please keep a fire extinguisher handy. Oil is flammable, and you must be prepared in case of an accident. You will also need good, heavy-duty potholders or oven mitts.
Before you start. Before frying, you'll need to set up your fryer. The fryer must be set up outdoors, due to the flammable nature of the oil and the risk of spillage and spattering of the oil. Don't put the oil in yet.
- Once your fryer is all set up, and before you ignite the burner, you must determine how much oil you will need. Don't try to guess, and don't skip this step.
- Place your thawed turkey in the fryer, either on a rack, in a basket, or on the hanger, depending on the type of fryer you have.
- Fill the pot with clean water until the water level is two inches above the top of the turkey.
- Remove the turkey.
- Use a ruler to measure the water level after the turkey is removed. Take note of the measurement. That is the level to which you will fill with oil. Finally, empty the water and dry the pot and accessories thoroughly.
Frying. Now the fun part.
- Fill your pot with the necessary amount of oil.
- Follow the manufacturer's instructions and light the burner.
- Place the pot of oil over the burner carefully, avoiding any spillage. If you do spill any oil, check the level and carefully add the appropriate amount.
- Check the temperature of the oil and heat the oil to between 325° and 350°. Don't let the oil get hotter than that, or you'll have smoke problems and your bird will cook too fast on the outside. Expect the oil to take approximately 30 minutes to reach the desired temperature.
Following the manufacturer's instructions, SLOWLY lower the turkey into the oil.
- Cooking time: Allow about 3 minutes per pound for whole turkeys. This is an estimate. (I always let mine fry for 45 minutes.)
13 Pounds: 39 minutes.
14 pounds: 42 minutes.
15 Pounds: 45 minutes.
- Check the temperature. Slowly remove the bird and check the temperature. The thigh should be at least 180° and the breast should be at least 170°.
- Once the turkey is at the correct temperature, turn the burner off. Carefully remove the turkey and place it on your serving platter.
- Cover and remove the pot of oil and place it on a stable ground surface to cool. Do not leave it unattended, as the outside will be hot and will burn anyone who touches it.
Now you can enjoy your Thanksgiving turkey southern style!