†TEXAS FOOD: FRIED TURKEY†
Bashing | Texas Food
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The subject of deep-fried turkey came up here a few
months ago - and yes, the stuff does exist. In the New Yorker the method
was described. It involves 6 GALLONS of lard or peanut oil into which
the turkey is placed for 45 minutes. (I HOPE it isn't stuffed first.)
Supposed to be absolutely delicious, but they recommend performing this
operation out of doors or in a car port, since that much hot oil
presents some safety problems.
At the other extreme was a recipe†
presented in that other great source for recipes - the Wall Street
Journal. This involved cooking the bird overnight at 200 degrees. (Them's
REAL degrees, and not those phony Celsius things.) We tried this method
and the results were wonderful. Next time, however, we will preheat the
oven to 450, put the turkey in and IMMEDIATELY reduce the temperature to
200 (for browning), then, when the internal temperature reaches 170 or
so, increase the heat to 325 until done.
(Read words of
caution from a man from Tennessee regarding frying in a car port)
CLICK HERE TO
WATCH AN EXCELLENT VIDEO ABOUT FRYING A TURKEY
here for Texas Christmas Events
The following excerpts, from various sources,
pertain to the subject
of frying turkey.†
Included among the excerpts are recipes and commentary.
Deep Fried Turkey Tips: Use water to measure the amount of oil
that will be needed if you are unsure of the capacity of your deep fryer.*
A heavy wire coat hanger hooked to the wire band that secures the
turkey's legs will help when lowering and lifting the turkey into the
hot fat. Or use a sturdy cooking spoon, tongs, or a large fork for extra
support. Do not rely solely on the wire band too lift a heavy turkey as
it can loosen during the cooking process. Before removing the pot from
the burner, let the oil cool for at least one hour after the turkey has
been removed and fire turned off. You can inject strained bottled
Italians salad dressing for the marinade or use the cajun Injector which
is a kit that includes a sixteen ounce jar of marinade and a syringe
type injector. Use about 1 ounce of marinade per pound of turkey. It is
better to buy a fresh turkey than a prebasted type because the prebasted
ones are saltier. Marinades can be injected in a whole turkey in about
five minutes. Most experts recommend choosing a turkey no larger than
twelve pounds. Remove the giblets from cavities, wash cavities and pat
dry. Inject marinade into turkey thighs, legs, and breast. Heat oil to
350 degrees in a 40 quart cooker, such as a propane or butane cooker
with a steamer basket and a cover. Sprinkle Cajun seasoning (Zatarains
is a good one) all over the entire bird and inside cavity. Carefully
lower the turkey into oil and deep fry for 3 1/2 minutes per pound,
maintaining oil at 350 degrees. Remove turkey carefully and let oil
cool. Makes 12-15 servings.
*Dave disagrees with the method of using water to figure
out how much oil you need to fry your turkey. Dave had the following
"The section on how to find the oil level is dead wrong and dangerous (and why most fryer fires happen) DO NOT USE WATER to find your oil level. USE OIL. Just do it the same way but use the oil and then you dont need to dry off the bird or the pot. Also, if you do this inside you deserve to burn your house down."
CAJUN DEEP FRIED TURKEY
†4 oz. liquid garlic 4 oz. liquid onion 4 oz.
liquid celery 1 Tbsp. red pepper 2 Tbsp. salt 2 Tbsp. tabasco 1 oz.
liquid crab boil or 1 Tbsp. Old Bay Seasoning 1 poultry or meat injector
1 defrosted 10-12 pound turkey 5 gallons Peanut oil Saute first seven
ingredients until salt and pepper are dissolved. Fill the injector and
inject turkey at breast, wings, drumsticks, thighs and back. Allow to
marinate 24 hours in refrigerator or ice chest. Use a 10 gallon pot for
frying. Bring peanut oil to 350 degree temperature and fry turkey for
38-42 minutes. Turkey should float to surface after 35 minutes and you
should cook an additional 5-7 minutes. ***You may want to tie turkey
legs with 1/2" cotton ropes to be able to remove from frying pot
when done*** Precaution: The cooking of fried turkey should be done
outdoors. Extreme caution should be taken when placing cold turkey into
There are two tenets of
Southern male cooking. It has to be done outside, and the results
should be bad for you....
The following was written by
Beverly Bundy of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram
Every year about this time, the calls start coming.
It's always a man on the other end of the phone, and it's usually on
Monday morning. "Hey, could you tell me how to deep-fry one of
I immediately know what he was doing the previous
Sunday. Instead of helping his wife with the laundry, taking his kids
to the zoo or separating the irises, he was parked on the Barca,
watching John Madden draw arrows and circles and comment on some
(I know what he has been doing because I'm the football sinner in my
And what the caller has seen on NFL Sunday is some football fan
deep-frying a turkey at a stadium tailgating party.
†Frying whole turkeys is sort of the Southern version of making
fondue. You have a lot of your friends over, you poke around in a pot
of hot oil with some sticks and then you pull out your dinner.
Justin Wilson, he of Cajun fame, recalls first seeing a turkey fry in
Louisiana in the 1930s. Most recently, John Martin Taylor, another
Southern boy and promoter of Southern cooking as Hoppin' John, has
been touring the country to promote his `The Fearless Frying Cookbook'
(Workman, $10.95). In the process of demonstrating the joys of frying,
Hoppin' John often drops a turkey into a bubbling caldron. (see
What this yields is a turkey that is incredibly moist with a crispy,
fragrant crust. It is truly a turkey of dreams. Is the mess of
spattered oil and a greasy carport worth this transcendental turkey?
Only the person in charge of cleanup can make that decision.
If it's Thanksgiving and you're a one-oven household, frying frees up
the oven for the rolls, the dressing, the marshmallow-encrusted yams.
However, Thanksgiving means a lot of keyed-up children, so there are
safety issues to consider.
The remarkable thing about the whole process is that if done properly,
fried turkey is not the dietary no-no it would appear. Here's how
The high heat of the oil causes the interior moisture of the turkey to
rush to the skin, where it steams. (That's the noise you hear.) As
more water from the turkey moves out to replace the moisture it has
lost, pressure keeps the oil out of the bird. All this steam action
cools the surface enough to prevent the skin from burning, while the
center of the turkey has time to cook.
4 to 5 gallons peanut oil
12- to 15-pound whole turkey, at room temperature
Cayenne pepper, optional
Begin heating the oil outdoors in a 10-gallon pot over a very hot
propane flame. Don't set the burner to its highest setting, as you may
need to increase the heat after you've added the turkey. It will take
about 20 minutes for the oil to heat. Use a candy/deep-fry thermometer
clamped to the side of the pot to determine the temperature of the
Meanwhile, rinse the turkey well, pat it dry inside and out and set it
on end in a sink to drain.
When the oil reaches 375 degrees, pat the turkey dry again and
sprinkle with cayenne, if desired. If your cooker has a basket insert,
place turkey in the basket and set it over a baking sheet; if not, set
an oven rack over a large baking sheet, place the turkey on it and
take them outside to the cooker.
Check temperature of the oil. When oil reaches 390 degrees, carefully
and slowly lower the basket with the turkey into the oil; or lower it
by holding it by its legs or by a long, heavy tool such as a clean
fireplace poker inserted into its cavity. (Or, pull a length of cotton
twine through the flesh loop that is holding the legs in place. Double
the cotton and tie securely, fashioning a handle for dropping and
lifting.) Immediately check the oil temperature and adjust the flame
so that the temperature does not dip below 340 degrees. You want to
maintain the temperature at 365 degrees. As it cooks, occasionally
move the bird around in the oil so that it doesn't scorch. The oil
near the heat source will be hotter.
A whole turkey takes only 3-4 minutes per pound to fry to perfection.
Small ones, around 12 pounds, will take about 35 minutes; large ones,
around 15 pounds, will take about 1 hour. When the turkey is done, it
will float to the surface with a perfectly crispy, brown skin. If you
are unsure, you can test the meat for doneness at the hip joint, or
insert a meat thermometer into the breast; it should register 180
Using the basket insert if there is one, or by again inserting a long,
heavy tool such as a clean fireplace poker into its cavity, carefully
remove the turkey from the oil and hold it over the pot for a moment
to allow any excess oil to drain back into the pot. Then lay the bird
on the oven rack. Allow it to rest for 20 minutes before carving.
Very approximate nutritional analysis per serving: 415 calories, 27
grams fat, 0 carbohydrates, 40 grams protein, 116 milligrams
cholesterol, 96 milligrams sodium, 60 percent of calories from fat.
-- The Fearless Frying Cookbook'
by Hoppin' John Martin Taylor
WE HOPE YOU ENJOY YOUR TASTE OF FRIED TURKEY
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Yes, my first experience is that it was extremely delicious!
However, Iíd be very careful about recommending that anyone try to fry a turkey in a car port. If itís raining, they either need to get wet, or wait until it stops raining. If a fire breaks out in a car port, you could expect the car port to burn down. If itís attached to a house, expect the house to go with it. Itís just not worth the risk to do it under a cover.
Commonly recommended is to do it outside, away from anything combustible. I just did one on my driveway in the drizzling rain. I didnít get soaked, but I stayed out there with the cooker the entire 45 minutes during cooking. Depending on the design of the cooker, they are safe appliances, but accidents do happen. Iíd rather have a fire happen on my driveway than under a car port.
Just my opinion based on the research that Iíve done (informal) on the internet and talking to owners.
Thanks, Ben, for the
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