Fried turkey? No, really |

Fried turkey? No, really

Fried turkey is no longer on the back burner for Thanksgiving

Looking for something out of the ordinary for Thanksgiving? Don’t wing it this year – fry a turkey.

This palate-pleaser also will get you out of the kitchen much faster. A fried turkey cooks in a fraction of the time of its conventional oven-baked friends.

“I know people who will never go back to baking a turkey,” said Cindy Powell of The Home Depot. “It’s mostly because frying produces a juicy, flavorful bird and the cooking time is so quick. All you need for a great meal is a plump turkey, a propane tank and a cooker.”

Most fryer kits come with a stockpot, outdoor gas cooker, basket and stainless thermometer. Some fryers hold up to a 24-pound turkey. Fryers can also be used for fish and potatoes, or even something completely different like an old-fashioned low-country boil or a big pot of Brunswick Stew.

Set up the turkey fryer outdoors on a level surface. It can be placed on concrete, but the oil used in cooking probably will cause stains, so be careful where you park it. Use your cooker in an open area away from homes, garages, decks, shrubbery and trees, and never place your deep fryer on a wooden deck because it may pose a fire risk. Never leave the cooker unattended.

Peanut oil is recommended because it stays clear longer, has a high smoke point, and good flavor. However, if peanut oil is unavailable, vegetable or safflower oil may be used. For a 10- to 12-pound turkey, use 21/2 to 3 gallons of oil, and for a 13- to 16-pound turkey, use 3 to 31/2 gallons. If you are unsure about how much peanut oil to use, place the turkey in a pot and fill it with water until the turkey is covered. The amount of water used corresponds to the amount of oil needed.

Allow your turkey to thaw out completely and clean and dry it inside and out, removing the giblets and neck. Also, trim away any excess fat. Make sure the opening around the neck is clear and then rub the entire bird with salt and pepper or Cajun seasonings. You can also inject seasoning marinade at two points, on the breast and on the thighs. Then, place the turkey upside down on the rack, with legs facing up.

Heat the oil to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. This could take at least 15 to 20 minutes, so be patient. Count on it taking about 31/2 minutes per pound to cook your turkey; an average 15-pound turkey will take between 45 and 53 minutes to cook. By comparison, the roasting time for a stuffed whole 15-pound turkey is more than 51/2 hours.

“It’s possible that you could fry turkeys for half your neighborhood in the same amount of time it normally would take you to bake one just for yourself,” said Powell. “I recommend inviting friends and their turkeys over for a neighborhood fry, but wait until the end to put yours in the pot. By the time you’ve fried your fifth or sixth turkey, the oil is seasoned and you get the best flavor.”

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