It’s that time of the year again. Thanksgiving is upon us, and it’s time to flex our culinary muscles. Unfortunately, we’ve never had much luck grilling a whole turkey (not for lack of trying). But, when it comes to deep-frying...well, we’re never going back to roasting, if we’re being totally honest. Today, we’re gonna guide you through the ins-and-outs of frying your own turkey.
Before we proceed, we should say this -- deep frying at home is dangerous. There’s no shortage of fried turkey horror stories out there, and a quick YouTube search for “deep frying turkey fail” can confirm that. So, be extremely, extremely careful when frying a turkey. If you’ve never deep-fried anything before, turkey is not the place to start.
As a rule of thumb, you need to fry your turkey in 350°F degree oil for 3 1/2 minutes per pound.
Aside from the bird itself, you’re gonna want a 5-gallon propane tank, a long-stemmed thermometer, a turkey fryer pot, a propane-fired burner, and the stand the burner sits in. We suspect most Grillaholics out there may already have some of these tools. If not, they can be found easily on Amazon.
Perhaps most importantly, you’ll need space. Outdoor space. Not space in a garage, not space in a toolshed...outdoor space. This is messy work, and oil will splatter. Keep away from anything flammable. We suggest spreading out some old carpet or cardboard in a five-foot radius around your fryer. You should move anything you don’t want oil on at least eight feet away from the fryer.
We probably sound like broken records going on and on about safety, but please...bear with us. When setting up your turkey frying station, be sure to have a fire extinguisher on hand. As well, we suggest long pants and long sleeves. Be sure to set your propane tank as far from the burner as the connections will allow.
Adding the Oil
A good way to figure out how much oil you’ll need is the water trick. Put your turkey in the pot, and fill it with water until the water level is about 3 inches above the turkey. Make sure you have plenty of room above that, too -- oil can expand 10 percent when heated. Mark the water level with a sharpie (on the outside). That’s where you’ll want to fill up to with oil.
Use peanut oil. It’s cheap, it’s flavorless, and it’s what most restaurants use for frying. Plan on buying at least five gallons of oil. Once the oil is in the pot, it should take about half an hour to bring the oil to 375F. When you put the bird in, it’ll drop that temperature down to a perfect 350 degrees.
Prepping the Bird
The jury is still out on whether brining actually helps a bird retain its moisture (but that’s another article entirely). However, it’s generally accepted that brining will allow the bird to cook a bit more quickly. We suggest a 12-hour brine. When that’s done, make sure the bird is dry. That’s going to be absolutely crucial to safely frying a turkey. If your turkey still is packing a lot of moisture, well...you’re gonna have a bad time. We’re talking ‘oil shrapnel firing unstoppably and ruining your Thanksgiving’ level of a bad time.
You can even coat the bird in flour to put a buffer between any remaining moisture and the oil. We also suggest tying the legs and wings to the body of the turkey, so you can get that traditional ‘Thanksgiving bird’ presentation.
Cooking the Bird
After much prep-work, it’s finally time -- time to cook the darn thing. This is the easy part. Put the bird on your spindle, and slowly lower it into your pot of oil. Slowly. We can’t stress that part enough. At 3.5 minutes per pound, you’re probably looking at 45 minutes or an hour of total cook time, depending on the size of your turkey.
Use your thermometer. You’re looking for 165°F in the breast and 180°F in the fattier part of the thigh. It will continue to cook up even after it’s removed from the oil, but safety is key when dealing with poultry.
Finishing the Bird
Surprisingly, you’ll find that fried turkeys are anything but oily. They’ve got a beautifully crisp skin, while also being wonderfully tender on the inside. So, if you want to impress this Thanksgiving...bust out the fryer!