November 22, 2009

To Fry or Not to Fry: Thanksgiving Turkey

I've heard a lot recently about deep-frying a turkey, something that I literally didn't know existed until this Thanksgiving season. My immediate reaction to this idea is to wash my hands and face repeatedly and eat a celery stick, but people seem to love it.

Is this love of deep fried turkey because we're American, and, therefore, love anything deep fried? Or is it legitimately good? I've heard that the skin gets awesomely crispy and the meat stays moist, but...frying a whole turkey? I don't know what to believe anymore. Alton Brown seems to approve of it:

But I remain unconvinced. My boyfriend and his father are hell-bent on frying a turkey this Thanksgiving, and I have to say that the idea still makes me feel like scrubbing my skin with Comet and steel wool. In the name of good journalism, I'll do some research and get back to you with the results--I'm definitely planning to fill up on mashed potatoes and stuffing in case the turkey turns out badly.

To my readers: have you ever deep-fried a turkey? Do you know someone who has? What was it like? Did you burn your house down? Any feedback is welcome.


  1. Brad Haskins (West Virginia)November 23, 2009 at 6:08 PM

    Kitt, I just actually fried a chicken. I bought a Turkey Fryer from BJ's. The 30 quart variant. I wasn't sure if this will be big enough for our turkeys, but for chicken it was plenty big. Couple comments:
    1. Be vigilant on the temperature. I heated the peanut oil up to around 330 degrees Fahrenheit. I have heard anywhere from 325-350 works. I had to constantly watch the temperature and adjust the head accordingly. When I put in the chicken (slowly, lowered it in over a minute, it can catch fire and cause an explosion otherwise), the temperature dipped a bit, so we increased the heat. But we check the temperature every couple of minutes. I recommend getting a chair and just sitting next to the fryer outside.
    2. Timing. I cooked an 8 lb. chicken. I wasn't quite sure on the timing. I first put it in for 18 minutes at 325-300. After taking the chicken inside, the deep inside was not fully cooked, even though the outside layers of meat were perfect. I put it back on for about 6 additional minutes. I had read a rough guide of 3 minutes per pound for Turkey, so we went to the 24 minutes for our chicken. It was perfect!
    3. It is delicious. The outside was perfectly crispy. Yes the skin is fried, but the skin is never healthy. If anyone is worried about frying the bird due to health concerns, you wouldn't eat the skin anyways. The meat was unbelievably juicy. We put some seasoning onnthe outside and injected some terriyaki throughout the meat before cooking. It was perfect. I have never eaten better chicken.
    4. I am really looking forward to frying my turkeys for Thanksgiving. I hear it only takes about an hour a bird!
    5. My advice, safety first, always watch the pot, be careful with the timing, and maintain a steady temperature.
    Good luck, hope yours turns out as good as mine!

  2. My roommate brought home some leftovers from his sister's house and included was deep fried turkey. We only had a few pieces with the skin on them and I was impressed with how moist the rest of the meat was. I still like the traditional version better. Let us know how yours turned out!