Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Talking Turkey

Hope it's safe to talk turkey. Fried turkey that is. Don't laugh - this isn't as easy or as stupid as it sounds. It is quite technical - maybe not as difficult as slow smoked barbecue - but it's no slam dunk.

It took two attempts, multiple post graduate degrees and culinary experience to figure out how to do this correctly. First attempt was a fairly overcooked bird on Thanksgiving day - thankfully it was the back-up bird.

Actually it was the "entertainment" for the afternoon as family members peered through the window at the goofs in the yard attempting to divert bone chilling 40 mph winds from the open flames while avoiding getting burned by the 6 gallon cauldron of boiling oil.

The next day a much larger bird (20 lbs) was fried to great success. When one family member was seen eating the crispy, flavorful skin right off the bird, we knew we had achieved our goal.

Keys to a crispy and juicy fried turkey:
  • Salt the bird between the skin and the meat with plenty of kosher salt 2 hours before frying
  • Allow salted bird to sit upright on fryer hook over a sheet pan in refrigerator
  • Dry outer skin with paper towels before frying
  • Bring/hold the peanut oil to exactly 350 degrees F
  • Cook no more than 3 minutes per pound, allow to rest 10 to 15 minutes before carving
  • You may also need to have a specific propane tank connector that will work with the frying set so check it a few days before the big event to avoid last minute snafus.
Although it was tasty it's hard to imagine doing this very often given all of the oil used (almost 4 gallons) and a cooking vessel so big that it was hard to clean even in a laundry tub. One thought is to offer the neighbors a turkey frying schedule throughout the day, cooking one turkey every hour to make better use of the hot oil and set up efforts.