In many regions, it won’t be long before the temperatures will drop to freezing (and below), and the snow will begin to fall. In the meantime, though, even in those parts of the country, the leaves haven’t reached their peak colors, the first frost has yet to occur, and Indian summer is still in the offing. Therefore, millions of people are taking advantage of the remaining days of clement weather, by having their last backyard get-togethers of the year, and enjoying outdoor meals at their picnic tables.
These gatherings can be anything from typical, casual, summer-style cookouts, to formal, outdoor dinner parties. However, in October, when the air is crisp and cool, one of the most popular trends is to invite a bunch of friends over, and deep-fry a turkey. Done correctly, this method produces some of the most succulent turkeys imaginable, in much less time than it takes to cook them in ovens.
Of course, besides getting mouth-watering results, a huge part of the proper execution of this technique requires observing some strict safety precautions. Undoubtedly, while this is one of the most delicious ways to prepare a turkey, with the extremely high temperatures, and large amounts of oil, involved, even one moment of carelessness or disregard can make it one of the most dangerous as well.
So, to get started right, you’ll need a 30-60 quart fryer that’s made exclusively for turkeys, and designed to be used outdoors, which is the only place where this kind of cooking should be done. It’s best to buy it in a kit that includes a basket, fry pot, meat injector, and thermometer. The ideal place to set up is in the driveway, or on another asphalt, or concrete, surface, rather than a wooden deck or porch. A backyard barbecue pit is also a great place to fry a turkey; but, wherever you do it, be certain that there is nothing hanging overhead.
Another crucial part of the operation is avoiding injury from oil splatters and steam. Your hands will need special protection that cannot be provided by regular oven mitts, so you’ll need a high-quality pair of insulated, outdoor cooking gloves; and don’t forget to wear safety glasses.
Once you’re adequately equipped, you can determine how much oil you will need, by putting your turkey into the deep fry basket, setting it in the pot, and adding water until the top of it is about two inches under. Then, remove the basket with the bird, measure the water that’s in the pot, and use that same amount of oil.
Typically, it takes about twenty minutes for the oil to reach the appropriate cooking temperature, which is approximately 325º F. While you’re waiting for it to heat up, make sure that all marinades and seasonings are applied, and/or injected, as this must be done before frying the turkey. Once the oil is hot enough, lower the basket containing the turkey slowly into the pot.
To calculate the necessary cooking time, figure on about three minutes per pound. Most turkeys will be ready in only 30-45 minutes; but, keep in mind that the breast meat must be cooked to 170º, and the thigh meat, 180º F.
If you’ve never tasted a deep-fried turkey before, now is the perfect time to try it. Set your picnic table or outdoor dining table with napery and decorative accents in the beautiful autumn colors, and treat yourself, and your friends, to a scrumptious outdoor meal, featuring this delectable dish.
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