10.5.5 Deep frying a whole turkey
[How do I deep fry a turkey?]
Deep frying a turkey is not smoking or grilling but it is outdoors
cooking and so here is what you need to know to do it.
Turkey (From the Cajun Injector)
From their Web page:
If at all possible, select a turkey that has not been injected with
butter, seasonings, or other flavorings. You will need a food injector with a fairly large
hole to inject the turkey with the seasoning puree. Do this a day ahead, then cover and
refrigerate until ready to cook.
It is really best to fry the turkey outdoors, using a propane burner or
other outdoor cooking equipment. Brinkmann sells a 36 qt. pot (with basket) and a propane
burner set that works very well. You will also need a thermometer that reads to at least
400F that can be clipped to the basket.
Cajun Deep-Fry Turkey Seasoning mix:
|10 to 12
||pound dressed turkey not injected with
||butter, seasonings, or other flavorings
||ground red pepper
||hot pepper vinegar
||peppers only ground
||plus 1 teaspoon salt
||red cayenne pepper
||basic turkey or chicken stock
About 5 gallons peanut oil for frying (peanut oil is used
due to its higher boiling point). Sam's sells it in 5 gallon containers.
Thoroughly combine the seasoning mix ingredients in a small bowl and set
aside. If making the spice is too time consuming, you can purchase the prepared version
called 'Cajun Injector' at major grocery stores in the meat section or direct from the
company. The address is: Cajun Injector, P.O. Box 97, Clinton, LA. 70722. It comes with
the hypodermic injector.
Preparing the turkey:
If your turkey comes with a metal prong that holds the cavity closed,
remove and set it aside. Place turkey in a large pan. Remove the giblets and neck from the
turkey. If your turkey comes with a plastic "pop-up" doneness indicator, be sure
to remove and discard it. Set pan aside.
In a large skillet, melt the butter over high heat until half melted.
Add the onions and sauté about 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the celery, garlic,
Ground Hot Pepper Vinegar peppers, the 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon salt, the 1 tablespoon
red pepper, and the black pepper. Cook until mixture is a rich golden brown, about 3
minutes, stirring and scraping pan bottom frequently. Add the stock and Worcestershire and
bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and immediately transfer mixture to
a blender: blend on highest speed until mixture is a very smooth puree, pushing sides down
as needed to make sure every bit of the vegetables are finely pureed (so it won't stop up
the injector needle).
Rinse and drain turkey well. While puree is still hot, pour it into the
food injector and inject the puree into the turkey: Insert to the bone or to the depth of
the injector needle, without piercing through to the cavity. To fill the injection hole
with the puree as much as possible, from bone to surface of bird, begin to draw the needle
out as you inject the puree. Make holes about 2 inches apart and use most of the puree in
the meatiest areas; be sure to inject some of the puree in the upper joint of the wing,
too. Pour any remaining puree (the part that won't go through the injector) into the
cavity of the turkey and rub it over the inner surface. Set turkey aside.
Sprinkle the reserved seasoning mix evenly over the bird and inside the
cavity, rubbing it in by hand and using it all. Close the legs and tail together with the
metal prong (or fold legs back into skin flaps, or tie legs together with kitchen twine).
Cover and refrigerate overnight.
Assemble all equipment and utensils before starting to fry the turkey.
You will need:
A propane burner or other heat source with adjustable control capable or
producing a strong flame.
A very deep pot (8-gallon size or larger) so the turkey will be totally
submerged in hot oil with plenty of room left over--a depth of several extra inches for
the oil to bubble in without bubbling over.
A large boiling or fry-basket (large enough for the turkey to fit inside
with room to spare) that fits the pot; turkey will be slipped into and lifted out of the
bubbling hot oil in the basket.
A thermometer that reads up to at least 400F and has a long probe and
clip so it can be left in the hot oil while the turkey fries.
Two strong and heat-proof utensils (two 20-inch, or longer barbecuing
forks work well for this) to use for turning the turkey over in case it doesn't stay
submerged in the oil. (Or you can weight the turkey down to keep it submerged while frying
by inserting a long-handled heat-proof fork securely under the metal prong or by pressing
down on the turkey with a strong and heat-proof utensil. But don't weight it down with
anything so broad that it will keep a spot of skin from frying crisp.) A large platter or
pan lined with several thicknesses of paper bags to drain the turkey once its fried.
Plenty of potholders. Old towels to place on the ground around the burner in case oil
bubbles over and makes the surrounding area slippery.
Let the turkey sit at room temperature for hour before frying. Place the
turkey on its back inside the fry basket. Place the basket in the empty pot and measure
the turkey's height in the pot with a ruler; be sure to include in the measurement the
thickness of the basket bottom and any space between the basket bottom and the pan bottom.
Remove basket and turkey from the pot. Place pot on the burner and fill it with the peanut
oil at least up to the height of the total measurement made with the ruler. (Remember that
the turkey itself, as well as the basket will displace some of the oil, making the oil
come up higher in the pot.)
Before heating the oil, have the "dress rehearsal." Drain off
any liquid that has accumulated in or under the turkey and pat the turkey dry, so no water
will get into the oil and make the oil pop when heated. Place the turkey in the basket,
then rehearse in detail how you will maneuver the turkey throughout the cooking process.
First, practice slipping basket and turkey slowly and with total control
into the cold oil, so the oil will slosh the least amount possible--and definitely not out
of the pot! Then practice removing basket and turkey with no sloshing of oil. Also
practice how you will turn the turkey over, if need be, while its cooking. This
run-through should help you determine how much sloshing of oil to expect so you can make
any necessary adjustments in order to work safely and competently when the oil is hot. (Be
sure to wear closed shoes and appropriate clothing--long-sleeved shirts and pants--no
bathing suits, please!--while frying the turkey.)
Frying the turkey:
Remove basket and turkey from the cold oil. Heat the oil to 400F. Very
carefully and slowly lower the basket containing the turkey into the hot oil. Immediately
adjust flame or heat source down slightly and maintain a temperature lowered to as close
to 350F as possible. Oil should be hot enough to bubble during frying but not so hot that
Make sure the turkey is either submerged completely while frying (weight
it down if necessary), or turn it carefully, so oil doesn't slosh, about every 10 to 15
minutes. Let the turkey fry until the juices run clear when you insert a skewer into the
breast meat. Or check doneness of meat by removing basket from hot oil and cutting the
meat to the bone at the thigh-hip joint where meat is densest; the meat should look pink
but not raw. Total frying time will be from 35 to 45 minutes (approximately 3 to 3.5
minutes per pound of turkey). The fried turkey will look very dark brown when done. Don't
be afraid that is has burned; this is the right color.
Carefully remove basket and turkey from the hot oil and place the
turkey, breast side down, on a platter or pan lined with several thicknesses of paper bags
and let drain about 5 minutes, the turn turkey over to drain and cool about 15 minutes
more before slicing. Carve as you normally do and serve immediately.
Be prepared to enjoy the most succulent, moist turkey you have ever
Comments by Frank Boyer
I would not put the turkey in cold oil. I use a basket and a 40 quart
Volrath pot for 12-18 pound turkeys and five gallons of oil. I use 2 sets of long tongs
and oven gloves for moving the bird in the oil. Suspending a candy thermometer by wire
works well because it is easy to adjust to the current height of the oil, it changes when
the food is added and can't be in the way of the basket. Do this outdoors, it is very
messy! I put the bird in the basket and stand back as it is slowly lowered into the oil.
The moisture on the bird causes a large bubble up so be very careful. I wouldn't try to
yo-yo a bird into and out of 350F oil. I usually get the oil up to at least 350F so that
the oil doesn't drop below 325F when the meat is added.