Go online and Google “deep-fried turkey,” and you’d think a 20-pounder is exploding every half-hour somewhere in America on Thanksgiving Day.
But I can testify that deep-fried turkey, a Romero family tradition, can indeed be cooked safely. In all the years I’ve done it, it has only been inedible once, and there was no explosion – it was just an overcooked bird.
Start by buying an electric deep fryer with a temperature control ($100 to $200). Choose one with built-in safety features, such as break-away power cords that attach with a magnet and quickly detach if the cord is pulled. That will keep the unit from tipping.
To fry your bird, use high smoke-point oil: peanut, canola or sunflower. Marinate or rub the turkey in advance; we (of course) love Cajun seasoning. You’ll want to make sure to buy a smaller turkey—eight to 10 pounds—that ensures you can fit the whole bird in at once. You certainly don’t want to fry the bird in parts.
Although manufacturers say electric deep fryers are safe to use indoors, cooking with hot, flammable oil can present safety hazards. So set up your cooking gear on the driveway or back patio.
Very, very important: Completely thaw and clean out and dry your turkey before frying. Partly frozen turkeys or watery marinades can react with oil, causing cookers to bubble over and spill. So thaw your bird in the refrigerator 24 hours for every five pounds ahead of Turkey Day. Use a hair dryer if necessary to dry the turkey’s insides. Even a hint of moisture can mean trouble because hot oil and water do not mix.
Monitor the temperature; oil that gets too hot can combust. Using your temperature control, keep that oil between 365-375 degrees Fahrenheit. The turkey should cook until its internal temperature is 170 degrees. Our rule of thumb for cooking the bird is three minutes for every pound (for example, a 10-pound bird should be done in about 30 minutes). The skin should be golden brown and, when you tear the thigh away from the body, all fluids should run clear, no pink or red.
Prevent spills by filling the unit with oil only to the line indicated. Wear safety goggles in case of splatters and use heavy-duty oven mitts to handle the lid. Of course, keep an all-purpose fire extinguisher nearby and if a fire starts, call 911 right away.
Fence up the kids and pets far, far, far away from the action. Oil stays very hot for hours after you turn off the fryer. Let it cool completely before cleaning up.
For more Romero family recipes and traditions, and of course tips and information for your house, home, castle or cabin, visit Arizona’s largest collection of homeowner DIY advice and information at RosieontheHouse.com.
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