By Dorothy Long
Deep frying is a delicious and quick way to prepare a turkey for Thanksgiving or any holiday supper.
If done properly you will be rewarded with tender and juicy meat without absorbing extra oil from the deep frying. My mouth is watering already!
It is important to follow safety instructions and good deep frying practices! Here is a list of tips and techniques for deep frying turkey and other meat successfully.
12 Turkey Deep Frying Tips:
- Use a turkey deep fryer and ensure it has a sturdy and steady base. Some also now come with temperature controls, which are extremely handy to ensure you are cooking at the proper temperature and not overheating the oil. You will also need a food thermometer to test the turkey for doneness and heavy-duty flame-retardant mitts. It is also a good idea to keep a fire extinguisher close at hand.
- Never fry indoors! The odor, potential for spills and fire safety issues make turkey frying an outdoor activity.
- Place the turkey fryer outdoors on a level dirt or grassy area away from buildings and decks. Avoid cement or brick, as oil spills stain and may be difficult to clean up. You could also use a drip pan underneath it.
- Avoid placing the deep fryer in a windy area as that can alter the cooking process and make it more difficult to control the temperature of the fryer.
- Choose a fresh turkey or make sure it is completely thawed before deep-frying. Remove excess fat and any parts from inside the turkey. Do NOT stuff.
- Determine the amount of canola oil you need by placing the turkey, breast down, on the frying stand or in the basket. Lower into the empty pot and add water to about 2 inches (5 cm) above the turkey. Remove the turkey and note the water level. Remove the water and thoroughly dry the pot. Thoroughly dry turkey inside and out.
- Fill the pot with oil to the required measure. Do not overfill, as oil may spill out when the turkey is placed in the pot. Choose an oil with a high smoke point like canola oil. A great Canadian-grown choice too!
- Using a deep-frying thermometer, heat the oil to 375°F (190°C). This usually takes from 45 minutes to 1 hour. Since most units do not have thermostat controls, it is essential to monitor the oil’s temperature to ensure that it does not overheat.
- Once the oil is hot enough, place the turkey in the basket or on the hook provided with your turkey fryer and slowly lower it into the hot oil. Ensure the oil remains at 375°F (190°C) during cooking so that the turkey cooks properly.
- For a whole turkey, estimate 3 minutes per pound as the cooking time. Whole turkeys of about 10 lb (4.5 kg) and turkey parts are best for frying. Larger birds are harder to handle and the extra cooking time results in the skin and outer meat being overcooked.
- Remove turkey from the oil, and check for doneness using a food thermometer. Turkey is cooked when the meat thermometer reads 170°F (77 °C).
- Once deep frying is complete, allow oil to cool completely before disposing or storing it. To store oil, strain through coffee filters or cheesecloth and pour into a sealable container and place in a cool, dark place. Do not store oil in the cooking pot. It’s time for an oil change when:
• loose particles accumulate as sediment at the bottom of the storage container or are suspended in the oil.
• smoke appears on the oil’s surface before the temperature reaches 375 °F (190 °C), your oil will no longer deep fry effectively.
• the oil has a rancid or “off” smell or if it smells like the foods you’ve cooked in it. The oil should be discarded.
10 Do’s and Don’ts of Deep Frying:
- Do keep children and pets away from the deep fryer at all times.
- Do always follow the instructions that came with your deep fryer.
- Don’t stuff your turkey or use a pre-stuffed or pre-basted turkey.
- Do thaw a frozen turkey completely before immersing in the oil. If still frozen, the oil can spill over the top and be dangerous.
- Do be aware that the sides and handles of the fryer can become dangerously hot.
- Don’t over-fill the pot with oil in case it spills over and catches fire.
- Do deep-fry outside on a level dirt or grassy area and never on wooden decks or inside a garage.
- Don’t ever use water to extinguish a grease fire – have a fire extinguisher available.
- Do allow oil to cool completely before disposing or storing.
- Don’t store oil in the cooking pot.
Deep Frying Tips:
- Maintain a frying temperature of 375°F (190°C). At this temperature, batter-coated or breaded products will quickly form a protective shield, and this will prevent the oil from penetrating the food and making it greasy. The food will cook by conduction or indirect heat.
- If the oil is not hot enough, it will reach the food before the coating cooks enough to form the protective layer, resulting in oily food.
- If the oil is too hot, the outside of the food will burn before the inside of the food has had time to cook.
- Avoid adding salt to food before deep frying. The salt draws moisture to the food’s surface, which will splatter when the food is added to the hot oil. Salt also lowers the smoke point and breaks down the oil more quickly.
- Avoid crowding the deep fryer with food as it will lower the oil’s temperature, causing the food to take longer to cook.
- Preheat the oil to about 15°F (7 to 8°C) higher than its optimal deep frying temperature as this will allow the oil to return to its ‘ideal’ temperature once cold food is added to be cooked.