Have you ever deep fried a turkey? If not, have you ever eaten deep fried turkey? Most people do not relate Thanksgiving with deep fried cooking. When most people hear the term “deep fried,” their initial thought often refers to a local or state fair – where virtually all four of the basic food groups are served deep fried.
The Thanksgiving Turkey consistently served in our home has been stuffed and baked in the traditional fashion. Although my opinion would be biased, I would have to say that Martha Stewart has nothing on the Thanksgiving Turkey prepared by my wife. Needless to say, you can only imagine the hesitation when it was recommended that we alter from the traditional turkey preparation to a more progressive deep fried turkey cooking method.
Although I personally have never deep fried a turkey, I have enjoyed the incredibly tender and juicy deep fried turkey served in a restaurant. When one first hears the term “deep fried,” the immediate assumption is that the meat is greasy and your cholesterol levels will shoot sky high. Ironically, there is no grease. The skin immediately seals the meat allowing it self-baste in its own natural juices – which made the idea of deep frying a turkey for Thanksgiving somewhat appealing.
A compromise was reached. Since we were celebrating Thanksgiving with another family (who owns a deep fryer), it was decided that we would prepare two smaller turkeys – one traditionally stuffed and baked and the other deep fried. It appeared to be a great compromise and one which I fully supported. The error in my judgment was the assumption that since the deep fryer was owned that there was sufficient knowledge of its operation and process.
The traditionally baked turkey was washed, stuffed, and prepared in the morning. It had been in the oven for several hours when it became time to begin preparation on the deep fried turkey. One key benefit of deep frying a turkey is the significantly reduced cooking time – so proper timekeeping is critical. With proper safety consideration, it was decided to place the deep fryer a respectable 10 feet from the home – which meant that it was located on the back patio approximately 3 feet from the pool.
The oil was hot and the turkey was freshly washed. The turkey was placed on the hook and then lowered into the hot oil. Quick Safety Tip….it is extremely important to fully dry all water off the turkey before lowering it into the hot oil. Ironically, the aforementioned safety tip was not adequately followed which resulted in a reenactment of the eruption of Mount Saint Helens. When the wet turkey hit the hot oil, oil shot in the air approximately two before falling onto the patio and into the pool. Fortunately, there were no injuries. As he lowered the bird in the oil initiating the eruption, he used the lid of the fryer to protect him from potential injury (like a Roman Gladiator in battle).
Due to the excitement (and our obvious desire not to speak of the incident with the wives), we failed to set the timer. Therefore, the cooking time was a guestimation at best. When my wife asked me to help her remove her turkey from the oven, it was an indicator that the other turkey should be removed from the fryer as well. I pulled my wife’s traditional turkey out of the oven. It was golden brown with a heavenly aroma that filled the entire kitchen. It was truly Thanksgiving.
As she removed the stuffing from the turkey, we went outside to pull the other turkey from the fryer. To our amazement, the deep-fried turkey was the same golden brown color with an equally appetizing aroma. The two proud husbands walked into the kitchen holding the turkey as if it were some prized possession. The traditional turkey would be sliced first as the deep fried turkey cooled.
There was enough turkey meat from the traditional turkey to easily feed both families which meant double the leftovers with also having a deliciously juicy deep fried turkey as well. Or…..have very few leftovers and be extremely thankful for my wife’s insistence in baking a traditional turkey since when we attempted to slice the deep fried turkey it imploded like the turkey in National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. Apparently, the guestimation of time was significantly under-estimated resulting in what could only be described as petrified turkey.
It was quite the memorable Thanksgiving. The husbands were incredibly thankful that we were blessed with the ability to eat a delicious traditional Thanksgiving dinner. The wives were incredibly thankful not only for the enjoyable Thanksgiving meal but also a good document reference point in which the husbands were miserably wrong and the wives once again saved the day. Personally, I was thankful for Dawn dishwashing detergent for it took several bottles to remove all of the oil from the patio and pool.
The deep fried turkey incident occurred about 5 years ago, I asked my wife this year if she wanted to change it up and maybe cook the turkey differed this year. She gave me the look that all husbands know and said……….seriously? Gobble Gobble…
Husband, father, coffee connoisseur and lover of all things hockey. At 51 I sometimes wonder have I done enough. I have been married to my best friend for 30 years. She knows all my faults and loves me anyway, As a father of “almost always” perfect boys, I am always surprised at what life has to offer. It is messy, scary, thrilling, and always fun.