Monday, December 14, 2009

Fried Turkey

A light falls onto a stage with a podium. A beautiful blond walks to the microphone and says

I would like to take this opportunity to thank my friends and family for making this possible. Without them, I would not have had the curiosity, gumption, and ability to cook a fried turkey.

She lifts a turkey leg aloft in a cheers gesture

Let's rewind, shall we?
For years, I have been hearing how fried turkey is moist and delicious. I have also been hearing (a la A Christmas Story) you will just burn your house down from my parents. I live close to home, so every holiday season I enjoy the fruits of my mother's labor. She is a fantastic cook, and has the holiday meal preparation down to a science. I truly enjoy her traditional meals. But this year, I was feeling ambitious, so I decided to host my own Thanksgiving dinner, and to fry the turkey. In order to not conflict with family obligations, my roommate and I decided that we would do the turkey dinner for FHE the Monday after Thanksgiving. I enlisted friends to bring sides, and I prepared the turkey and myself following this handy set of instructions.

Thanksgiving was a lovely day in North Carolina, 70 degrees and sunny. We ate outside. Fast forward to Monday.... torrential downpour, gusting winds...... the worst weather to try to fry something outside 10 feet from any structure. I attempted to set up the pot and get the fire going to warm up the oil..... when the lid blew off, and I had to chase it down the street, I was ready to give up. Thank goodness for friends who helped shield the fire, kept the rain out of the oil so it wouldn't splatter, and in general helped me keep my sanity. We were all soaking wet, but it was worth it when we tasted that moist white meat. I will say, if you are a dark meat fan, the dark meat didn't taste any different than oven baking, so I don't think frying a turkey is worth it for dark meat. But the white meat didn't need any gravy at all, so that is totally worth it.

For those of you who are now considering your own adventure into frying, here are some keys to success:
1. Read all the directions, and DEFROST and dry off that turkey so no water hits your oil!
2. Set up the turkey fryer the day before because they do not come preassembled
3. You need at least three sets of hands to get the burner going and the oil in the pot (one hand to hold the lighter, one hand to hold the valves, and one hand to hold the safety button... it is easiest if these hands belong to different people).
4. You must commit to sitting by the pot with a fire extinguisher for the entire 2 hour process. If there are other things you want done at the same time as the turkey (potatoes, other food, etc) you must enlist other people to do those items, as the pot cannot be left alone at all. Ever. This is the main guarantee that nothing will burn down.

I followed all these instructions, and here is the happy result:

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