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Deep Frying a Turkey

Some people may choose to deep fat fry the turkey instead of the traditional roasting for their turkey dinner. Deep fat frying results in a juicy product because the hot fat seals the outside and the skin becomes crisp. However, the process can be dangerous. Due to increasing reports of fires and burns related to deep fat fryers, Underwriters Laboratory does not certify any turkey fryers with the UL mark of approval.

In order to fry a turkey, a deep fat fryer or a 40 to 60 quart pot with a basket, burner, and propane gas tank are needed. If using a pot, it should be larger than the burner. Be sure to follow the manufacturer's instructions exactly for the fryer's use. A candy thermometer should be used to check oil temperature and a meat thermometer is necessary to check the meat for doneness. An all-purpose fire extinguisher should be close by. Never use water or a water-based extinguisher, as it will cause an oil fire to spread. You may need assistance from another person.

Location or Placement of Fryer

Cooking Preparation
According to the National Turkey Federation, smaller turkeys, 8 to10 pounds, and turkey parts such as breasts, wings, and thighs are best for frying. Approximately 5 gallons of cooking oil are necessary - more for large turkeys. Only oil with a high smoke point should be used, such as peanut, canola, corn. or sunflower. Peanut oil works the best as it adds flavor, but some people may be allergic to it.

Be sure the turkey is thawed completely. Remove giblets and neck. Remove skin if desired. DO NOT STUFF turkeys for deep-frying. Turkey can be injected with a marinade, coated with breading (such as Shake n Bake), or seasoned with a rub before cooking. The turkey may be injected and refrigerated overnight for more flavor. Approximately one cup of marinade is needed for an 8- to 10-pound turkey, 2/3 injected in the breast and 1/3 in the rest of the turkey. If you're not using a marinade, use paper towels to pat the turkey dry inside and out before inserting the bird into the oil.

To determine the correct amount of oil, place the turkey in the basket and place in the pot. Add water until it reaches 1 to 2 inches above the turkey. Remove the turkey and note the water level, using a ruler to measure the distance from the top of the pot to the surface of the water. Pour out the water and dry the pot thoroughly. Be sure to measure for oil before breading or marinating the turkey.

Frying the Turkey
The National Turkey Federation recommends you heat the oil to 350°F checking with a candy thermometer. Depending on the amount of oil used, this usually takes between 45 minutes and one hour. Be sure to keep the oil temperature above 340°F or oil will begin seeping into the bird. Once the oil has reached 350°F, place the turkey in the basket, feet up, then slowly and carefully lower into the pot. For safety reasons, it is best to have two people lowering and raising the turkey. Do not use a lid while frying. Whole turkeys require approximately 3 to 5 minutes per pound to cook.

After frying, remove turkey, drain oil from cavity and check internal temperature with a meat thermometer. The breast must reach 170°F; the thigh should be 180°F not touching bone. If it's not done, return to the hot oil immediately for additional cooking. A turkey that is cooked thoroughly should start to float.

Turkey parts require approximately 4 to 5 minutes per pound to reach appropriate temperatures. Chicken and Cornish game hens require about 9 minutes per pound because oil cannot circulate as well in smaller cavities. Allow the turkey to drain for 20 to 30 minutes before carving.

Storage of Oil
The following recommendations are from the Institute of Shortening and Edible Oils in Washington, D.C.

Additional Safety Precautions Food Safety Tips

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