I have fried a turkey the traditional way once. ONCE. It was at Bunny and Paul’s house in Knoxville and here’s how it went.
I buy a turkey frying kit for about $80. I like fried turkey plus I regularly engage in pastimes that are traditionally male like competition barbecue, high heat grilling and never asking for directions. Frying turkeys falls into that category. I load the turkey fryer into the CC and head to Knoxville with King Daddy and Dammit Boy for Thanksgiving.
I buy about $40 of oil. I’m already starting to get skeptical. This turkey has already cost me more than $100. And that’s without actually buying the turkey. Plus, my mother in law is not pleased.
“Where are you going to fry the turkey?” Bunny asks skeptically.
“On the driveway,” I answer confidently.
“No, you’re not. There are a lot of children and dogs in this neighborhood. It’s a fire hazard.”
True enough. “How about the basement patio?”
“Just don’t get too close to the house. Your father in law already has a heart condition.”
So I lug the turkey frying kit and the 5 gallons of oil downstairs and set up shop. This is going to be great!
Long story short, it wasn’t. First you have to fill the giant turkey cooking vessel with water and lower the turkey in to gauge how much oil you need. If the boiling oil spills over the top as you lower the turkey, you will die. Then you have to completely dry the turkey. If you don’t, when you lower the turkey into the vessel any residual water will cause the boiling hot oil to shoot into the air like a lunar rocket. And you will die. And then, of course, as you are frying the turkey – should you still be alive – you cannot use a digital probe thermometer to check for doneness because if you stick the probe in the boiling hot oil. Well, you know.
And then there’s the matter of cleaning up. The turkey fryer instructions say you can strain the oil and save it for another use. And I actually did that. Once. It sat in my garage for six months before I decided that it didn’t look quite right. I think I disposed of it illegally. Don’t tell.
So what I use now is the Char-Broil Big Easy TRU-Infrared Oil-less Turkey Fryer. Yes, I blog for them but my love affair with all things Char-Broil goes back way before the All-Star team was formed. When I wrote a cookbook about grilling, I needed a gas grill and the salesman at Lowe’s took me straight to the Char-Broil grills. I loved that first Char-Broil so much I almost moved it into the bedroom with me.
So how, you may ask, can an “oil-less turkey fryer” fry a turkey? Honestly, I don’t understand it. It’s magic. I believe. I was hooked after my first bird. I get shatteringly crispy skin, a juicy moist interior and no clean up. Actually, I do not believe the Char-Broil folks brag on this as much as they should. After the turkey’s done, just leave the heat on for about 15 minutes and it burns away any debris. And the Big Easy costs less than the old-fashioned fryer when you add in the cost of oil. With no potentially deadly results.
So now I use it for turkey, but also for pork butts, chickens, pork loins – any large cut of meat. With Thanksgiving coming up next month, you might want to think about getting a Big Easy. It also clears up oven space for some of the equally important stuff like the dressing, mac and cheese, and green bean bundles. Tell me you have green bean bundles at your house on Turkey Day. No? We’ll have to have a talk.