There was a time when a fried turkey dinner was the epitome of a redneck Thanksgiving.
And then the rest of the world found out how delicious fried turkey is.
Suddenly, it’s culturally acceptable to fry turkeys. Fried turkey gains popularity among our neighbors to the north and west. Cooking shows feature fried turkeys. And companies have built a big business around this culinary phenomenon.
Listen, I know that there are people out there who don’t feel like they’ve had a proper Thanksgiving or Christmas diner unless they have roasted a big, fat bird. To them I say, roast if you must, but as for me and my house, we will serve the fried!
We had a lovely Thanksgiving this year at Jonathan’s parents house with his side of the family. It was one of those rare occasions when all of his siblings and all of their spouses and children could be there. We busted his grandmother out of the nursing home for the day so that both great-grandparents could be there. We even had the pleasure of having his aunt from Atlanta there. It was delightful. The food was everything we wanted it to be. Lots of turkey and dressing. A large selection of casseroles. And a table devoted entirely to desserts. Perfect!
However, what we discovered is that when you travel out of town for holidays and leave two days later leaving the left-overs behind, you really do have a hankering for the spread after you get home.
And so you cook Thanksgiving dinner #2.
Yep, you go to the grocery and buy another bird, another round of ingredients for dressing, gravy, cranberries, apples, and whatever else says “Happy Turkey Day” to you. And then the cashiers will look at you funny. But you won’t care because you are about to get the prize of fried turkey.
Thanksgiving #2 was made easy because I used my new Masterbuilt Butterball turkey fryer. The sweet folks at Masterbuilt were kind enough to let Jonathan and me keep one of the fryers the day we helped them on the Rick and Bubba Show. Lucky me! I love this model because it’s the only turkey fryer approved for INDOOR use. Yep, no more standing around a vat of bubbling oil outside. Also, it’s electric, so I just plug it in and let it go. (You will see from my pics that I did use mine outside, but that’s because my kitchen was too dark for pics and the light outside was better for photography. Totally could have put it on my kitchen counter.)
So all I used was a turkey (my fryer will accomodate a turkey up to 20 lbs. Mine was a 10.2 pounder, just like my firstborn. But I digress.), two gallons of peanut oil, a marinade injection set, and whatever shake-on seasoning you like. I used the Tony Chachare’s Creole Cajun Butter Injectable Marinade and the cajun seasoning my husband makes up and uses when he smokes chickens on his smoker. I set my turkey fryer to 375 degrees.
Step one is to thaw the bird, remove the (ahem) pleasantries from the cavity, and rinse it well.
Pat it dry with a paper towel. (Please don’t skip this step as water on your turkey will cause your seasoning to run off and when you put your turket into the oil it will pop fiercely.) Shake a liberal amount of cajun seasoning onto your bird, covering all the skin. You want a lot of the seasoning, so don’t be wimpy on the seasoning.
Inject the turkey all over with your marinade strings. (It was at this point that I discovered I could never work in the medical field. Just about hit the deck injecting my patient.)
Place the injected, coated turkey into the fryer basket breast side up.
When your oil is up to temperature, drop the basket very carefully down into the hot oil. Note that the Masterbuilt turkey fryer has a handle to lower the basket so that I don’t have to burn my hands lowering the basket. Saftey first, scouts!
Leave your turkey in the fryer for 3-4 minutes per pound or until the.internal temp reaches 165 degrees. We like ours pretty crispy, so I fried my 10.21 pound turkey for about 45 minutes and the internal temp was 190 degrees. (Another safety note: If you aren’t in the habit of checking internal temperature of meats, buy yourself a meat thermometer. They are cheap and can protect you from making your family sick. Especially on big projects like a turkey, skin color can be deceiving. It can look well done while the inside temp isn’t high enough to kill food-born bacteria.)
When it’s done, pull the basket out of the oil, resting it on the side clamp to allow the excess oil to drain off. I suggest placing the basket on a cookie sheet to transport it so that you aren’t dripping oil all over the place. Transfer your turkey to a platter or carving board to rest for about 10 minutes before carving.
Slice your bird however your daddy taught you and his daddy taught him. If your parents never taught you how to carve a turkey, here’s a tutorial:
So you should end up with something that looks a little like this:
I hope y’all enjoy cajun fried turkey as much as we do. Many thanks to Masterbuilt for the turkey fryer we used in this tutorial (but, of course, the opinions are entirely my own.) It’s one of our favorite Thanksgiving and Christmas dishes.