Turkey Talk: Safety Tips for Deep Frying

Thanksgiving is near, and people across our country will observe the day with a grand feast.  These meals will more than likely have turkey as the primary protein.  Many, like myself, will roast the bird in the oven, while others will opt to deep fry.  Turkey frying is a fairly popular cooking technique where an entire turkey is submerged in oil and fried until done.  Sadly, homes and people are damaged every year as a result of fires started while frying turkeys.  Gallons of oil overflow the cooking vat, make contact with the open burner flame and spread fire to the immediate surroundings, which usually are awnings, porches, houses and people. 

Fried turkey, when done right, is extremely moist and delicious.  Personally, I’d never fry a turkey, not because of the potential danger, but because of splatter and the massive amount of cooking oil to dispose of!  I’d rather buy one somewhere than go through the work. 

But there are those for whom the work is worth the reward, and that’s okay.  The success of the cooking and the day will rely on the precautions you take before pouring the oil into the fryer.  Alton Brown, Food Network’s celebrity cook and science geek, devotes an entire episode of his series Good Eats to the art of turkey frying.  In the episode, Brown demonstrates his turkey derrick, a device designed to submerge the bird into the vat of hot cooking oil while the cook/operator stands away at a safe distance.  It’s impressive when you see it in action, and what’s better, when used correctly and with other safety precautions, you avoid the risks that typically lead to those flaming turkey catastrophes!  The derrick employs common household hardware that you might have around the house already, and a few that you’ll need to secure from the hardware store. 

I prefer to brine my turkey before roasting in a fast then slow oven.  The brine recipe I last used comes from Brown’s cookbook I’m Just Here for the Food; he also has a recipe on the Food Network site.  The meat comes out very tender and moist, with hints of flavoring from the brine.  What’s best, there’s less risk of fire! 

However you cook your turkey, please exercise caution to insure a safe and tasty holiday! 


Additional turkey frying safety tips from: 

Underwriters Laboratory – which includes another video of turkey frying gone wrong;  

Epicurious.com – safety tips plus video demo, equipment list and recipes 

Hormel Foods ; and 

LouAna Peanut Oil  

(The latter sources are not meant to be endorsements, by the way.  Many more safety tips as well as methods and recipes can be found on the web) 

Here are some tips that a US Navy sailor learned the hard way!:  http://www.safetycenter.navy.mil/Articles/n-z/turkeyfryer.htm

Published in: on November 5, 2007 at 9:36 pm  Leave a Comment  

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