The South likes its turkey fried

Published 5:53 am Wednesday, November 10, 2004

By Staff
Based on a recent national survey, a surprising 17 percent of Americans plan to deep fry a turkey this holiday season. Believe it or not, the majority of the frying will be done here in the South with the Midwest closing in second.
The idea of frying turkeys was borrowed from Louisiana Cajun Country. It offers a change of pace from the traditional roast turkey and dressing and will be quite popular during the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays. Fried turkeys have crisp skin and are usually juicy and tender all the way to the bone. According to Dr. Robert Keith, an Alabama Cooperative Extension System nutritionist, there is nothing wrong with eating fried turkey, so long as it's limited to only a few special occasions during the year.
As a rule of thumb, he recommends removing the outer layer of the meat which tends to be higher in fat. He also recommends pacing your eating during holiday meals. Instead of filling your plate with heaping servings of food, sample a little of everything.
Also remember that frying a turkey can be a tricky business - which is why Dr. Weese, Alabama Cooperative Extension System food scientist offers a series of cooking tips.
This kind of frying is done outdoors in a large kettle of hot cooking oil over an open flame. Choose a safe location for cooking the turkey outside.
While consumers have lots of choices when it comes to selecting the kind of cooking oil in which to fry turkeys, most Cajun chefs recommend pure peanut oil. Peanut oil has a high smoke point that's better suited for frying and gives the turkey a terrific nutty flavor. The oil also sears the outside of the turkey quickly. That seals in the flavor of the injectable marinade and keeps the turkey moist.
Next wash turkey and remove giblets and neck from the cavity. Season liberally with salt and other spices. You may want to inject marinade into the breast, thighs and legs (one ounce of marinade for every pound). This helps keep the turkey most.
Pat the turkey dry inside and out
Pour peanut oil into the pot reaching the fill line. Heat the oil to 350 degrees F.
Place the turkey in the fryer basket, breast side up. Slowly and carefully, lower it into the hot oil and cook 3-5 minutes per pound. The oil temperature will drop
The turkey is done when a food thermometer measures 180 degrees F. in the thigh. Remove the turkey from oil, drain the cavity and set it on brown paper bags that have been lined with paper towels. The skin will be dark brown to almost black. Let the turkey cool for about 20 minutes before carving. Enjoy!