I will give you the benefit of my experience concerning cooking a turkey by using a deep fryer.
It has been said that "practice makes perfect", but it is hard to practice when you only cook one bird each year. However, as of this season, I have cooked a total of eight birds, and I will tell you what I have learned. The bird cooked this year (2006) is the best one I have done yet.
First, let's review the common instructions for frying a bird. The instructions that came with my frying kit said to heat the oil to 350°F and then put the bird into the hot oil. You are then to keep the oil at 350°F until the bird is done; and, there is a formula, based on the weight of the bird, to determine how long the bird should be cooked.
The first year that I fried a turkey, I followed the instructions to the letter, and it was almost a disaster. First of all, when you put the bird into the 350°F hot oil, the interior of the bird gets hot suddenly and causes the water inside the turkey to boil suddenly; this creates a geyser of steam and hot oil. I lost 1/2 of my oil to the geyser effect, and had a mess all over the carport concrete. Following years, I tried putting the bird in at 250°F, but I still had a geyser of oil, even-though it was not as vigorous as when the oil was at 350°F. After inserting the bird at 250°F and waiting for the geyser to subside, I increased the heat of my flame in order to raise the temperature of the oil to 350°F to finish cooking it. But, then I had problems with the oil getting too hot (up around 400°F). This method was less messy, but I always seemed to end up with a turkey that was hard and rubbery on the outside surface, and cool and bloody in the center.
Even though I only cook one bird each year, I often spend a great deal of time thinking about the cooking process and how to better improve it. This past year, I finally pulled out my Physics and Chemistry books, and applied the principles of Thermodynamics to a theoretical model, in order to see if I could improve the process of cooking the bird. This year I applied those principles, and it produced the best cooked turkey thus far. Let me share my current method with you:
1 - Obviously, you want to start with a clean pot.
2 - Light the burner on your cooker.
3 - Put at least one gallon of oil in your pot and place it on the burner.
4 - Lower the turkey into the oil.
5 - Add more oil until the turkey is almost covered in oil; you want to leave about 1/2 inch of turkey exposed. The oil will expand as it is heated and will go ahead and cover the rest of the turkey. If you completely cover the turkey with oil, you run the risk of the oil overflowing once it gets to cooking temperature.
6 - Insert a thermometer into the oil (my fry kit came with a thermometer that clips on to the side of the pot, so I assume you have a similar set up). Increase your flame so that the oil starts to heat; you want to heat the oil to 250F° over 10-15 minutes, so you will need an medium flame.
7 - Once you get the oil to 250°F, you are at your target cooking temperature (forget about trying to get to 350°F). Reduce your heat as needed to keep the oil at 250°F. This is a critical step; you have to watch the temperature of the oil closely at this point, or it will get too hot.
8 - Forget about trying to determine how long to cook the turkey based upon its weight. After getting the oil to 250°F, cook the bird for at least 30 minutes before checking to see if it is done. The determination of whether or not the bird is done is accomplished by using a meat thermometer to check the internal temperature of the bird. I use a meat thermometer with a 3-inch probe that is graduated from 0°F to 220°F; the internal temperature of the bird needs to be 180°F in order to be done. Pull the turkey about two-thirds of the way out of the pot, and insert the meat thermometer into the thigh of the turkey, until three-fourths of the probe has been inserted into the turkey; the temperature should reach 180° within five seconds of inserting the thermometer probe. If the temperature does not reach 180° within 5 seconds, put the bird back into the oil and cook it for an additional 5-10 minutes before checking the temperature again. I have done this enough that I am able to estimate the when the bird is done based upon the color change of the cooking oil; in time, you should be able to do the same, but I still always check the temperature of the bird with the meat thermometer in order to ascertain whether or not it has finished cooking.
The above outlined steps produce a turkey that is well cooked, without any bloody center; the meat is tender and moist and has a wonderful flavor. I do not know exactly how your instructions read, but mine said to put the turkey in the pot and then add water to cover the bird; then remove the bird and measure the water in order to ascertain how much oil will be needed to cook the turkey. This is very messy and quite inconvenient. By placing the bird in the pot and then finishing adding the oil to the appropriate level, you avoid the mess and complications of measuring water. By putting the turkey into the cool oil and gradually bringing it to the cooking temperature of 250°, you completely avoid the geyser of oil from the center of the turkey.
—The preceding unsigned comment was added by Mierlo (talk • contribs) 03:35, 27 December 2006 (UTC). I just moved it from the main article, this is not my text and I cook my turkeys at 350°F Frank van Mierlo 05:02, 28 December 2006 (UTC)
I do three or four turkeys per year and have yet to see this "geyser effect" in the eight years I have been doing this. I can only presume this would be caused by water or ice in the cavity of the bird, a simple thing to avoid. --Gadget850 ( Ed) 14:05, 27 December 2006 (UTC)
I've done multiple deep fried turkeys every Thanksgiving for the past decade or so. I strongly disagree with the notion of putting the bird in first and then heating up the oil. That will result in too much oil penetrating the meat of the bird.
One key to avoiding too much bubbling is a FULLY thawed, room temperature, bird that has been patted completely dry. This goes a long way toward reducing a lot of the initial bubbling.
Another is gradually lowering the bird into the oil. I find this works best as a two-person job using a simple broomstick through the lifting hook (not the rack for the bird itself). This lets you take your time lowering the bird. There will always be some degree of bubbling. But a slow lowering allows the steam to rise safely out the center of the bird. Since the oil is already hot this also seals up the bird, preventing too much oil from penetrating the meat. I find it takes about 2 minutes (on average) to fully lower it into the oil.
Otherwise I agree on ignoring the notions of specific time/weight calculations. I also use the half-hour mark to do my first temperature check. But then I'm usually cooking at least a 17lb bird, a smaller bird would be checked at, say, 20 minutes. Today I just did three 20lb birds in a row. They each took just under an hour to get to 155-160F in the middle of the breast meat. I pull them at that temp and then let them rest for 30 minutes. They continue cooking and usually peak at 165-175F. I've seen recipes that call for leaving it in the oil until 165 or even 180F and that makes for an overcooked bird that's tougher and dryer than necessary.
Also note that if you inject the bird (and you really must to get the best flavor) that liquid will eventually bubble out due to the heat. This make cause a bit of bubbling later in the cooking process. I usually seem a strong bit of bubbling at about 10 minutes into the process and then randomly during the next half-hour. After that it's pretty stable.
Finally, use the right kind of oil and KNOW it's smoke point. This is the temperature at which the oil will set itself on fire (even without an actual flame touching it). I prefer to use peanut oil as it's smoke point is among the highest of cooking oils. That and it imparts no off flavors and can be used to cook several birds. Of course, those will peanut allergy issues should probably choose something else. Wkearney99 (talk) 04:57, 25 November 2011 (UTC)
We used our turkey fryer for the first time today. The oil took about 15 minutes to heat up, and the turkey took about 20 minutes to cook. I thought the turkey tasted quite good. The only thing is that a lot of caution needs to be taken when using a turkey fryer, or property damage and injuries can occur.
JesseG 03:43, Nov 26, 2004 (UTC)
"There is also a possibility that an overheated turkey fryer can explode."
Found it- it was the 2004 Holiday Special. It looks like the UL video shows them dumping a quantity of water into the boiling oil. Never a good thing to do. --Gadget850 ( Ed) 21:11, 26 September 2006 (UTC)
how to deep fry a turkey?
It seems like this article should explain how to safely deep fry a turkey, rather than simply saying what not to do. It doesn't have to be a recipe, maybe just a simple explanation of what to do. If we leave it to people to figure it out themselves they are just going to go light themselves on fire while spilling hot oil everywhere. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Gary2863 (talk • contribs)
While this should not be a how-to, I did expand the safety section. --Gadget850 ( Ed) 20:26, 21 August 2006 (UTC)