Administrator’s Note: Mac Baxter is a friend of all four writers here at TTAF. His family has the longstanding tradition of cooking great food and inviting everyone in the city of Lexington to partake in said food throughout the year. Seriously, you can show up at his parent’s house for Thanksgiving, everyone else does. Just tell them that Bubba invited you. Mac has graciously offered to share with you how he fries turkeys every year. Have a look and enjoy. Also, feel free to share this post liberally with your friends, family, and fellow turkey lovers.
Thanksgiving. The ﬁrst great American holiday. One might argue that Columbus Day is the ﬁrst great American holiday. WRONG. I do not consider Columbus Day a holiday. Last time I checked, Iʼve had to work on the past 13 Columbus days. I also refuse to
celebrate a day that marks somebody elseʼs lack of geographical knowledge. Plus, the guy was a gloriﬁed viking. Sorry. Iʼm gonna start over and attempt to avoid this tangent.
Thanksgiving. The ﬁrst great American holiday. A wonderful day full of food, football and (you guessed it) more food. When families come together, whether they want to or not, to remember our ancestors harmonizing with the natives of this great land. We all know the story. Pilgrims ﬂeeing Europe in order to freely practice their religion (weʼll look past the fact that they were Puritans), found themselves in over their head in the New World. Certain death loomed as basic survival skills were left behind in order to make room for witch-burning stakes and extra buckle hats in the Mayﬂowerʼs limited cargo space. With the help of Squanto and his Native American cronies, the Pilgrims learned to ﬁsh, hunt, farm, and other skills necessary for living. If you recall every history book ever written, he showed how burying a ﬁsh in the dirt would help enrich the soil and yield plentiful crops. It also results in ﬁsh ﬂavored potatoes but thatʼs beside the point. To thank these kind natives, the new inhabitants prepared a giant feast for them. And thereʼs where we come in.
Thanksgiving meals have evolved from the Horn of Plenty into turkey centered pig-outs with stufﬁng, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, grits (God help you if you forget the grits), greens, an assortment of pies and anything else that you can pile onto your plate. However, most of the time the turkey is dry and nasty, hence the boat full of gravy required to lube it down. What if I told you that there was a turkey preparation that would change your life and the way you think of Thanksgiving? Deep
frying. Yes, deep-fried turkey will turn any Thanksgiving into…. well whateverʼs better than Thanksgiving. Masters Sunday with a giant slab of ribs and a jug of sweet tea?? Anyway, frying has gained some popularity in the past few years so itʼs nothing new. It results in the moistest, most delicious turkey one could imagine. All in a fraction of cook time. Plus, itʼs easy to do. In the decade that Iʼve been frying turkeys, Iʼve learned a few things. Let me share with you some tips Iʼve picked up along the way.
1) DONʼT BE AN IDIOT. Letʼs get this tip out of the way ﬁrst. This is a dangerous cooking technique, and you can easily burn the house, shed, dog house, whatever down to the ground if you donʼt use your head. Again, DONʼT BE AN IDIOT. Iʼll go into detail in later steps.
2) GET A FRYER. These can be purchased anywhere. 35 quarts is a good size. Propane gas fueled. Make sure you have plenty of propane. One Thanksgiving, we didnʼt check the amount of propane we had prior to frying. It ended with me speeding
to the local gas station to get a new tank as precious seconds passed with our bird sitting in rapidly cooling oil. All fryers come with accessories like skewers and thermometers. Stuff that you will need during the preparation so donʼt discard these items. If you get an oil-less fryer, close this browser window now and go listen to Coldplay or something. Youʼve lost your man-card.
3) FILL THE FRYER. Peanut oil. Peanut oil. Peanut oil. PURE peanut oil. Not soybean oil or a peanut/soybean hybrid oil. Peanut oil will give you the best results. And we all want those juicy, succulent results. Most fryers have a ﬁll line. Fill to the ﬁll line. I canʼt stress that enough. You donʼt want your birds hind parts sticking out of the oil whilst the rest is getting fried. Nothing kills a Thanksgiving feast like cold turkey ass. Too much oil, however, will result in a ﬁery waterfall of scalding liquid that will certainly create a holiday to remember. You need to ﬁnd the perfect amount. If you fry more than one like we do, some of that oil gets soaked into the meat. So youʼre losing oil volume every time you take a turkey out. Make sure to compensate
for that at the beginning. You canʼt pour cold oil into 350 degree oil in order to get it back to the ﬁll line.
4) FIRE IT UP. Lay down cardboard underneath the fryer to make clean up easier. Also, fryer location is critical. This is where DONʼT BE AN IDIOT comes into play. We put ours on the back patio. Ours is a ﬂat slab of concrete that isnʼt covered. The
driveway would work along with the front porch. As long as itʼs FLAT and UNCOVERED and CONCRETE. DO NOT fry in the garage. DO NOT fry in the yard. If you choose to fry in the house, who am I to argue with natural selection. You want
the oil to reach up to 350 degrees F. No more. No less
5) FRY. We have some fun and throw some frozen Twinkies in the oil before we do the birds. They take 10 seconds to fry and make for a good diabetes inducing snack. Next is the bird. SLOWLY lower it into the 350 degree oil. SLOWLY. DONʼT BE AN IDIOT. An oven mitt may be useful here to avoid little grease burns. Thereʼs gonna be a lot of oil ﬂying around. Think of a school of piranha feasting on a Spring Breaker. The accessories that are included with the fryer should make lowering the turkey easy. Once sheʼs in, set the timer according to the turkeyʼs weight. Past experiences have taught me to ADD AN ADDITIONAL 5 MINUTES to the calculated cooking time.
Thank me later.
– 4 1/2 minutes per pound for FULL TURKEY
– 5 minutes per pound for BREAST
The ﬁrst 5 minutes require a lot of babysitting. Especially with the temperature of the oil. The turkey acts as a giant ice-cube and will drop the oil temperature. Give it some more gas and level it out to 350 degrees. Continue to check on the temperature periodically. The more you hover around 350, the better the turkey will end up. In the mean time, enjoy a nice bloody mary and a fried Twinkie.
6) TIMEʼS UP. GET The TURKEY OUT. Use the provided accessories to pull the turkey out. DONʼT BE AN IDIOT. Check the temperature of the meat. You want 180 degrees, but remember the meat continues to cook after you get it out of the oil. We do about
5-6 breasts plus a full turkey every year. My brother-in-law and I have two fryers roaring simultaneously. We average about 30 people, so the ﬁrst turkey rarely gets to see the table due to the constant picking.
Tony Chachares’ seasoning
White wine (cheap)
Rub the outside of the bird with the Tony Chachares. Get all the nooks and crannies. The injection consists of STRAINED italian dressing and white wine. Sorry, exact amounts are unknown. You want the wine smell to over power the dressing. Sprinkle in a little more Tony Chachares and inject. Again, nooks and crannies. Cover with plastic wrap and foil, and refrigerate over night.
Asian (my favorite)
1/2 cup plum wine or Sake
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup rice vinegar
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 tsp. ginger powder
1 tsp. garlic powder
Heat the wine or Sake with all the other ingredients until completely blended. Inject throughout the bird while still warm. No rub, but I squeeze mandarin oranges on the outside of the turkey. Cover with plastic wrap and foil, and refrigerate over night.
Enjoy, and happy frying!