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Forget the oven, deep-fry a turkey

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  • Jamie Rahm
    Published Wednesday, November 22, 2000 / The Contra Costa Times Forget the oven, deep-fry a turkey By Beatrice Ojakangas KNIGHT RIDDER NEWSPAPERS When Spanish
    Message 1 of 1 , Nov 4, 2001
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      Published Wednesday, November 22, 2000 / The Contra Costa Times

      Forget the oven, deep-fry a turkey

      By Beatrice Ojakangas
      KNIGHT RIDDER NEWSPAPERS

      When Spanish explorers first encountered turkeys in the New World,
      they found a particularly formidable fowl.

      According to one explorer, "they were much greater in bigness than
      the peacock, and really fast. Turkeys could fly at speeds up to 55
      miles an hour and run at an impressive 25 miles an hour."

      Marathon turkeys, you might say.

      Cooking turkey today can feel like a marathon to the Thanksgiving
      cook, in any kitchen, especially with just one oven and four burners
      to work with. But, there are ways to get the turkey out of the
      kitchen.

      Some cooks are heading outdoors to deep-fry or smoke their birds.
      Others are experimenting with brines to keep their turkeys moist.

      Kathie Luoma, my sister-in-law, has a great solution to the
      turkey-day marathon, one that no doubt is being used by other
      ingenious women: Let the guys do the turkey!

      Good for the women, because the guys (and the bird) won't take up
      valuable kitchen space. Good for the guys, because they love playing
      with new and slightly dangerous equipment -- like the cooker you use
      to deep fry a turkey.

      "I have no idea how Gene fries the turkey," Kathie says of her
      husband, my brother. "I just cook the rest of the meal, and Gene
      deep-fries the turkey, which comes out very tender, moist and
      delicious."

      After hearing rave reviews from nephews and brothers, I decided to
      deep-fry a turkey myself. The first step: Buy a turkey fryer.

      There are several brands and sizes available. I settled on one with a
      30-quart pot, which comes with a stand to hold the turkey upright and
      a handle to lower and lift the bird out of the oil. Some cooker sets
      include a syringe for injecting marinade into the turkey before
      cooking, a rub for the outside of the turkey and a thermometer to
      check the temperature of the oil.

      Kits range from about $60 to more than $100. The oil is a separate
      buy; peanut oil costs about $20 for a 35-pound jug, but you can
      re-use it several times.

      When I bought my cooker, I did what I do whenever I get a new piece
      of equipment: I read and follow the directions exactly. Then, based
      on the results, I apply my own preferences regarding marinades, rubs
      and cooking times.

      Regardless of the time of year, deep-frying a turkey is an outdoor
      activity and there are dangers and warnings along the way.

      1. With 3 gallons of boiling oil on a propane burner, you don't want
      it sitting on a wooden deck or near anything flammable.

      2. Position the propane tank upwind from the flame itself, and at
      least 24 inches from the flame; it's best to keep a 10-foot distance
      from a flammable surface. It's not a good idea to do it in a tent,
      either.

      3. Before you do anything to the turkey, it is helpful to use water
      to measure the capacity of the stock pot (with the turkey immersed)
      to determine just how much oil you need. Be careful not to have so
      much that the oil bubbles over the sides, which could cause a huge
      grease fire.

      4. My manual also offered warnings in big red letters (no doubt for
      the guys who don't pay much attention to directions): "Don't put your
      face over the flame when you light the fire." "Use oven mitts when
      handling the hot stuff." "Stand back as you immerse the turkey into
      the hot fat."
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