Once the secret of the South, a turkey fryer is your magic ingredient for outdoor entertaining. Check in with our deep turkey fryer safety tips, then put the following recipes to the taste test.
Secret Trick #1: Turkey fryer preflight check
A small bird, 15 pounds or less, will turn out best in your turkey deep fryer. Always remove giblets before frying, or you'll have a mess. Fry birds with legs pointing up. If you make a small cut between the leg-thigh joint, oil can drain out more easily when you remove the bird. If you lower the bird into the turkey fryer very slowly, you'll minimize the spits and sprays of hot oil.
Southern Dry Rub Deep Fried Turkey
This simple, classic recipe lets the bird, and your turkey fryer, do the talking. Simply exquisite.
1 tbsp salt
2 tsp fresh ground black pepper
2 tsp garlic powder or 1 clove fresh garlic, minced
1 tsp cayenne pepper (more if you like it spicier)
Mix ingredients, and rub well onto dry, room-temperature turkey. No need to wait; it can go immediately into the oil.
Secret Trick #2: Dipstick
To use just the right amount of oil, place your turkey in the turkey fryer standing up, then fill the tank with water to just above the turkey. Remove the turkey, then mark the water level with a pencil line on the outside of the tank. This line will be your oil fill level. Dump the water, dry the tank, and fill it with oil up to the line. It will be exactly the right amount for your turkey.
Sage Molasses Brined Deep Fried Turkey
Brined turkey is amazingly moist and succulent, more so when cooked in your turkey fryer. It's a snap if you can plan a day ahead, and it's so good you might cry.
1-1/2 cups coarse salt
3/4 cup dark brown sugar
3/4 cup light molasses
1 handful each fresh thyme and sage
Open a roaster bag or a 30-gallon plastic bag in a large bowl. Put your cleaned, thawed turkey in the bag. In another bowl, whisk all other ingredients with 4 quarts of water until salt and sugar are dissolved, then toss in a tray of ice cubes. Pour this mixture into the turkey bag, and refrigerate for 20 hours.
Secret Trick #3: Juice it up
Any citrus that you add to a marinade, such as lemon or orange juice, will act as a meat tenderizer. Never marinate for more than 12 hours, though, because the citric acid will start to cook your bird.
Lemon Pepper Turkey Fryer
Bright and light, the flavorful leftovers are ideal on salads.
1/2 cup light olive oil
2 tbsp fresh ground pepper
1 tbsp coarse salt
1/4 cup honey
2 tbsp ground thyme
Juice of two lemons
Combine all ingredients, then rub generously over the turkey. Cover and refrigerate for 2-6 hours. If you have a turkey roasting bag, you can put the turkey and marinade in the bag before refrigerating, then flip the bird every half hour to help distribute the flavors. This marinade is perfect for injecting: see Secret Trick #4 below.
Secret Trick #4: Stick it
Using a poultry syringe or marinade injector (same thing, different name) you can inject your marinade directly into the meat, every two inches or so. Make as few holes as possible: they let marinade in but later let juices out.
Hot Flash Turkey
1 cup Italian dressing
1 tbsp garlic powder
1 tbsp onion powder
1 tsp celery salt
1 tbsp paprika
1 tbsp cayenne (more for spicier turkey)
1/2 can beer (optional)
1 tbsp poultry seasoning
1 tbsp black pepper
4 dashes Tabasco or other favorite hot-hot sauce
Mix all ingredients. Using a marinade injector, stick it to the bird about every two inches or so. Rub the remaining marinade lovingly over the skin, cover and refrigerate for 12 hours.
Secret Trick #5: Get under your skin
Cover your hands with any oil- or butter-based turkey rub, and carefully work them in between the meat and skin, spreading the rub as you go. The skin will glue back down to the rub when you're done. Your flavors will penetrate deeper, and the skin will be crispier. Besides, it's fun to play in butter.
Rosemary's Baby Deep Fried Turkey
You'll be possessed by this crispy turkey's aromatic flavor, made even better by your turkey fryer.
Wash your room-temperature turkey and pat dry. Using your hands, mash the following ingredients into a stick of butter:
2 tbsp dried rosemary, crushed
1 tbsp fresh ground pepper
1 tbsp salt
1 tbsp ground thyme
Starting at the neck, work your rosemary-butter-smeared hands under the turkey skin, distributing the rub between skin and flesh. Work gently, trying not to tear the skin. Rub a little on the outside too, then pat it down so the skin seals back on to the bird.
Secret Trick #6: You want fries with that?
C'mon, you have the hot oil already. Toss French-fry-cut Idaho potatoes with a little salt, and toss them in your oil while your finished turkey is resting. Fish them out with a wire basket strainer (not plastic!) when they're done. The potatoes also improve the taste of the oil for your next use. Also try yams or battered vegetables.
San Francisco Pork Tenderloin
Hey, that's not turkey! But now that you've mastered your turkey fryer, you can experiment with other things to dunk. Tenderloins only need 8-9 minutes to cook, and nothing is more tender or juicy. Perfect with French fries, and you already have the hot oil for that.
2 tsp oregano
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ancho chile powder or cayenne
1 tsp smoked paprika, or regular paprika
1 tsp coarse salt
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp honey
Mix all ingredients, and rub the paste all over that lovely tenderloin. Insert hanger wire down through the center of the tenderloin, like a hot dog on a stick, so it hangs upright in your turkey fryer. (Hot dogs? That's another great idea!) Check after 8 minutes for doneness; don't overcook a tenderloin. Fabulous with grilled carrots and French fries.