It’s time to start thinking about the Thanksgiving turkey. Frying produces a moist, tender, flavorful bird but it is inherently dangerous—or is it?
Past frying techniques
Until recently frying a turkey involved a large pot, lots of oil, and a propane burner sporting an open flame. Frying a turkey using this method can be done safely, but many precautions must be taken.
First is that the pot must be tall. One of the most common reasons why frying a turkey results in a fire is that the pot is too shallow. When a cold, moist turkey meets 375º oil a violent reaction takes place. The water on and in the turkey is turned into steam and starts to rise carrying the oil with it. The oil spills over the sides of the pot, leaks down the side, and meets a waiting open fire. The result is a disaster.
Second it too much oil in the pot. For a 12lb. turkey no more than 3 gallons of oil should be used. Any more than that will substantially increase the chances of a boil over and subsequent grease fire.
The third problem with using a propane burner system is location. The pot and burner must be located far away from flammable structures and materials. Often times this puts you out in the middle of the yard. While this is safe it is terribly inconvenient, and you are at the mercy of the wind playing havoc with the flame.
Also a propane burner should always be used outside…always.
A better way
Recently electric fryers have made their way onto the cooking scene. I own an electric fryer and can tell you on good authority that there is no better or safer way to fry a turkey, or anything else for that matter.
When I say an electric fryer, I’m not talking about the oil less fryers. Those are nothing more than vertical ovens. I’m talking about a large, self-contained unit which holds a sufficient amount of oil to fry a 12lb. turkey, with some models accommodating a bird up to 20 lbs.
Masterbuilt is the most common manufacturer of these fryers, and these units have several advantages over propane fryers.
First is the elimination of fire risk. The heating element is submerged inside the oil, and has no exposed flame. Even if you choose to ignore the maximum fill line indicated on the frying pot and have a boil over, nothing but a big mess will result.
Second is that the electric fryer can be used indoors. Since there is no burning of propane, no carbon monoxide is being released. Note that a great deal of steam is released so it is recommended that the unit be place under your ventilation hood.
Third is that the onboard electronics feature a digital thermometer and timer. This all but eliminates the guess work.
The forth feature of the electric fryer is that the unit has a lid. This served two purposes. It minimizes mess from splatter, and retains heat.
Wind does not affect the unit. Being that the heating element is inside the oil and there is no flame, wind in not an issue.
The fryer can be placed anywhere there is an electrical outlet.
There is a drain spout on the unit for easy, clean oil removal. This makes clean up and storage much easier than a traditional fryer.
And finally, using an electric fryer consumes much less energy than a propane burner.
Safety and convenience
This Thanksgiving opt for a better way to fry your turkey. Using an electric fryer is safer, more convenient, practical, and just makes good sense.