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How to Not Deep Fry a Turkey

In the last few years it has become very popular to deep fry a turkey in the United States or at least in southern California. I suppose this is due to the fact that we are all getting lazier and claim to be so busy that we do not have the time to cook such splendid feasts anymore like the ones we have been having with Kurt and Jamie the last few years. (Thank you both for the splendid memories.) So my Dad is a pretty good cook, I will admit that he can make a killer roast and a spectacular gravy. And for an English man these are two very important things considering a roast is a national staple food, and gravy is mandatory to hide the fact that the English haven’t used salt since world war II. One Thanksgiving, with the help of my good friend Pat, we attempted to deep fry a turkey and the following picture I find to be very revealing of how it went.

Thanksgiving Deep Fry

I love this picture because it opens my mind to be able to actually relive this particular moment in my life. As any good “wheres waldo” book, it contains all the elements necessary to construct an amazing story. (I do apologize for the construed proportions but this was a photograph taken of a photograph since the damn Argentines want to charge me 3 pesos a picture for scanning and no one has a scanner.)

Theres no mystery to how to deep fry a turkey. You basically buy a large amount of cooking oil, fill up a steel cylinder with the stuff, then put it on top of a jet burner attached to a sufficient supply of compressed gas which is just out of the frame of this picture but rest assured, it is there and filled to the brim. You put the turkey onto a metal holding device so you can lift the turkey out of the soon to be scolding pot and take the turkey out after some prescribed time. This is all told to us on the outside of some box that the stores will sell to anyone over the age of 6. This simple description is what we THOUGHT was all that was needed.

Insert catalyst one, and probably the most important catalyst. Pat is holding a crystal glass filled with some 18 year old whiskey and there is another glass behind my dad’s left arm. No doubt mine was within an arms reach. I cannot say how far into the lovely bottle of Scotch we were at this point but it is sufficient to say that we were all enjoying the moment immensely despite some of the next few statements that I am about to make.

We are all wearing sandals which is normal for California (except for my dad wearing socks with his sandals) but probably not a good idea when there is a large flame at full blast just about ankle level.

Notice the ground is all wet. Well it isn’t really wet I would say. I am not sure how you describe something that is all covered in oil but that is what the ground was, covered in oil. What happened was my dad filled the cylinder with oil, to the top. We then turned the heat on and waited until the stuff was boiling. Then we start lowering the 20 pound turkey into the water. Pat, my dad, and myself are sharp guys and it didn’t take long to realize that we should have measured the amount of oil to put in with the turkey already in the cylinder, not empty. (You use water to accomplish this before hand) So either way we make a game time decision while hovering the turkey in the air and decide that there is no way we can just wait for the oil to cool down and discard some of it so we just drop the turkey into the oil . The whole time oil is cascading over the edge of the cylinder and flowing directly over the jet flame underneath the cylinder. I do not know how there was no explosion but there wasn’t.

What am I doing anyways? Well the box comes with two hooks that are used to lift and lower the turkey out of the cylinder. At some point we thought it would be a good idea to drop one of the hooks into the cylinder and cook it with the turkey. This great idea made it very difficult to lift the turkey out. In the end we constructed our own reinforced hook out of some cloths hanger type metal and dug around for the other hook, dropped it on the ground and let it cool off before we used it again.

All that brown stuff behind pat is the usual oak tree clutter that would collect on the ground at my house. Likely very flammable.

In the end the turkey was not that bad. If anything maybe a little dry but the gravy hid that fact. We likely let it cook too long as we dug around for the hook. I am forever a fan of using the oven or burying your food with coals and will not attempt deep frying again. However it did make for a good story.

After dinner, we cleared everything away and everything looked fine except for the fact that there was a giant oil slick on our patio. I say to Pat, “Hey you should try and slide across the oil slick. It would look hilarious and you would appear to be moonwalking.” and of course Pat responds “Ya that is a great idea.” Now this was a great idea, trust me, but the problem was that Pat had some image in his head that he could run up to the oil slick and just slide for 20 yards or something casually looking around and tipping his hat and winking at the ladies as he glided. Its one thing to see people fall, but the moment Pat hit the oil slick, he immediately fell in the fastest fall I had ever seen. A fall so fast that I am sure Pat was hurting severly but because it was so unexpected he couldn’t help but think he had broken some natural law and we all had to laugh about the audacity of that even happening. He got up, slightly oilly and we toasted to one of the better thanksgivings I have ever had.

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