Saturday, November 16, 2013

The Battle of the Turkeys...Roasted, Deep Fried or Both!

Promise! A very moist turkey!
I don't remember how or even when it started. As my sons grew older, I do remember a year when I noticed a bottle of hot sauce on the dinning room table. Since our table is where the family Thanksgiving is celebrated, it is often rather long with anywhere from 16 to 23 people seated around it. So, even as the head chef at this festivity, it wouldn't be unusual for me not to know everything that is going on at the other end. (Since this end has been deemed "the cousins" table, I have been assured that it is best I don't know.) Any way, About 13 years ago, I asked to have the big bowl of stuffing passed forward... and there it was, a bottle of Franks Hot Sauce hiding behind it.

Always cook outdoors!
The explanation was simple. Since neither one of my sons were real turkey fans, they thought the addition of hot sauce would kick up what they considered a rather bland meat. Even their father, who sat at the other end of the table with turkey and gravy covering his plate, looked at the orange colored bottle with longing. So, it was then decided that we would try something different (along with the traditional of course) the following Thanksgiving.

Creole "Butter" (it's non-fat) and spice!
Enter, the purchase of a deep fryer. To give you an idea of how long ago this was, it came with a VHS tape of safety instructions. Basically, it was a video of how not to drop a turkey into a deep pot of boiling oil causing a splash into the open flame below. Duh. And since this is not a "how-to" blog on deep frying turkeys, I suggest a little research before investing. But I can tell you is amazing!

Like so many other things, the secret to a great taste is in the prepping. There are now so many seasonings on the market, the only difficult part is finding your favorite. But we still use the"tried and true" product we started with "Creole Butter" injected into the turkey and Butterball Cajun Spices sprinkled on the skin. (Doused may actually be a better word here). Because turkey skin is so thick, when the bird is inserted into the preheated oil, the meat under it actually boils in its own juices. NOT at all greasy! It is simply the moistest turkey you will ever eat. And, basically healthy (unless, like my sons,  you can't resist the crispy, spicy, brown skin to snack on)!

The aroma alone has caused neighbors to hang over the fence with a longing in their eyes. And, in my family, it's a "man" thing. A common site in our backyard is a bunch of men standing around a deep fryer with a cigar in one hand, a beer in the other...all staring at the pot. So this year, thanks to Rachel Ray, I am making a fried turkey "gravy" that is guaranteed to knock your socks off! One of the ingredients is a 12 oz bottle of hot sauce. We'll see if it makes a repeat appearance next year. (if you're going this route, email me for recipe).

Now, all that being said, it is Thanksgiving Day, and I NEED my house to smell like it. I NEED a turkey roasting in the oven! I NEED homemade gravy to smother it! I NEED a late night turkey sandwich with mayo and cranberry sauce! (Okay, I'll stop now, I'm starting to drool.) NEEDless to say, my family has both. And since we always have a decent size crowed, leftover bags of turkey-to-go are an easily solved request.

But let me add one more thing about the deep fried turkey. Since it is cooked outside, and since its aroma and flavor from all the Cajun additives sort of take it out of the "Thanksgiving" arena, it can and should be made year round. It is great on a summer Sunday afternoon with corn on the cob and a salad! At 3 minutes a pound to cook, it is ideal for all types of celebrations! My son Kyle, took our deep fryer to a tailgate party for the Philadelphia Flyers last season, and the spicy aroma wafting into the air on a very cold winter day attracted the police...who demanded a sample!

So, if you want to add a deep fried turkey to your menu this year, assign the task to the males in your group. It is a great way to keep them out of the kitchen while your trying to keep the "real" star of the day basted!
Ahh! Roasted turkey and gravy! Still nothing like it!

Photos by ImageGoggle, Jo Ann Phelps


  1. Mmm… I love oven-roast turkey. LOVE it.
    Happy Thanksgiving :)

  2. Me too! Thanks Patti and Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours...where ever your celebrating this year!