Cheers Everyone and "Happy Holidays"!!
Well with 2016 being such a crazy and busy year for "The Big Dog", I'm sorry to say I have not been at my best regarding regular posts for my blog! I have missed posting and hearing from those of you who participate in my blog. So I am looking forward to once again posting on a regular basis and talking more about wine, food and all the wonderful events, activities and experience they help to create! So here we go...
I know, I can't believe the holidays are here either! And with the holiday season now here, our focus on food and wine and their delicious pairings is enhanced and increased even more! Also each holiday season I am often asked by friends and associates about frying a turkey and all the prep, cooking guidelines and wine pairing related to it.
So with that in mind, I thought it would be fun to repost my "Turkey Talk" blog post from November of 2014. Its a fun and comprehensive overview of how to safely prep your bird as well as fry it safely.
So "happy frying" and here's to a great holiday season!! Look for my December holiday post early next month! Cheers!!
OK... Thanksgiving and the holiday season are happily now upon us! I so love the holidays with their traditions, decorations, celebrations, and of course foods and wines!!
So, with the holidays in mind, lets "Talk Turkey"!
As many of you know I have enjoyed deep frying turkeys for many years. Whether for our traditional Thanksgiving dinner, Christmas parties, my Fire Department friends, or simply because we are in a fried turkey mood, frying a turkey is one of my very favorite culinary creations!
Not only, in my humble opinion, is deep fried turkey one of the moistest and more flavorful methods to prepare your "holiday bird", but the prepping and cooking process is something I enjoy almost as much as tasting the finished fried turkey itself!
Each year as the turkey fries and I stand "at the watch" of my bird, friends and family seem to be drawn to and around the boiling pot admiring its sounds, sights and aromas. For me, so many wonderful conversations, stories, great times and memories have been experienced and made during this very special and traditional culinary event.
So with Thanksgiving and the holiday season right around the corner, I thought it would be fun to blog my thoughts, opinions, techniques and recipe for "The Big Dog's Deep Fried Turkey"!!
I want to begin by separating our "Turkey Talk" into three parts: Safety, Preparation and Cooking.
First lets talk safety. Each holiday season I am amazed and even saddened to hear of news reports of enthusiastic but misguided "fowl fryers" who, by using improper frying locations, preparations and frying techniques and practices ignite their fryers and in some cases ignite their decks and structures as well! Three years ago I was astonished to hear a news report of a local Tennessee town's Fire Chief who actually burned down his entire home's deck by improperly frying his Thanksgiving Turkey! Crazy!!
Of course by following some very simple and easy preparations and cooking guidelines, your holiday turkey can and will be a fun, festive and very safe holiday experience!
1. Frying Location:
Your turkey fryer should always be located in a clear open area. Never operate your fryer on your deck, in a garage or carport, on a front porch or near any structure. Make sure that trees are not over hanging your frying area and that you place your fryer on a driveway or other clear surface and area and away from tall grass and bushes. Also, the "frying area" is not a recommended place for small children or even pets. Accidents can happen and running and playing around a pot of 350 degree oil is not a good idea.
Use only approved well maintained deep fryers with deep pot, food stand or basket, a handle to lower your bird and a accurate long stemmed thermometer / temperature gauge. Also, I recommend using an oven mitt when lowering and removing your turkey. Your oil will be boiling and your mitt will prevent any oil from possibly "popping up" and landing on your hand.
Also, always have a top for your frying pot close by and of course an approved fire extinguisher.
While very unlikely to ever need either, if your fryer ever does happen to ignite, the only real way to extinguish the flame is to cut the gas off to cool the oil and cover the pot to cut off the flames oxygen source. This will take a while so ignore the temptation to uncover the pot and see what's happening. Uncovering the pot will simply add oxygen to the pot and reignite the oil.
As for the oil. I like to use peanut oil for my deep frying. While I know some who use other oils, in addition to peanut oils fantastic frying environment and flavor it provides, it also possesses a higher "smoke temperature" as well.
3. Turkey Temperature:
It is important to make sure that your turkey is completely thawed! There should be no ice in the cavity and your turkey should be 100% thawed. With your turkey thawed and seasoned, I will take my turkey out of the refrigerator and sit out for around thirty minutes before I ease it into the oil.
This will help during the initial frying process and cause less oil "agitation" when lowering your bird into the oil.
Preparations for frying a delicious holiday turkey should ideally begin 24 hours before your ready to "drop your bird". For the best and most tasty results, you should completely season, and if so desired, inject your turkey the night before you plan to fry it in order to let the seasoning "work it's mojo"!
Now some enjoying brining their turkey (there are many great brine recipes for turkeys), for 24 to 36 hours and then frying it. However for me, I prefer a great seasoning rub and injecting.
As for seasoning, there are countless rub and injecting recipes for seasoning your turkey. As for me, I enjoy using a very simple but very flavorful seasoning routine.
First, after rinsing and patting dry my turkey, I place it in a large aluminum tray and lightly drizzle and coat the bird with my favorite olive oil. Next I generously season and rub the entire turkey, both inside and out with Tony Chachere's Creole Seasoning. As I said earlier, there are many outstanding seasoning and rub recipes that will work great for fried turkey. However for me, I simply enjoy the Creole and Cajun spices and flavors Tony's seasoning brings to my bird! Next after completely seasoning my turkey, I do prefer to inject it as well. While some chefs enjoy injecting their turkey with prepared "over the counter" injectable seasonings, I prefer to simply inject my turkey with a wonderful Black Dog Cellars Haney Family Estate Russian River Valley Chardonnay. Of course Black Dog Cellars is my Chardonnay of choice but feel free to use one of your favorites as well.
And since you will only be using a quarter or so of the bottle for the injection process, you will have plenty to enjoy as your turkey preparations and evening continues! Trust me I do!! Now the Chardonnay serves to enhance and give additional moisture to the turkey. For me my Tony's seasoning brings all the Creole and Cajun flavors my turkey needs.
Now as for how much and where to inject your bird, I simply cover all the main areas of the turkey.
Usually I will make 6 or so injections (3 on each side) in the breast area, 2 injections each for the legs, and 4 on the underside of the turkey. Use an approved injector (you can find these at any kitchen store) and don't be afraid to inject a nice injection of Chardonnay into each area.
However don't drown your turkey either. Say about 1 or so teaspoons with each injection.
So now with your turkey all "prepped up", simply cover it with foil, place it in the refrigerator until your ready to prepare to fry it and enjoy that glass of Chardonnay!!
Cooking Your Bird:
So your now ready to "drop your bird" and begin to fry! Ok then, your turkey should be completely thawed and all seasoned up! Also as I mentioned earlier, take your turkey out of the refrigerator and let it sit for 30 minutes or so.
As your turkey sits out, begin to get your frying oil ready and up to temperature. It's always about now that someone will ask me "so how much peanut oil do I need to pour into the frying pot"?
Good question! We want to avoid having the hot oil spill out and over the pot while we are lowering the turkey and while it is frying. However we also need the entire turkey submerged in the oil during the frying process.
Well figuring out just how much oil you need is actually really simple! The exact amount of oil needed can vary from turkey to turkey based on the bird's size. So here is a quick and easy trick to remember that will help you pour the exact amount of oil into your frying pot. Of course as you cook turkeys again and again, you will soon learn the exact amount of oil needed.
So before seasoning and with your turkey still in its original wrapping, simply lower the bird into your empty frying pot. Next begin to fill the pot with water until your turkey is completely covered in water. Once covered in water, remove your turkey from the pot and return to the refrigerator.
The amount of water that is left in the pot should be close to the level of oil needed to completely submerge your turkey for frying! If needed, make a small mark on your pot to indicate your needed frying oil level and your all set. Nothing to it!
Once you have poured your oil to the desired level in your frying pot, we need to begin to heat the oil to the desired frying temperature. Light your fryer using the approved manufacturers techniques and once ignited, set burner intensity to a medium high setting and then sit your pot of oil onto the fryer.
Now for a little more fun. As you begin to heat up your oil, I like to infuse my frying oil during this time with a little rosemary and garlic!! Simply add a few sprigs of fresh rosemary and a handful of fresh garlic gloves to your oil and let them work their magic on the oil as it comes up to temperature!
As your oil is now heating up and infusing with the fresh rosemary and garlic, it's time to place your turkey on the frying stand or in the frying basket. Position your turkey with legs up and place it on the stand or in your basket. Now you are almost ready!
Ideal frying temperature for your turkey is around 350 degrees. Now here's a hint... once you lower your turkey into the oil, the temperature of the oil will go down. So I like to preheat my frying oil to around 355 to 360 degrees. So once the turkey is in the oil, your frying oil temperature will be close to a constant 350 degrees. However, as frying continues, make sure to keep a close watch on your cooking temperature and make slight adjustments to the burner intensity as needed. Make sure your temperature does not dramatically exceed 350 degrees! Also if needed you can add a few minutes to your cooking time if your oil stays below 350 degrees for a while.
With your oil now preheated to the desired degrees, use a long spoon or grill tongs to remove the rosemary and garlic before you lower your turkey into the oil. Now place your oven mitt on the hand you plan to lower your turkey into the oil and attach the approved handle to the frying stand which your turkey is now on or grasp the basket handle that was included with your fryer.
Standing back from the fryer and extending your arm, SLOWLY begin to lower your turkey into the oil. You can even stop lowering your bird to let the oil calm down a bit as well as flow into the cavity of your turkey. Once you have lowered the turkey completely into the oil, disconnect the handle from the stand or release the basket handle and enjoy! You are now frying your turkey!!!
As for how long to fry your turkey, here is a simple formula to follow. Fry your turkey 3 1/2 minutes for each pound your turkey weighs. For example, if your turkey weighs 15 pounds, then fry your turkey approximately 52 1/2 to 53 minutes. I usually fry my turkeys and extra minute or so just to make sure all is done. especially if my cooking temperature was slightly lower than desired.
As your turkey fries, enjoy your family and friends as they gather round the fryer, enjoying a nice glass of wine and "Talking Turkey"! Now once your desired frying time is completed, it's time to remove your turkey from the oil.
Again cover your hand with your oven mitt and carry a simple cookie sheet along with your frying stand handle to your fryer. First, turn off your frying burner. Then attach handle to the frying stand or grasp the frying basket handle and slowly remove the turkey from the oil. As you bring your bird up, go slow and let some excess oil drain from your turkey. Once up and as you hold your turkey by the handle, place the cookie sheet under the turkey stand to prevent oil from dripping onto your floor as your bring your turkey inside.
Once inside, place your turkey (still on the stand or in the basket) on a wooden cutting board to begin to rest. Let your turkey rest a minimum of 20 minutes before removing it from the stand, placing it on your serving platter and beginning to carve. Now while everyone is admiring your work and your turkey is resting, make sure your oil is once again tuned off and you again inform guests to stay clear of the fryer. It will be hot for a while after it's turned off.
Congratulations!!! You have just fried a delicious turkey!!
Now lets talk about another of my very favorite topics... Wine!!
As for pairing wines with your traditional holiday turkey dinner, there are a number of thoughts and directions one can take. However for "The Big Dog", here are my recommendations and ideas!
To start off Thanksgiving Day and get the festivities underway here at our house, we like to begin with a little Champagne or of course "Breakfast Chardonnay"!! Then as the day progresses we love a fantastic glass of Rose`!! I personally think Rose` is a wonderful Thanksgiving and holiday wine!! Then with our Thanksgiving and holiday turkey dinners, we again enjoy Champagne, Riesling and of course in our home, Pinot Noir and Zinfandel! Now that is a great way to compliment the perfect fried turkey!!
So there you have it!! I hope you enjoyed my "Turkey Talk" blog post as much as I did posting it!!
Please let me know your recipes, experiences and ideas for your turkey, holiday dinners and parties. Also let me know of your wonderful wine experiences and pairings as well this holiday season!!
Thanks again everyone and here's to a fantastic and delicious holiday season!!
Cheers and HAPPY HOLIDAYS!!!
Owner / "Big Dog"
Black Dog Cellars