If you’ve heard that once you’ve tried fried turkey you’re converted for life, we’re happy to report that for us, it’s true! Not only is your bird done in 40 minutes, but it’s really juicy, not at all greasy, and the skin is crispy beyond belief. The rub we’ve created is a tasty addition, and when left on overnight, it penetrates the entire turkey. We’ve put together a few more tips on deep-frying a turkey here and here.
What to buy: Look for a fresh turkey—they seem to end up crispier and tastier than previously frozen ones. If you do get a frozen turkey, just make sure it’s completely thawed before frying (this will take several days in the refrigerator).
Filé is powdered sassafras leaves, a popular spice in the South, especially in Louisiana, where it’s used as a condiment and thickener for gumbo. Here it imparts a slight woodsy flavor to the rub. Look for it in the dried-spices section of grocery stores.
Peanut oil is best for frying because it has a very high smoke point and a rather neutral flavor.
Special equipment: A propane turkey fryer like this one from Bayou Classic was all we needed to make a crisp, succulent turkey. (Well, that and the propane and oil!) It comes with the base, pot, turkey rack, and thermometer, plus a bunch of accessories.
We wore heatproof rubber gloves and safety goggles to protect our hands and eyes while we fried. Safety first! And on that note, it can’t hurt to have an all-purpose fire extinguisher on hand—just in case.
Game plan: Be sure to give your turkey a full night in the fridge with the rub on it to allow the flavors to fully penetrate. Also, at frying time, give your oil plenty of time to heat up. It took ours about 40 minutes to come to temperature each time we tested.
And be sure to thoroughly read through the instruction booklet that comes with your fryer before use!
This recipe was featured as part of our Thanksgiving, Southern-Style menu.
For the turkey:
Note: To figure out how much oil to use, try this displacement trick: Before unwrapping your turkey, place it in the frying pot and add enough water to cover it completely. Remove the turkey from the pot and measure the water. That’s how much oil you should use.
Beverage pairing: Dixie beer, Louisiana. There’s nothing like a crisp, sharp, and somewhat neutral American light lager with fried turkey. And you might as well have something with true Southern roots like Dixie, though Bud or PBR would be just as delicious.