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Which injection marinade for deep fried turkey?

  • d

Okay, I've just ordered an Eastman Outdoor Stainless Steel turkey fryer for one of our Thanksgiving turkeys. In doing some research, I find I will have to inject a marinade. Well, there are a lot of 'em out there, so I'm a little confused. What do the Chowhounds recommend? I'm sure you've all got your favorite. As to the dry rub, I think I know which way I'm headed.

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  1. I say no marinade. A fried turkey is best plain. Also dry rubs tend to burn. If you do decide to injection marinate, make a "tea" of your favorite herbs (sage, rosemary, thyme) and use that. The commercial fried turkey marinades are terrible.

    6 Replies
    1. re: the rogue

      Avoid salty marinades. They dry out the meat. Also, ditch the fry idea. Flavor some oil with your favorite herbs, inject into the turkey and roast at high heat. You'll get a turkey that turns out better than fried, with crispy skin, moist meat and nonoe of the danger and expense of frying. Truly, it's the best way.

      1. re: Greg Spence

        Saline injections are mainlined brine--far from drying the turkey, they plump up the flesh and provide a safety margin against over-cooking. The dissolved salt in the brine enters the cells, and the water follows by osmosis. This is exactly the opposite of what happens when you put salt crystals on the meat's surface--in that case, very little salt goes in, and lots of water is drawn out.

        In a blind tasting, Cook's Illustrated preferred frozen Butterballs over many high-brow competitors precisely because the Butterballs were injected with saline.

        1. re: Lindsay B.

          I understand the physics. I've brined many meats with great success. I've also seen over seasoned injection recipes ruin turkeys. I've fried dozens of turkeys over the years and come to the conclusion that my flavored oil injection is superior to any brine recipe. My method consistently wins "best of show" at neighborhood turkey frys; I happen to prefer the roasting method. If you try it once, you'll convert.

          1. re: Greg Spence

            I've never fried a turkey, so I'll defer to the experts on the best seasoning strategy. I just don't understand why briny marinades would cause the meat to be dry.

            Maybe frying just drives off a lot of moisture regardless of how much extra liquid you add in the form of brine or water-based marinade. Perhaps the oil injections have better staying power under high heat.

            1. re: Greg Spence

              This is my first time frying turkey and I was wondering exactly what you mean by flavored oil?

        2. re: the rogue

          I have found that injecting the turkey before frying usually results in a turkey that is blacker but not necessarily crispier than without the injection marinade. One fateful Thanksgiving I helped a friend fry a couple of turkeys for his family. We had injected them beforehand and they came out of the fryer so black that we tried to convince the guests that we had purposely prepared them "Cajun Turkey" which was MEANT look blackened. The birds tasted fine but after that we always fried turkey without bothering to inject beforehand. One other note, frying turkey is a novelty and really a pain in the *ss to do. We use our turkey contraption for crab and lobster boils in the summer and don't bother with the mess of frying turkeys anymore. A really good roasted turkey is just as good.

        3. Sounds like your set on frying . We always brine our turkeys no matter how they are gonna be cooked , and they come out perfect every time . Salty brine will NOT dry out the bird , it will season it , and make it more moist that without . For the record , I'm a little leery of frying a turkey , if you overcook it , your screwed , ( I use a probe thermometer to determine doneness , kinda hard in a deep fryer ) but I have had properly fried turkey , and it IS delicious . Good luck !

          1 Reply
          1. re: GoalieJeff

            "leery of frying a turkey , if you overcook it , your screwed"

            not really. i overfried my first turkey and it came out kinda interesting. we salvaged a few moist peices toward the center of the bird and the rest sorta tasted like turkey jerky. i'd much rather over fry a turkey then overbake one.

          2. The UL recently did a bunch of tests with deep fat turkey fryers, and found them to be extremely dangerous.

            I'd seriously consider watching the movie of their tests (which I've linked to below) before using one of these things.

            Link: http://www.ul.com/consumers/turkeys.html

            1. Only one of the turkeys is going to be fried, and I'm well aware of the dangers, as two years ago some friends brought over their fryer and did a second bird in it on our driveway. I haven't heard the end of it. One of my guests, who isn't particularly fond of turkey, fell in love after tasting the fried version, and others were also very pleased with the result. With almost 20 people coming this year I need 2 birds. One is going out on the BBQ, lightly brined and stuffed. Since fried turkey is a Cajun tradition, I would like to fix it Cajun style - thus, the need for the proper injection marinade. It will be accompanied with a rendition of Prudhomme's Cajun Oyster Dressing -done outside the bird, natch.

              1 Reply
              1. re: Deirdre

                Marinade is obviously a matter of taste. I use vinegar, beer, lots of garlic, some allspice, maybesome crushed clove. You can add a liquid crab boil (not too much...that stuff is concentrated). Make sure your spices are very finely crushed/cracked/macerated/pummeled so that they can get through the needle. I whip it up in a blender and then let it sit over night with a bay leaf or two. Inject the bird at frequent spots. You can fry right away or let it sit for awhile in the refrigerator: some folks think this allows the marinade to penetrate better. As you will. Cannot give you proportions--I just work it till it tastes right. (DOn't forget some cayenne and the great secret...white pepper)

                Common sense rules in this case. No dogs or kids around the burner. Devise some rig that will allow two of you to LOWER the bird into the grease. It will likely foam over so be ready. Try to use lard---it is far superior to anything else.

                Best injector is a horse needle from a vet suply store. to hell with thoise plastic things.

              2. It's a bit late for Thanksgiving 2012, but for future reference, this is what I use. I found a few recipes and combined and tweaked them until I'm pretty satisfied. My husband said the last turkey I made with this recipe was the best he's had.

                Turkey Injection Liquid

                1/2 cup melted butter
                2 Tbl. dry sherry
                1/2 cup chicken stock
                1/4 cup honey
                3 Tbl. Worcestershire sauce
                1/4 cup fruity white wine
                1/4 cup apple cider or apple juice concentrate
                2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced

                Warm in a small saucepan and let stand to infuse with the garlic. Shoot up.