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Anyone see Alton Brown on frying a turkey?

I mean, please. I've done it before and, yeah, it's good, but I had the benefit of a commercial kitchen. While Mr. Brown rightly and responsibly emphasizes safety concerns (burning your house down on Thanksgiving would be a real drag, I'm guessing) I just don't get it. Beyond the (Heritage) bird, the brine and the four gallons of peanut oil (two out of three of which are pretty pricey), his recipe calls for a propane tank and accompanying hardware, a thirty-gallon stockpot, a free-standing two-ring burner on which to place said stockpot, an igloo-type cooler, a candy thermometer, fifty feet of rope, pulleys, carabeeners, a ladder, a fire extinguisher and a lawn. All of which you'll have to buy twice if you want to cook a bird larger than fifteen pounds.(Well, except for the lawn I guess). And no one's even started that miserable green bean casserole yet! I'm sure I'll draw fire over this but does anyone out there actually go through all this for a meal you only serve once a year?

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  1. I smoke my turkeys not deep fry them but I definately do it more than once a year. So I would say that if I were into the deep fry thing, I'd do it a handfull of times per year.


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    1. I didn't see the piece that he did about frying turkeys. I actually thought he was against it, because he is always talking about how dangerous it is. I guess I never really understood. Frying turkeys in South Louisiana is pretty common, probably because most families in South Louisiana already have a burner with a propane tank that's primarily used for crawfish and crab boils. The narrow "turkey frying" pot is the only other part needed.

      I've tried smoked turkey, baked turkey and fried turkey, and my money is on the fried version.


      1. OMG this sounds too funny. I have to see this. Ludicrous!

        1. It really can be dangerous, supposedly many people have fires when frying turkeys. He does go overboard with that whole pulley system. I use a broomstick and another person when lowering the bird into the pot. Also he is right on about turning off the burner before putting in the pot. I keep a fire extinguisher nearby and do it on my lawn. As for the other stuff... if you are frying a bird you do need a deep frying thermometer, a propane tank and burner, and a 3-4 gallon pot. But doesn't eveyone have those? I live in NY, not the South, and I do. How else would you cook up lobsters and crabs, as well as quantities of food for parties? The best part about the whole thing is that a fried bird comes out much juicier and more evenly cooked (except the wings which can get overdone) than when roasted and only takes around 45-60 minutes to cook.

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          1. re: JMF

            Lucky you. You obviously don't live in a railroad apartment with no yard! I'm on my way over...get those lobsters going...

          2. He's simply showing folks how to do this in the safest way possible. I don't think most folks would go through with building the whole contraption, but hey you never know! The broom stick sounds like a much easier solution - good thinking JMF. I do wholeheartedly agree that the mass produced "turkey fryer in a box" are cheap as dirt. Ala carte is the way to go on this investment. You can use the things for much more than just frying a turkey, diropstim.

            1. I'm fascinated by this thread--I'm from the putative home of the fried turkey (South LA). Around here, virtually any person with a backyard (and even some city dwellers with just porches, patios, or stoops) has a propane tank or two, burner, large pots, ice chest/igloo coolers large enough to accomodate the turkey, and at least a couple gallons of oil hanging around the kitchen. If you visited every house on my block (an unremarkable, middle-class suburban area), you'd find all this stuff in the garage or shed or piled up under the carport. Those pots and burners are employed year round for other seasonal tasks like boiling crawfish, crabs, or shrimp, making huge batches of gumbo, jambalaya, or red beans, etc. We're in the midst of America's most productive inshore/near-shore fishing grounds, so everyone has several coolers...where else would you put the fish & shrimp & crabs you catch or that your neighbors give you? I live in a place where an "ice chest of shrimp" has a known economic value and is still used as payment in kind.

              Fried turkey & its requisite equipage have sprung from a culture where outdoor, large-scale, "messy" cooking is no big deal, and where fat is not feared.

              Oh, the ropes and pulleys are just overkill and silliness for TV. You just need a strong person who can lift the turkey out of the pot. If you're wearing welding gloves & a leather apron, the hot oil won't touch you. It is helpful to have a strainer-basket insert with a handle that's big enough to hold the turkey. Each year, my next-door neighbor starts frying turkeys at 6 am on Thanksgiving day, and by noon, he's neither burned down the house or burned a turkey, despite copious amounts of Bud Light. So I promise y'all, it's just not that hard.

              1. You're right!! It's not that hard - and it's SOOOO tastey!! No need for the elaborate pulley system -- the broom handle works just fine!!

                My hubby happens to be a firefighter so, of course, safety is the biggest concern - but a little common sense goes a LONG way ;-) A good pair of FF gloves and some bunker gear -- GOOD TO GO!!

                1. Found a good example of turkey frying over on the new video site Brightcove. Actual home chef doing it in the backyard.


                  1. On the other hand, if you're not into turkey, I have a friend who deep fries rock cornish hens. Takes a lot less oil. Done in minutes.

                    1. Hahaha....I came home from shopping the other night and my husband was watching that and told me to put my bags down and I had to see what AB had rigged up. He said he lost all respect for AB, but I thought it was hilarious. I would LOVE to rig up something that ridiculous to fry a turkey! Fried turkey is delicious, better than most turkeys I eat, but my own oven recipe I think is better. Sometimes I wonder if all the crazy safety procedures AB does on his show are more because his lawyers think its a good idea instead of him thinking its a good idea....come on, that man must go through a crate of rubber gloves a week! My parent-in-laws have a standard store bought turkey fryer and they use it a couple of times a year. If they are having a big party, especially in the summer and they are tired of hamburgers and hot dogs, they just fry 3 or 4 turkeys and in a couple of hours have enough food for 50 or more.

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                      1. re: sunshinedrop

                        I think it's one of or both of two things. Legal issues not withstanding.
                        One is, I think it's done for effect. All his models of molecules and chemical reactions. I tend to doubt he does it like that at home.
                        The second is his sense of humour. It's much like him having people in haz-mat suits take away an undercooked (stuffed) bird.


                      2. To be fair, you can use the turkey frying setup for crab and crawfish boils as well, so you do use the thing more than once a year.

                        And for the deliciousness of fried turkey, buying the whole rig is worth the expense, even if it's just once a year.

                        1. I love AB, but I thought that was a terrible episode. In fact I think he may have Jumped the Shark with it. His ladder rig was far more dangerous than just having somebody help you slowly lower the bird with a hook. There are too many potential things that could go wrong with that monstrosity. I remember his saying that he dislikes the whole idea of deep frying a turkey, so I have to wonder if he purposely made that episode over-the-top so that it would discourage people from even trying.

                          1. This was certainly my impression - AB is on record saying that deep-frying turkey is dangerous (and every year there are folks who have serious accidents doing it) but this episode was kind of a "Well, if you insist..."

                            In fact, it occurs to me that there was a ton about the brining and arranging the rig, but really very little on the "good eats" aspect of the result - clearly his heart was not in this!

                            1. After hearing from family & friends how great fried turkey was, my husband and I purchased a fryer at BJ's. We simply hooked it up to a propane tank from our gas grill and presto! Of course we did this in the back yard. We deep fried a 10 lb. turkey in about 35-40 minutes. I can tell you guys that this was the best turkey we've ever had. I will never roast a turkey again!!!!!!!!!

                              1. I don't go through the hole hanging procedure but I've been frying for 5 years now.

                                We have not even considered going back. We now fry 2 smaller (14 lb) turkeys to get more of that delicious fried skin and 2 pope's noses!

                                I keep the turkey's a good 20 ft from the house with fire extinguishers and make sure the turkey's have been out of the brine drying for at least 8 hours before the go in the oil (dont want a boil over). Also lower the turkeys slowly to make sure there isn't a flood even tho i've already placed the turkeys (wrapped in a garbage bag) in water to measure how much oil i'll need (mark with lipstick or marker).

                                May sound like trouble but it's far easier than roasting and much more reliable. I can't remember the minutes per pound as we do different sizes every year but you can find the equations online. Never ruined one yet, not even the first. And this will be the 3rd year in the rain so I set up the giant lawn umbrellas to keep dry.

                                good luck!

                                PS - Alton did cover turkey frying this year.

                                1. This sounds a lot like one of those things where ya' hang out with someone who has done it before and watch what happens and he sorta shows ya' as he goes along and next time you do it yourself. At first you do it a little carefully and you always use some common sense, and why would you not?

                                  What in the world was AB doing with a ladder to cook a turkey?

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                                  1. re: yayadave

                                    He made a derrick to minimize the risk of burning himself with boiling oil. Details (1.7MB PDF):


                                  2. I'm no culinary anthropologist, but I agree this frying of turkeys probably started in and around Louisiana where lots of folks have propane burners and big pots that are used mostly for boiling large quantities of crawfish and crabs. But buying one of those rigs just to use once a year is downright dumb. Never saw anyone make a turkey derrick though. Kinda cute in a nerdy, the-lawyers-are-cool-with-this way. I have used the coat hanger method, but with two people so nobody needs to stand over the pot.

                                    And what's this obsession with peanut oil? Sure, if you're going to cook 10 turkeys one after the other peanut oil would hold up better, but canola works just fine for one bird and costs half as much.