There’s never been a better year to deep-fry a turkey

Thanksgiving will be very different in America this year. For one thing, political conversations at dinner can be more tense than usual. But more importantly: Vacation travel is risky, and planning a sufficiently distant and safe Thanksgiving meal requires stressful mental gymnastics. For those who don’t cancel the rally completely, safety is a major concern. As Zeeshan Aleem recently reported for Vox, two in five Americans say they’re likely to attend a big holiday rally this holiday season.

As a result, families and friends are adapting their festivities to meet the limits of the pandemic. But smaller, socially distant gatherings can create some obsolescence in your celebration. After all, at the heart of Thanksgiving – when you ignore the brutal colonial part – is unity. Americans who are trying to tell the difference between celebrating and staying safe will refrain from hugging, eat at big comedic tables or outside in colder weather in some parts of the country, and even wear masks during the meal. These are necessary precautions, but a difficult way to organize a celebration.

I’d like to suggest a method for avoiding an uninspired Thanksgiving pandemic: Try participating in the ritual of frying a turkey, an exhilarating outdoor spectacle that looks surprisingly, almost aggressively American. In the midst of all this madness, you might as well make Thanksgiving an extreme sport.

If you fry your turkey this year, you can brag about your skills to distant relatives, coworkers, or Instagram followers. What better way to enjoy a complicated vacation on American gratitude than by delaying your neighbors? It’s a recipe that is beautiful in its simplicity: take a turkey and, using a pulley system, immerse it in boiling oil under the admiring gaze of your loved ones. Your family might even drop by, pack a plate, and go out to their respective homes. Watching indoor football with your cousins ​​isn’t wise this year, but standing 6 feet away to watch a hot meal brew? It’s basically the genius of 2020. If you want something a little more pedestrian and a little less performing this season, you can go for Arby’s. new collection of fried turkey sandwiches, but intuition tells me that a DIY project is the most satisfying endeavor.

According to a 2015 Vogue article, Cajun chef Justin Wilson was the first person to report seeing a fried turkey – in the 1930s. It was a popular Creole country dish that only took off in the rest of America in the 1980s. and 1990 (Martha Stewart had a 1996 recipe). Even though one in four Americans is reduce on their meat consumption, and more health-conscious consumers might be wary of deep-frying, now is the time to take the leap. As Luke Winkie previously reported for Vox, this year’s turkey breeders aren’t sure what the holiday season will bring commercially, so they’re trying to get creative with smaller birds and presentations. different. Why not combine them by being creative with your own preparation?

In oil

To fry a turkey, you can purchase a Turkey Frying Kit – available anywhere from Home Depot to Dick’s Sporting Goods – with all the essentials: a small child-sized pot, plus a lifting hook for dipping. your bird in and take it out of the tank. A cooking thermometer would also be useful, to know when the oil is hot enough (Epicurous recommend to start frying when the oil reaches 375 degrees). You will also need a propane burner and a full propane tank.

Christine Byrne, food journalist and recipe developer, has been frying turkeys on Thanksgiving for about six years. She used to smoke or roast her turkeys, but turned to frying because it’s much faster – it only takes her 30-40 minutes (online consensus says so usually takes three to four minutes per pound of turkey). “We have a whole pulley system mounted on our lower deck,” she told me. “We actually put the fryer oil on the deck outside and hook the pulley so we can lower the turkey very slowly into the hot oil which helps because you can’t drop it too fast. . Otherwise, the temperature will change too quickly and it could overflow or explode. “

Not all Turkish insiders are fans of the method, however. The Director of Consumer Affairs of the National Federation of Turkey (yes, apparently that’s a thing) once described fry the turkey like ‘looking in a loaded double barreled shotgun. One barrel is a cardiologist’s nightmare, the other … a microbiologist’s worst dream come true. Apparently, the Federation was concerned about the risk of undercooking the meat, but according to the USDA, as long as a turkey has an internal temperature of 165 degrees or higher, everything should be fine, even if it is slightly pink. Yet all I hear is fantastic approval. We all deserve to eat something gluttonous this year! If prepared correctly, microbiology should not come into play at all.

But safety is an issue because of the Covid-19, because of our easily clogged arteries, and because of, well, the giant vat of hot oil maintained by amateurs. Preparation and awareness are therefore essential. First of all – and this is not to scare you – there should be a fire extinguisher present. Better safe than sorry: no more kitchen fires occur thanksgiving day than any other day of the year and result in damages of $ 15 million per year. YouTube is littered with terrifying videos of turkey frying gone awry, and these cases are preventable.

Scott F. Pilgreen, the Alabama State Fire Marshal, told me about how to stay safe when frying a turkey. He recommends that budding fryers invest in the proper oil – something with a high flash point (the temperature at which the oil will start to burn). Most of the online resources suggest peanut oil.

Byrne recommends making sure your turkey is dry before frying it, to avoid dangerous splashing. (The Internet contest.) “The turkey will ideally be at room temperature when you start frying, as this helps prevent a too rapid temperature change. If the turkey is cold in the fridge and your oil is 350 degrees, that’s a big difference, ”she says.

Pilgreen agrees that completely thawing your turkey is a key part of a safe experience. “The last thing you want to do is put a frozen turkey in that boiling oil,” he says. And oil maintenance is essential: “Make sure you don’t overfill the fryer. Make sure there is enough distance between where you are frying and the adjacent building, whether it is your house, apartment or motorhome. He also begs people to watch the fryer carefully and never leave it unattended. “It’s probably one of the worst things you can do, once the frying is underway, is leave it unattended. It would be no different to leave something on your stove in your house, ”he says. Onlookers should stay away from each other and have one or two people dip the turkey in the oil, which also helps limit the potential spread of the virus.

“Don’t disrespect what’s going on, because it can be dangerous,” Pilgreen warns. “Fried turkeys are good. If you’ve never had one they are great, but let’s be careful doing it.

Last year my boyfriend’s family fried a turkey. We ran outside, nervous with the excitement, ready to see the show. It was a biting experience; we were prepared for the worst with a fire extinguisher in the trailer, but there were no accidents and the turkey was perfect – crispy on the outside, tender on the inside, and was made even better by the experience of the giant vat of boiling oil. The drama of it all was deliciously satisfying: before me was a pot of oil, loved ones, and a now fried turkey, all captured on video in the cold November air. Sure, I fled as soon as the bird hit the oil (I’m a baby), but it was the best Thanksgiving I can remember in a long time.

This ritual gives us something that we can control, something warm to look forward to and look back on. The pandemic may have robbed us of a lot of fun, but a memorable Thanksgiving is something we might be able to pull off with a little elbow grease and a giant chunk of fried meat – and right? simply the most American thing? After the year we’ve all had, a fried turkey – a reason to safely gather outside and be thankful – is better than anything we could wish for.