As Andrea Valdez wrote in 2010, the deep-fried turkey has transcended its roots in bayou country to become a national novelty each Thanksgiving. The recipe she sourced from Charles Clark, of the Houston restaurant Ibiza, is deceptively simple, so long as you have the appropriate equipment, including a turkey fryer and injector. Most important are the safety instructions for avoiding holiday catastrophe: wear large, heavy-duty gloves and make sure pets, children, and imbibing guests stay clear of the frying setup. When the bird is done, you’ll have crisp meat for serving and a new Thanksgiving tradition to repeat year after year.
This recipe was adapted from Andrea Valdez’s 2010 article “How to Deep-fry a Turkey.” That piece originally appeared in the November 2010 issue of Texas Monthly.
- 1 turkey fryer with a propane burner (also called a catfish cooker or crawfish boiler, it typically comes with a stockpot, a basket, and a grab hook)
- 1 large turkey injector with needle
- 1 perforated poultry rack
- 1 deep-frying thermometer or candy thermometer
- 1 pair elbow-length gloves or mitts
- 1 turkey weighing less than 12 pounds (defrosted and insides removed)
- 8 tablespoons butter
- 1 tablespoon Cajun spice blend (Clark prefers Tony Chachere’s)
- 4–6 gallons peanut oil (depending on size of stockpot and turkey)
- Determine how much oil is needed: place the raw turkey in the pot, fill it with water until the bird is covered by 2 inches, pull out the turkey, and mark the waterline.
- To create the seasoning, melt 8 tablespoons of butter in a pan with 1 tablespoon of Cajun spice blend.
- Fill the turkey injector with the seasoning and shoot the blend into the breast, thigh, and wing meat at various angles to distribute the marinade.
- Skewer the turkey on a perforated poultry rack.
- Establish a safe frying space: place the propane burner on a clearing or concrete slab away from your house.
- Clip the thermometer to the pot’s lip and pour in the peanut oil to the marked line.
- Light the fire, bringing the oil to 350 degrees. Put on the pair of heavy-duty gloves, hang the skewered turkey from a grab hook, turn down the flame to reduce spatter, and slowly immerse the bird in the heated oil, lowering it an inch or so every 10 seconds.
- Readjust the flame to maintain a temperature of 350 degrees. Cooking time should be about 3½ minutes per pound.
- When cooked, turn off the gas, then remove the darkened, crispy turkey from the pot and place it on a newspaper-lined pan.
- To serve, wait about 10 minutes, then carve the meat. Commence gobbling.