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Thomas Cobb: Deep frying is the way to go

By Thomas Cobb

Rowan Cooperative Extension


Thanksgiving is a holiday that, for most people, the main ingredient is turkey. So this article is to highlight raising turkeys and give you some tips on how I like to cook mine.

Most people might not realize it, but there are local turkeys grown here in Rowan County. Lee Menius with Wild Turkey Farms raises local turkeys for Thanksgiving. Lee gets the poults (baby turkeys) in July when they are just a day old. Once the poults are brooded for three weeks then they are moved onto a pasture-based feeding system. These birds have access to pasture and to feed.

The birds are no hormone added and antibiotic free. The turkeys are a broad breasted white variety that is a more commercial type bird. Menius chose this breed because they have more flavor and are easier to cook for customers. The turkeys will be processed a week before Thanksgiving and will average between 13-20 pounds.

For fresh turkey, Menius recommends an apple cider or sorghum molasses brine. He also says that with his turkeys, the key is to not overcook them. Lee also raises chicken, pork, beef and lamb. You can visit them at the Salisbury Farmers Market, Davidson Farmers Market or contact them through their website at www.wildturkeyfarms.com

Now for me and my family, the one thing that we love to do is deep fry our turkey. Always make sure that you deep fry outside away from buildings, and have a fire extinguisher on hand that is rated for grease fires.

You want to start by making sure the turkey is completely thawed and I even pat mine down with a clean towel to remove any excess moisture. Frozen or partially frozen turkeys that are lowered into hot grease are what cause the grease to overflow and catch on fire.

I recommend getting the deep frying kits that can be found at hardware stores. You will get a base with burner, pot, turkey stand, lowering hook and thermometer. It is also important that you do not use too much oil. I use 3 gallons of  peanut oil, which, if using the turkey kit pot, brings it right to the fill line.

Make sure to heat the oil to 325 degrees. Using the turkey stand and lowering hook, lower your completely thawed turkey into the grease. Now the cool turkey is going to lower the oil temperature so you may need to turn the burner up to get the temp back to 325. When the temperature is back to 325, turn the burner back down so the temperature does not get too high.

You want to fry the turkey 3 ½ minutes per pound. Once the turkey is done, turn off the burner and lift the bird from the grease and place on a platter.

This is when I like to season mine with some Caribbean Jerk seasoning, however, if you have a favorite spice, try that. The turkey will be extremely hot, so let it cool for at least 20 minutes before trying to handle. Serve and enjoy.

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