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Avoid a Thanksgiving disaster- follow these cooking tips

Published On: Nov 28 2013 11:48:27 AM EST
Thanksgiving turkey



There are many ways to cook Thanksgiving dinner, from the traditional oven-baked bird to a roasted fowl over an open fire.

Deep frying the turkey has become very popular according to the Johnson City Fire Department, and they have provided the following safety tips to help you fry a delicious meal safely.

  • Many units easily tip over, spilling the five gallons of hot oil within the cooking pot.
  • If the cooking pot is overfilled with oil, the oil may spill out of the unit when the turkey is placed into the cooking pot. Oil may contact the burner/flames causing a fire to engulf the entire unit.
  • Partially frozen turkeys placed into the fryer can cause an oil spillover effect. This too, may result in an extensive fire.
  • Frying units with no thermostat controls also have the potential to overheat the oil to the point of combustion.
  • The sides of the cooking pot, lid and pot handles get dangerously hot, posing a risk of severe contact burns.

Deep Fried Turkey Cooking Tips:

  • Closely follow your fryer's instructions.
  • Only deep fry smaller turkeys-up to 12 pounds in weight.
  • Use oils with high smoke points such as peanut, canola and safflower. Peanut oil adds flavor, but it can be a concern for guests who have peanut allergies.
  • To determine how much oil you'll need in the pot, put the turkey in the basket and place in the pot. Add water until it reaches one to two inches above the turkey. Lift the turkey out, and use a ruler to measure the distance from the water to the top of the fryer. Pour out the water and dry the fryer completely before filling with oil.
  • Remember that it can take anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour to heat the oil, depending on the outside temperature, wind, and weather.
  • Before frying, pat the turkey dry with paper towels to keep the hot oil from spattering and popping when lowering the turkey into the hot oil.
  • Slowly lower the turkey into the oil, and maintain an oil temp of 350F. Fry turkey for three to four minutes per pound or about 35 to 42 minutes for a 10- to 12-pound turkey.

Safety Tips:

  • Turkey fryers should always be used outdoors a safe distance from buildings and any other combustible materials.  
  • Never use turkey fryers on wooden decks, carports, or in garages.
  • Make sure the fryers are positioned on a flat surface to reduce accidental tipping.
  • Never leave the fryer unattended. Most units do not have thermostat controls. If you don't watch the fryer carefully, the oil will continue to heat until it catches fire.
  • Never let children or pets near the fryer when in use. Even after use, never allow children or pets near the turkey fryer. The oil inside the cooking pot can remain dangerously hot for several hours after use.
  • To avoid oil spillover, do not overfill the fryer.
  • Use well-insulated potholders or oven mitts when touching pot or lid handles to avid contact burns. If possible, wear safety goggles to protect your eyes from possible oil splatter.
  • Make sure the turkey is completely thawed and be careful with marinades. Oil and water don't mix, and water can cause the oil to spill over, causing a fire or even an explosion hazard.
  • The National Turkey Federation recommends refrigerator thawing and to allow approximately 24 hours for every five pounds of bird thawed in the refrigerator.
  • Keep an all-purpose fire extinguisher nearby just in case.. Never use water to extinguish a grease fire. Remember to use your best judgment when attempting to fight a fire. If the fire is manageable, use an all-purpose fire extinguisher. If the fire increases, immediately call 911 for help.