Roasting vs Deep Frying

After brining my birds overnight (see Brining the Turkey), I washed off the brine and let them air dry in my fridge. Thanksgiving morning we roasted one bird and deep-fried the other. As I have never deep-fried a turkey I read many different perspectives on the topic online, arriving at my own method of cooking. Luckily, one of our guests had cooked a turkey this way many times and knew what to expect in case things went awol.

Early in the morning I thoroughly dried off the bird destined for the deep-fryer hoping to wick off as much water as possible. To test out the fryer, I loaded it with oil and turned it on high. I fried a batch of sweet potato fries to go with a paprika aoili and felt comfortable with my control of the temperature (only after burning the crap out of the first two batches).

It was then I stumbled across a truly exceptional tip online. Put your turkey in the deep-fryer when it is empty. Fill the fryer with water so you can see how much oil you need. Pull out the turkey and look at the water line. That is how much oil you need. Oops. Instead we bailed lava hot oil out of the fryer and into a pot...and eye-balled it.

Deep Fried Turkey
When it was fryin' time, Dave put on some thick rubber gloves, grabbed the12 pound turkey by its legs and centimeter by centimeter lowered that fowl into the oil. We were extremely careful to go slow enough that the water left in the bird didn't cause an eruption in the oil, which leads to bubbling over and all kinds of nastiness. We also took care not to deep fry in the garage, which apparently is a leading cause in fires over Thanksgiving.

Roasted Turkey
That said after about 40 minutes in 325 degree oil, we ended up with a very dark brown beautiful turkey. Side by side both birds were lovely, but in a blind taste test, the roasted bird was our favorite.

One site I referenced, should you decide to try your hand at frying next year.