A Step-By-Step Guide to Cooking a Southern Style Deep Fried Turkey

Chef Mickey showing off his Southern Fried Turkey cooking skills. Photographs by Britney Gooden.

During the latest lockdown we are likely all trying our hand at crafting new culinary creations. I don’t know about you, but I am nearly out of steam when it comes to finding new recipes. However, no matter how loud we shout **GIVE ME BACK MY FAVORITE RESTAURANTS** we simply have to wait until this whole pandemic hoopla calms down.

Until things go back to normal you’re probably searching for any new recipes to shake things up. I offer you this delicious Cajun Fried Turkey recipe. It’s been in my family for decades and has been on our table every single Thanksgiving since I can remember. There are a lot of nuances of frying a turkey. It’s tricky but it is well worth the time and effort.

Here's what you'll need:
 
Original recipe yields 12 servings

1 (12 pound) whole turkey, neck and giblets removed

Tony Chachere's Creole Style Butter 26 OZ. (About a bottle and a half of marinade)

Tony Chachere's Creole Style No Salt Seasoning Blend 10 OZ.

3 gallons peanut oil for frying, or as needed 

Watch this quick video for some inspiration:


Video filmed by: Britney Gooden, featuring Mickey McCallister as the backyard chef

Now you’re thinking, man that looks Great! How do I do that? Well … Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you create your very own Souther Style Deep Fried Turkey Masterpiece.

  • STEP 1: THAW THE TURKEY

Most turkeys are sold frozen. You can find fresh turkey sold at some butchers or specialty grocery stores right before Thanksgiving or Christmas. But, I usually pick up a frozen turkey on sale at a local supermarket. Ideally, you should pop your turkey into the fridge about 2-3 days before you plan to fry it (estimate one day of thawing per 4 pounds of turkey).

Once your turkey is thawed out remove any giblets from the cavity of the turkey. Most of the time the giblets (liver, heart, gizzard, and neck) will be in a bag for you to pull out but sometimes they aren’t.

  • STEP 2: MIX THE MARINADE

Start out with the marinade.

I’m a huge fan of Tony Chachere’s Original Creole Seasoning and Creole Style Butter Injectable Marinade.

The bottle comes complete with it’s own injecting syringe and instructions on how to use it. Once you have the injector all set up and ready to go fill it up with the marinade and start injecting. Inject the marinade all over the turkey including the legs, back, wings, thighs and breasts. It takes about a bottle and a half to fully marinate a 12lb turkey.

Once you’re done with the marinade you can set the syringe aside and pick up the can of creole seasoning.

The whole benefit of frying a turkey is it gets a delicious, golden skin and the meat comes out so juicy and tender.

Sprinkle the entire outside with seasoning. Make sure it covers everywhere and rub it in with your hands to make sure it covers all the outer parts.

  • STEP 3: SETUP TURKEY FRYER AND ADD OIL

I am a huge fan of the propane fryers. Which is what you see being used in the sequence video.

WHAT KIND OF OIL IS BEST FOR FRYING A TURKEY?

I personally only use peanut oil which is what’s being used in the video above. However, it really depends on your personal preference. Shop around and see what fits your taste and budget.

HOW MUCH OIL SHOULD I USE?

Fill up to the waterline with your choice of frying oil.

Note: You do not want to overfill your oil. Once the turkey goes in, there will be a lot of bubbling and you don’t want your oil to overflow. 

Tip: Buy the oil in gallon jugs. When you’re done frying your turkey let the oil cool down completely (about 2 hours) and just pour it back into the jug until it’s needed again. You may reuse this oil if it’s kept in a cool, dark place for up to three months.

  • STEP 4: PREHEAT THE OIL

This part takes longer than you might think so you need to figure this time into your planning. We usually get the oil heating about an hour before we start prepping the turkey for frying because it can take that long to preheat.

Heat the oil to 365 degrees F (185 degrees C).

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  • STEP 5: FRY THE PREPARED TURKEY

Time to let that turkey soak in a hot oil bath. This is the fun part. In my family we all head outside to stand around and watch as the turkey get lowered in.

You need to be careful though. The basket comes with an extension tool (the metal hook). It will help you lower the turkey slowly into the oil while helping you stay a safe distance away from any splattering oil.

One the bird is in the pot lower the lid on the fryer and set a timer.

The turkey should be completely submerged in the oil. Cook for 36 minutes, or 3 minutes per pound of turkey.

Note: The turkey is done when the temperature in the thickest part of the thigh reaches 180 degrees F (80 degrees C).

Turn off the flame and slowly remove from the oil, making sure all of the oil drains out of the cavity.

Safety Note: DO NOT attempt this indoors or too close to a builidng.

  • STEP 6: DIG IN!

Allow to rest on a serving platter for about 20 minutes before carving.

According to Emeril Lagassé , the best way to carve is to pull the legs, wings and thighs off; then undercut the breast following the bone to the center and then slice.

ENJOY!

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Next Up: Boiling Crawfish. Stay tuned.

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