Fry Me to the Moon
By Tom Yates
For years, I could never wrap my head around fried turkey. How can you make giblet gravy without the pan juices? What about the sticky bits ( flavor bombs) stuck to the bottom of the roasting pan? Where do you stuff the stuffing?
As it turns out, you can have it all. The relative quick fry and hot oil seals the meat under shockingly crisp skin, locking in moisture and flavor without being a bit greasy. Better yet, fried turkey frees up the ovens for the important stuff. You can have your moist turkey, scratch gravy (made from giblets and extra turkey parts), stuffing (dressing baked on the side), sides, pumpkin pie, and eat it too. Everything is possible.
I traded my turkey baster for an injector, and threw caution to the wind.
Being mindful to remove the giblet package from the cavity, I rinsed and thoroughly dried a 10 1/2 pound fresh turkey. I combined 1 cup warm melted unsalted butter, 1 cup dry white wine, 1 cup honey, 2 tablespoons kosher salt, and 2 teaspoons ground white pepper. After whisking everything together to blend the ingredients, I used a meat injector to carefully inject the marinade (maneuvering the syringe to distribute it evenly) under the skin of each breast, thigh, and leg, about 4 or 5 pokes per section.
After mixing 2 tablespoons light brown sugar, 1 tablespoon Bourbon Barrel Bourbon Smoked Paprika, 1 teaspoon ground dried sage, 1 teaspoon ground dried rosemary, 1 teaspoon ground white pepper, 1 teaspoon onion powder, 1 teaspoon ground dried thyme, and 1 teaspoon garlic powder, I rubbed the turkey under and over the skin before sliding it into the refrigerator to rest overnight.
I adore poached pears.Their simplicity belies their “it” factor.
I brought equal parts water and sugar (2 cups each for a basic simple syrup) to a rolling simmer before adding 1/2 white wine, 2 tablespoons lemon juice, and 1 tablespoon whole black peppercorns. After peeling 8 fresh pears, red and bosc for textural/flavor variation, I halved them without coring, and tumbled them into the simmering spiced simple syrup.When they were knife tender, I pulled them from the heat, let them cool completely in their bath, and used a small scoop to easily core out little pockets before sliding them into the refrigerator to chill.
With bright sweet acidity, cranberry sauce is the reason for the season. After bringing 4 cups fresh cranberries, 1 cup sugar, and 1 cup water to a boil, I reduced the heat and let it rip until the cranberries popped and melted into the sauce. When the sauce thickened, I pulled it from the heat before adding 1 tablespoon lemon zest, 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, and 1 1/2 cups of diced fresh peeled pears. Into the fridge to chill and set up.
A deep fried turkey cooks fast. Allow for 3 1/2 minutes per pound. Set the table and set the timer.
After filling an 11 quart indoor electric turkey fryer with 2 3/4 gallons (yes, gallons) peanut oil, I cranked the heat to 375 degrees, closed the lid, and let the oil preheat. Knowing it would take about 45 minutes to an hour for the oil to come to the right temperature, I pulled the turkey from the refrigerator to take the chill off.
When the oil hit 375, I positioned the turkey, breast side up, in the frying basket, and very carefully lowered it into the shimmering hot oil. Once submerged and on full fry throttle, I released the basket, lowered the lid, set the timer for exactly 39 minutes, and poured myself a glass of wine.
At the 39 minute mark, I lifted the turkey from the oil, hooked it onto the side of the fryer, used an instant read thermometer to make sure the internal temp hit 165 degrees, and let it rest for 20 minutes before nestling the fried bird onto a bed of greenery topped with aromatic fresh herbs and tucking the cranberry sauce poached pears to the side.
Fry me to the moon.
This article also appears on page 16 of the November 2021 print edition of Ace.
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