Roast it, Smoke it, or Deep Fry it, a Thanksgiving Turkey Dilemma

  • Roast Turkey
  • Smoked Turkey
  • Deep Fried Turkey
  • Or, maybe a combo?

Thanksgiving is on the way, the trees are changing color, the weather is cooler, and we are already starting to think about the holidays. No, we aren’t buying Christmas ornaments or hanging lights yet, but we know what’s coming.

I have seen many Thanksgivings come and go, some with family, some alone, but always with the thought of turkey. I have probably cooked turkey just about any way possible, I have roasted them, stuffed them, smoked them, deep fried them with and without being stuffed with mote fowl. I have removed the entire carcass (except leg, thigh, and wing bones) double stuffed, and reshaped and roasted, but that’s another story.

But when all is said and done, my favorite bird is one that has been smoked and deep fried.

If you have ever deep fried a turkey you know the most dangerous part is placing the bird into the hot oil as then you can create boil-overs, and minor to major liquid explosions, thus burning the house down to name a few.

My way eliminates or at least reduces these concerns tremendously. Why, because you work with a dry turkey.

To start with, you must first brine the bird. Brining is the act of soaking the meat in a sugar and salt water solution overnight. This will not make the bird salty or sweet, it will just enable the meat to encapsulate the moisture so you don’t dine on dry, tasteless turkey, you know, that stuff we used to eat at Thanksgiving.

The brine is simply one cup of iodine-less salt, one cup of sugar, and enough water to cover the bird.

It’s cooking day, more than likely Thanksgiving day itself. It should be noted that this can be done a day or two ahead of time and just reheat the bird before serving. You will still have a moist bird.

Remove the bird from the brine and allow to drip dry for a minute. Then season the outside and cavity, and place the turkey in a heavy-smoked smoker for 20 to 30 minutes.

The deep frying will destroy the flavor of pepper and aromatics; that is why you add them during the smoke, to allow for a little penetration. We don’t want the turkey to smoke for very long, we are not cooking it, we are adding a flavor layer, and we are thoroughly drying the bird’s surface.

Now move the bird from the smoker to the hot oil, still lower the bird slowly and carefully. I once had a mild boil-over while the deep fryer was set up in the street, and that oil stain lasted a year or two

You will notice from the pictures that there is almost no bubbling of oil as the bird is lowered into the oil. BUT, that lack of surface water /moisture is still a presumption.

The rule of thumb is to fry the turkey for 3 to 3 1/2 minutes per pound, I go more towards the 3 minute per pound myself, but then I don’t buy the biggest bird I can find.

Remove the bird from the oil, and if possible hang above the post to allow all of the oil to drain from the bird.

Let rest, carve, and enjoy the praise for a job well done.


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I love to read and cook, and I am at the age I am not afraid to share my opinion. There is the right way, the wrong way and Bill's way. 🙂
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