Since I began working at Cabela’s, I have heard a lot about how simple and remarkable fried turkey is with Cabela’s famous Turkey Frying kits. Everyone is truly doing it.
Growing up, I was never an "inside" girl. When it comes to cooking, I did not inherit the "Martha Stewart" gene from my mother who can turn any meal into a feast. Nonetheless, I love to eat and certainly enjoy a delicious dinner, so I had to learn how to cook even though I am still too impatient to slave over a meal for hours. Since I began working at Cabela’s, I have heard a lot about how simple and remarkable fried turkey is with Cabela’s famous Turkey Frying kits. Everyone is truly doing it, and I wanted to learn more about this art of frying the big bird.
I was fortunate enough to attend a department barbecue recently where I got to see first-hand how to deep-fry a turkey. I was amazed how quickly the bird was cooked and how easily it fed the crowd. The 20-pound turkey only took about an hour to fry! All of the guests complimented the incredible taste, and told me that I would do back flips after eating a single morsel. While I did not do acrobatics across the yard, the turkey was a very delicious and would be a very impressive addition to any barbecue.
With the crispy cajun seasoning on the outside and the juicy marinade sealed on the inside, the zesty taste was definitely something worth bragging about and even made me want to become a full-time backyard chef. This fried turkey was great for the large department cookout, and I began thinking how great it would be for my future family gatherings. While the 20-pound turkey was great for our party, a smaller turkey or chicken would be just right for a family.
After devouring my share of the bird, I decided to inquire about what I needed to fry a turkey at a cookout of my own. First, I read all I could out of the Cabela’s catalog for information about this frying system, but then decided to talk to Jeff Phelps, a Cabela’s Camping Purchasing Specialist, who helped answer my questions.
Where should you fry?
A deck shield is available to protect your garage floor, driveway, or yard. However, Jeff suggests that you select an open, outdoor environment for frying due to the fire and burning hazard of the hot oil. He added, "Don’t fry on the grass. The oil will kill your lawn, and you should never fry on a wooden deck. A gravel area is the best, but if you have to fry on something other than a gravel surface, place a piece of cardboard under the fryer base to avoid too much of a mess." You should also consider that frying outside keeps the frying oil odor, which can linger for days, out of your house or garage.
What are some suggested safety precautions?
Because of the high temperature and great amount of oil being used, an ABC fire extinguisher should always be close at hand in case of any sudden emergencies. This type of extinguisher is specifically for oil fires. You should never leave the turkey fryer unattended, and the temperature should be regulated to avoid an oil overflow or fire. Because the hot oil can cause severe burns, you should always wear leather gloves, long pants, a long-sleeved shirt, and close-toed shoes while frying. You should also keep children and pets away from the hot oil and frying system.
How much oil is needed?
You only need enough oil to cover the bird, but not too much so that it overflows when the bird is immersed. "An accurate measurement of how much oil is needed is simple. You wouldn’t fill a bathtub to the brim and expect it not to overflow when you got in. You would fill it with just enough water to leave room for your body," Jeff says. "You should begin by buying 4 O gallons of Miracle Oil. Although you may not use all of it for your first fry, it never hurts to have extra oil on hand."
Before filling the pot with peanut oil, place the turkey inside and fill it with water just below the top of the bird. Remove the turkey and drain the water trapped inside the carcass. Mark the level of water in the pot with a permanent marker. Empty the remaining water and dry both the pot and turkey thoroughly. Once everything is completely dry, add the peanut oil and preheat to 350 degrees.
Can you use a different type of oil other than peanut?
While peanut oil gives the turkey the best flavor, cottonseed oil can also be used or a combination of the two. Vegetable oil is not suggested for frying use because it lacks any added flavor. Peanut oil is generally used because of its high flash point, preventing unwanted flare-ups.
If you are concerned with the health factors, peanut oil is low in saturated fat and cholesterol and high in monounsaturated fat, while cottonseed oil is cholesterol free. Jeff adds, "To decrease cholesterol intake further, the bird’s skin can be removed after it has been fried. The skin simply traps the juice and marinade inside the bird while it is being fried. The meat actually has little cholesterol."
Can the oil be reused?
By using Cabela’s Battery Operated Oil Filter Kit, the oil can be recycled for repeated use. "You will find that after the oil has cooled and you are ready to transfer it into a container, most of the sediment is in the bottom of the pot. You can usually filter the good oil on top and dispose of the sediment at the bottom, which keeps your oil clean and reusable with minimal filter clogging," Jeff told me. "The oil does not have to be refrigerated. I store mine in a cool place until I need it for a big cookout. Do keep in mind that while the oil can be filtered many times, over time it can begin to look very cloudy and should be replaced for better frying results."
Do you suggest injecting the bird with a marinade?
To enhance the taste of your turkey or game, you can inject a marinade into the meat with an injector that looks like a large syringe. Although you don’t have to inject the bird with a marinade, it does add a great flavor and makes the meat mouth-watering. "I encourage people to experiment with seasonings and marinades to spice up an ordinary turkey. I like to inject half the bird with one marinade such as Polynesian Pineapple and the other side with Teriyaki flavoring to give the meat two distinct, yet delicious tastes," Jeff suggests.
How big of a turkey will fit in the fryer pot, and when should the bird be submersed into the oil?
The 30-quart pot will hold birds up to 20 lbs. while the 24-quart pot will hold birds up 16 lbs. The turkey should be clean and dry, inside and out. It is very important that you pat dry the turkey because excess water will cause the oil to splatter. For added flavor, inject a selected marinade and cover the outside of the bird with Cajun seasoning.
Once the oil is heated to 350 degrees, place the turkey into the basket or on the rack, and slowly lower it into the pot, being very careful not to splash the hot oil. Again, this is where gloves, protective clothing, and shoes become necessary.
How do you regulate the temperature and how long does it take to fry?
Each kit comes with a high-BTU recessed single burner complete with a high-pressure hose and regulator. The propane flow can be adjusted with the regulator to increase or decrease temperature. At a constant 350 degrees, a bird should cook 3O minutes per pound. For a 12-pound bird, that is only 42 minutes in the fryer. Compared to eight hours in the smoker or four hours in the oven, that is a quick and easy meal. When the proposed cooking time has passed, check the thigh joint to see if it is well cooked.
What else can I use my turkey fryer for?
The Turkey Fryer is great for frying other foods like seafood, onion rings, or potatoes in the basket, but the cooking time may vary and should be checked periodically. Fill it with water, and the Turkey Fryer is great for boiling clams, lobsters, shrimp, crawdads, potatoes, corn-on-the-cob, or other vegetables.
Stainless Steel vs. Aluminum
Stainless steel cooking vessels are unsurpassed for durability, easy clean up and standing up to high cooking temperatures. "Cleaning aluminum pots require more elbow grease with an SOS pad," Jeff warns. "Generally the inside is much easier to clean because the oil comes off fairly easily while on the outside, oil may splash over the edges get burned on." Both the stainless steel and aluminum pots are narrow at the base, so less oil is needed.
What is included in Cabela’s unique fryer system?
Cabela’s has several Turkey Frying kits to offer. Each includes everything you need to produce the savory aroma and taste of deep-fried turkey. Please see the specifications for each kit for included accessories.
Safety rings: keep pots securely in place and provide a stable foundation to prevent tipping.
Strong handles: give you a firm grip.
Side shelf: attaches to side of the fryer for holding seasonings, accessories, fire extinguisher, etc.
12" Thermometer: to accurately and safely monitor the temperature of the fryer oil.
Strainer/Boiling Baskets: fits inside the fryer pot to fry or boil fish or vegetables.
Lifting rack: spears through the middle of the turkey and hooks onto the lifting rod for easy raising and lowering.
Lifting rod: provides more stability, making it easier to safely lift heavy birds and vegetables.
Recipe booklet: informs you of deep fry cooking secrets to cook like a pro in no time.
Suggested accessories to make your fryer more useful:
Deck shield: protects surface from unwanted spilled oil and creates a level base for the fryer to sit.
Marinade Injector: has a heavy-gauge needle with holes on either side to deliver marinade evenly throughout the meat. There are a variety of marinades to please any appetite.
Battery Operated Oil Filter Kit: pumps oil from the cooking pot, filters it and transfers it into your oil storage container so you can reuse it again and again. OR
Oil Filtration System: funnel and filter kit re-filters used oil quickly and safely, removing nearly all food particles and cooking remainders.
Peanut oil: is regarded among outdoor chefs as the finest oil for cooking turkeys, fish, etc.
I may have never been the daughter who shadowed my mother in the kitchen, but thanks to Jeff Phelps and Cabela’s, I am learning alternatives to help me create savory meals that taste even better than mom’s - but don’t tell her that! Frying a turkey is great entertainment, easy, and quick. What more could I ask for? Watch out Martha Stewart - Cabela’s Turkey Frying kits are bound to take over the backyard and family cookouts!