I remember when I first heard of fried turkey, on the Food Network all I could think of doing was replicating it myself. But the way it was demonstrated on TV, just wasn’t doable in apartment living, with it’s outdoor requirement and ‘hazmat’ like preparations. The taste of fried turkey eluded me for many years until one day in November of 2010, close to Thanksgiving. That year, I bought two small turkeys rather than a big one. The first one I cooked for the holiday, laboriously. It was a pain. Handling red hot turkey to separate the pieces on my apartment sized counter, and then putting it back in the oven, all so I could take pieces out as they were perfectly cooked. I thought to myself that there had to be a better way. So for the second turkey I cut it in to pieces. Now we usually buy whole chickens and end up piecing them out so butchering poultry was nothing new. I decided to try it on a larger bird and it’s just as easy. After cooking turkey pieced apart, I wish I would figured this out a long time ago. Here’s why:
Turkey in Separated Pieces Can Be Fried Just Like Chicken
Frying pieced turkey is just like frying pieced chicken, with a few minor adjustments. Bottom line is you don’t have to create elaborate frying contraptions or do it outside. Fry each piece of turkey like just as you would fry chicken. I recommend brining the turkey pieces and frying the pieces alone, without a coating or batter. Frying turkey pieces so the skin has a delicate crispness and the meat is done thoroughly requires two stages of heat. You want to start at 325F degrees. The first cooking period will have a consistent heat that will not burn the skin and will make up most of the cooking duration. Depending on how fast your oil recovers from the drop in temperature you’ll cook the pieces anywhere from 7 to 10 minutes per side, depending on the piece – use judgement and safe handling technique. For the second stage of cooking, raise the heat to 375 and fry until golden brown. Turkey skin is thicker than chicken skin and to get it crispy, the two stages of heat is key. Also, use an oil that can tolerate high heat, such as peanut oil.
Comes out Better Fried in Pieces
I had the opportunity to try fried turkey in a restaurant setting, a year later in Brooklyn and I was underwhelmed to say the least. My fried turkey, at home was far crisper, juicier and far more flavorful than the fried turkey I had, which was fried whole and didn’t taste too different from roasted turkey from the oven. They also didn’t brine or attempt to flavor it at all.
Piece Your Own Turkey
So unlike chicken I usually only see either ground turkey, or turkey breasts available so if you want to fry turkey on your range, you need to learn how to cut it yourself.
Note that it is crucial, for your health when doing any kind of frying to use a kitchen range hood. While this can be done in an apartment setting, it’s important to have adequate ventilation. Inhaling airborne particulate from frying at high heat is harmful to your health.