How To Fry a Turkey Indoors

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.

How To Choosing Cheap Meat

meats1On the average, Americans consume 11 ounces of meat per day. That’s a world topping 250 pounds per person per year. Now I am not saying that to eat frugally that you must switch to vegetarianism or veganism, but some good advice I received recently was to use meat as more of a condiment. What do I mean by this? Instead of using the recipes whole pound of beef, try using ¼ as much. Beef stroganoff calls for beef tenderloin; at $10.00 a pound there is no way to serve your family a serving under $1. But cut it to ¼ as much, $2.50 and make 6-8 servings and the math works. And beef stroganoff receives the bulk of its flavor from bouillon, sour cream and dill.

My recommendations when selecting the inexpensive cuts of meat can be used as a guide to help in your decisions.

Best Beef for Grilling – Flank steaks and skirt steaks. They come off the grill flavorful and tender.
Best Beef for Roasting/Smoking – Chuck roast. Try braising in beer, wine or broth.
Best Beef for Pan Searing – Top sirloin butt. Try pan frying in a half and half mixture off butter and olive oil.

Best Pork for Grilling – Ribs, what can I say?
Best Pork for Roasting/Smoking – Pork shoulder, just cook it low and slow.
Best Pork for Pan Searing – Pork chops. That caramelization is superb.

Best Poultry for Grilling – Chicken leg, the combination of smoke char and dark meat is wonderful.
Best Poultry for Roasting/Smoking – Turkey, buy them on sale at Thanksgiving and freeze a few.
Best Poultry for Pan Searing – Chicken thighs, that meat close to the bone has the best flavor.

Let’s talk tenderizing those cheap cuts of your favorite meat. There are 3 methods of tenderizing meats in the kitchen. First is to pound the heck out of the meat or grind it up. You are trying to break down those fibers in the meat so that it will come apart easier. If this doesn’t work, a less efficient method is marinate. The acid in citrus can help break down those stubborn fibers. But for marinate to be effective, it needs to be injected all through the meat. The last way is to slow cook the meat by stewing boiling or braising. Or try smoking the meat in a wood smoker for several hours.

Here are some of the lesser used cuts.

Chuck eye steak is tougher than an average steak and will require marinate.
Tri-tip or sirloin tip which comes from the hind leg of a cow.
Pork shoulder is best used in soups, stews and smoked low and slow for hours.
Flank steak is good for fajitas and thinly sliced beef recipes.
Oxtails are very bony which imparts good flavor to the meat.
A nice fat turkey can provide for several meals.
Beef short ribs also smoke well and gather flavor from the bone.
Chicken thighs are the best tasting part of the chicken.