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Cajun Deep-Fried Turkey

Cajun Deep-Fried TurkeyBe sure to read the safety tips and helpful hints before beginning preparation and cooking.

Recipe Ingredients:

1/2 cup kosher salt
3 tablespoons onion powder
3 tablespoons black pepper
3 tablespoons white pepper
2 tablespoons sweet basil
2 teaspoons bay leaves, ground
1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
2 teaspoons filé powder
3 tablespoons garlic powder
1 1/2 tablespoons paprika
1 (10 to 12-pound) whole turkey, non self-basting
4 to 5 Gallons peanut oil

Cooking Directions:

  1. Stir salt, herbs and peppers together. Mix until well blended. Use 1/2 to 2/3 cup for a 10 to 12 pound turkey. May be stored for several months in an airtight covered jar.
  2. Remove the giblets and neck, rinse the turkey well with cold water and pat dry thoroughly with paper towels. Take care to dry both inside cavities. Place in a large pan and rub the interior and exterior of the bird with seasoning mix. To allow for good oil circulation through the cavity, do not truss or tie legs together. Cut off the wing tips and plump little tail as they may get caught in the fryer basket. Cover pan and place in refrigerator overnight.
  3. Place the OUTDOOR gas burner on a level dirt or grassy area. Never fry a turkey indoors, in a garage or in any structure attached to a building. Do not fry on wood decks, which could catch fire, or concrete, which could be stained by the oil. (Safety tip: have a fire extinguisher nearby for added safety.)
  4. Add oil to a 7-10 gallon pot with a basket or rack. At the medium-high setting, heat the oil to 375°F (190°C), (depending on the amount of oil, outside temperature and wind conditions, this should take about 40+ minutes).
  5. Meanwhile, place the turkey in a basket or on a rack, neck down.
  6. When the oil temperature registers 375°F (190°C) on a deep-fry thermometer, slowly lower the turkey into the hot oil. The level of the oil will rise due to the frothing caused by the moisture from the turkey but will stabilize in about one minute. (Safety tips: to prevent burns from the splattering oil wear oven mitts/gloves, long sleeves, heavy shoes and even glasses. It is wise to have two people lowering and raising the turkey.)
  7. Immediately check the oil temperature and increase the flame so the oil temperature is maintained at 350°F (175°C). If the temperature drops to 340°F (170°C) or below, oil will begin to seep into the turkey.
  8. Fry about 3 to 4 minutes per pound, or about 35 to 42 minutes for a 10 to 12 pound turkey. Stay with the cooker at all times as the heat must be regulated.
  9. When cooked to 170°F (80°C) in the breast or 180°F (85°C) in the thigh, carefully remove the turkey from the hot oil. Allow the turkey to drain for a few minutes. (Safety tip: allow the oil to cool completely before storing or disposing.)
  10. Remove turkey from the rack and place on a serving platter. Allow to rest for 20 minutes before carving.

Makes 12 servings.

Fryer Caution Safety Tips:

  • Remember you are dealing with gallons of dangerously hot oil, so make sure there are no kids or pets running around. And you want to wear some old shoes that you can slip out of easily and long pants just in case you do spill some oil on you.
  • Place fryer on level dirt or grassy area. Never fry a turkey indoors, in a garage or in any other structure attached to a building. Avoid frying on wood decks, which could catch fire, and concrete, which can be stained by the oil.
  • Never leave the hot oil unattended and don't allow children or pets near the cooking area.
  • Allow the oil to cool completely before disposing or storing.
  • Immediately wash hands, utensils, equipment and surfaces that have come in contact with raw turkey.
  • Turkey should be consumed immediately and leftovers stored in the refrigerator within two hours of cooking.

(Source for Safety Tips: The National Turkey Federation (202) 898-0100.)

Helpful Hints:

  • Use only oils with high smoke points, such as peanut, canola or safflower oil.
  • To determine the correct amount of oil, place the turkey in the pot before adding seasoning and add water until turkey is covered. Take turkey out of the water before marking the oil level. Measure the amount of water and use a corresponding amount of oil. Dry the pot thoroughly of all water.
  • Large containers of peanut oil are available at membership warehouse stores, supermarkets, discount department stores.
  • Turkey cookers with pots and propane burners can be bought at large supermarkets, sporting goods stores, restaurant suppliers, building-supply stores, and hardware stores.
  • Injectors are available at specialty cookware stores, department stores, and some of the outlets mentioned above.
  • If you don't have a cooker and stockpot and don't want to buy them, they can be rented at party supply stores.
  • The injector is easier to fill if you remove the needle.
  • The oil may be strained to remove food particles and reused. It may also be disposed of with regular garbage.

Recipe and photograph provided courtesy of the National Turkey Federation. Recipe was developed by Janet Trent of Sanford, NC. The recipe was a finalist in the 1999 North Carolina Turkey Cooking Contest, sponsored by the North Carolina Turkey Federation. Photograph courtesy of LouAna® Foods.