If you’re tasked with hosting Thanksgiving, you’ve got a lot on your plate—and, unfortunately, we don’t mean that literally. In addition to worrying about where your guests will stay and who plays nice with whom, there’s the small matter of making sure the meal’s centerpiece is tasty—or at least palatable.
Depending on the size of your oven, making fried turkey might be the highest-percentage solution to the problem. Unfortunately, fried fowl is near the bottom of most nutritionists’ lists of healthy turkey recipes. And it’s not known as a particularly safe endeavor for those without the proper setup. But a few simple tips may just save the day come November.
Use Cottonseed Oil
It takes a lot of oil to fry a turkey properly, and not just any will do. For several reasons, you should opt for cottonseed oil. A few reasons why:
- Cottonseed oil has a higher smoke point than most other cooking oils, reducing the risk of fire or scorched turkey
- It’s more durable and better able to withstand hours of high-temperature cooking
- It doesn’t have a greasy, oily flavor like some alternatives
- It has a favorable fat profile, with lots of healthy omega fatty acids, few saturated fats, and no trans fats
Follow All Written Instructions
Turkey frying accidents cause thousands of fires and injuries every year. So before you fire up your fryer, carefully read (and follow) all written instructions that come with it. For good measure, consult a reputable cookbook (online or otherwise) for a vetted, safe fried turkey recipe. Things to keep in mind include, but aren’t limited to:
- Keeping the fryer well clear of anything flammable
- Not frying inside
- Keeping an appropriate distance from the fryer when it’s operational
Leave the Kids Inside
For all the above reasons and more, it’s not a good idea to fry with your kids present, even if they’re gung-ho on the idea. There are just too many things that could go wrong. If they really want to help, let them hang out inside and help make the salad or stuffing.
Don’t Forget the Salad
Cooking with cottonseed oil might be a good way to make a safe, tasty, and reasonably healthy fried turkey, but we’re still talking about a gigantic fried bird here. To bring some real wholesomeness to your Thanksgiving table, supplement your bird, stuffing, cranberry sauce and rolls with a hearty green salad, preferably with a dark, leafy vegetable like spinach as its base. Your heart—and digestive tract—will thank you in the morning.
OK, so fried turkey won’t ever be as healthy or safe as loading your plate up with greens and grinning through gritted teeth. But what fun is Thanksgiving if you can’t live a little? By following these fried turkey tips, your next Turkey Day could actually be worth remembering—and that’s something to smile about.