Deep Fried Turkey--Is it Worth the Danger?
On Thanksgiving more and more people attempt to make a deep fried turkey. And though a deep fried turkey is very delicious, and not as greasy as it sounds, the actual frying can be extremely dangerous. According to the U.S. Fire Administration (USFA), nearly 4,300 fires occur on Thanksgiving causing 15 deaths and almost $27 million in property damage, many of them due to deep frying accidents.
Deep frying a turkey can be an advantage if you are pressed for time, since the turkey cooks extremely fast (3-4 minutes per pound according to the National Turkey Federation), but with all that speed comes a higher risk of accidents.
How Much Oil?
Most recipes call for peanut, corn or canola oil--but just how much oil is necessary? Many turkey frying accidents happen when too much cooking oil is used and spills over the pot, catching fire when the turkey is dropped in. Here is a simple way to figure out how much oil to use:
Place turkey in pot
Fill with water until the turkey is covered by about 1/2 inch of water
Remove and dry turkey (a wet turkey can cause oil to splatter latter)
Mark water level. Dump water, dry the pot, and fill with oil to the marked level
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) said that most deep fried turkey accidents occur while the oil is being heated, prior to even adding the turkey. This means we must be extra vigilant when heating the oil, and turn off the fryer immediately if any smoke shows.
Here are some safety tips from the CPSC for preparing your own delicious deep fried turkey, without burning your house down:
NEVER leave a fryer unattended
Place fryer in an open area AWAY from all walls, fences, or other structures
Never use your fryer IN, ON, or UNDER a garage, breezeway, carport, porch, or any structure that can catch fire
Completely thaw (USDA says 24 hours for every 4 to 5 pounds) and dry turkey before cooking. Partially frozen and/or wet turkeys can produce excessive hot oil splatter when added to the oil
Center the pot over the burner on the cooker
Raise and lower food SLOWLY to reduce splatter and avoid burns
COVER bare skin when adding or removing food
Check the oil temperature frequently
If oil begins to smoke, immediately turn gas supply OFF
If a fire occurs, immediately call 911. DO NOT attempt to extinguish fire with water