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Tricks For Deep Frying A Turkey In Extreme Cold

Ken Hayes

I know I’ve been on a kick lately on deep frying turkey.  I did one for Thanksgiving this year and it was such a hit, I was asked again to deep fry one for Christmas.   We had a pretty big gathering with close to 30 people, so we needed several entrees.  My turkey was one of the main meats, along with a ham, and a prime rib.  Because we lacked oven space, it would work out great to fry a turkey outside.  The only problem?  It was -2 F outside.

I wasn’t really concerned about the cold weather… what would be the difference?  Turns out there are a few things to keep in mind.

  • A windy day will ruin your turkey.  With it being so cold outside, you need make sure you are somehow blocking wind from hitting the burner so the flame can heat the oil.  You’ll need ever BTU to get that temp up and maintain.  At the same time, do not bring the fryer anywhere indoors or near a roof.  Some people make a little make shift barrier blocking the wind from the burner.
  • Your oil thermometer can freeze.  It happened to me.  I was warming up the oil and noticed the thermometer was stuck.  That’s a big uh-oh.  Without knowing the temperature, you can’t deep fry a turkey.  Solution- I ran it under hot water, tapped it a few times on the counter, and thoroughly dried off.  I’m thinking about getting another one as a back up.
  • Lighting the burner can be difficult.  It was so cold that I couldn’t get my kitchen lighter to ignite.    I ended up having to resort to matches.
  • If you store your oil outside, make sure it isn’t a frozen brick.  I had to bring my oil in to thaw overnight.  That would have been a mess if I waited til the last minute.
  • Keep in mind that with the below freezing temps, there is a lot more steam.  Makes it kind of hard to see what you’re doing, especially when you are lowering the turkey in.  Take your time.
  • And this could be my imagination, but I swear it happened.  When I opened the lid to take the turkey out, the oil started to go a little nuts.  This is just a theory:  the cold air hitting the hot oil causes a little bit of a reaction.  So i put the lid back on right away, turned off the burner, and just cracked the top of the lid to slowly let the oil cool.  After about 45 seconds, the oil settled down enough so I could take the turkey out.

So there you go, it is possible to deep fry a turkey when it’s below zero!

 

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