Thursday, November 29, 2007

Love to eat turkey, pt. 2

I know I should be posting every day, but life is busy, and sometimes, something just has to give. Sorry.

Also, this is a blog post about eating meat, and loving it. For those who are vegetarian/vegan/foodophobes, you may want to pass.

I had never eaten deep fried turkey before coming to the south. Oh, I'd heard rumours about it, and scoffed with the rest of my northern friends and family about what crazy people there were living in the south. A whole turkey? Plunked into a deep fryer? Only in the south.

Of course, the trend has spread far and wide, now, but when I first came to the south about ten years ago, it was still a fairly regional thing.

I have come to love fried turkey with a passion. When it's prepared right, the meat is succulent, and the skin is deliciously crispy. Really, the skin is the best part. I could live off of fried turkey skin. And I don't know anyone who fries a turkey better than my father-in-law. He brines the bird with spices and wine the day before he fries it, so the skin takes on a lovely reddish hue, and the meat just oozes juice when you cut into it. But, I admit, he's made me nervous on more than one occasion with the fryer.

You see, frying a turkey is not for the faint of heart. It requires gallons of peanut oil, a very large pot to cook in, and a free standing propane burner. Looking at the set-up itself is kind of scary. You've got an open flame underneath a pot filled with bubbling oil. It's a disaster waiting to happen. And disasters do happen. Every year there's always a story about some idiot who fried a turkey on their deck and set it and the house on fire because the turkey was too big for the pot, the oil boiled over and set everything aflame.

And I honestly thought that was going to happen one Christmas when I was pregnant with TFYO.

I was already a little paranoid, being pregnant and whatnot. I avoided everything I thought would be bad for me (including Ray's Aunt Faye's marvelous oyster dressing, what an idiot I was!). So I almost had a heart attack when I asked where Ray's dad was with the turkey fryer, and the answer was:

"Oh, he's got it set up in the garage."

I freaked out a little, but I freaked out a lot when I actually looked in Aunt Faye's garage. The place was filled with cut lumber, tins of paint thinner, and enough sawdust to throw a square dance. And there was Ray's Dad, with the turkey fryer happily bubbling away, in the midst of it.

I stared at my husband, and whispered "Is he insane? He's gonna blow us all up!"

My husband didn't seem disturbed, because apparently this happened pretty frequently, but he dutifully asked his dad if he didn't think it would be better to do that outside on the driveway.

"Naw, it's too cold and too windy, couldn't keep the burner lit. It's much better in here."

I know I looked horrified, because he asked Ray what my problem was, and seemed mightily offended that I seemed to think he couldn't handle a little turkey fryer in the garage.

"It's not like I don't have the doors and windows cracked open!"

I spent most of that Christmas before the turkey was done as far on the other side of the house from the garage as I could. Unfortunately for me, that meant spending a lot of time in the bathroom, which led to everyone wondering if I was okay, and if I was having a rough pregnancy. I just had to keep telling them the baby was weighing a little heavy on my bladder. After all, I was due in less than a month, how could they fault me for that?

Obviously, my FIL didn't blow the house up. But I have noticed that when I'm around, he fries the turkey just a little bit farther from the house than he used to. I think it's better for both of us this way.


Diana said...

I've had fried turkey once and thought it was good but not that much better than roasted turkey, but then there had been no brining and wining and the rest of it.

(What the hell do they do with the gallons of left over oil? Or should I just not think about it?)

JRH said...

Ha! That was hilarious! I haven't tried fried turkey, either, and although I'm sure it's delicious, I really can't imagine how it could be much better than the roast turkey my SIL prepared last week.

Mr. Me's brother is a dispatcher for the fire department and receieve a call on Thanksgiving day a few years back. The lady's clothesdryer was on fire...she had been using it to defrost her turkey. So you see, it isn't really the turkey fryers that are dangerous, it's the goofy people out there.

JRH said...

Ah, that was Mrs. Me's brother. I guess I am Mr. Me, huh?

PixelPi said...

Before I re-started being a vegetarian this year, I had tasted deep-fried turkey, and I was surprised that there was a subtle taste difference. However, the entire cooking process looks like something really bad ready to happen at any moment. Oil + fire = Danger Will Robinson.

Nevertheless, the fried turkey was good. Not good enough to make me quit veggies yet, though.

The Rotten Correspondent said...

I've never had fried turkey, but, like you, have had some scary fried turkey moments. All that boiling oil scares the bejeezus out of me.

It's just the perfect set-up for a "hold my beer and watch this" moment.

Willowtree said...

I'd never heard of this until last year when Swampy posted pictures of an actual turkey fry.

It still seems a high risk way of cooking something that large, particularly when most folks own an oven, which to the best of my knowledge was designed with cooking food in mind.

laurie said...

i still have not tried fried turkey. and while you could live on the fried skin (and i bet i could too) nobody would want to be around us after a couple of weeks of that for dinner.

imagine our girth....

Jo Beaufoix said...

Hee hee. I'd have been with you hiding from the possible apocalypse.
And this post scared me much ess than Mya's meat adverts and Dumdad's brains. Bleurghhhhh.

Teresa said...

This post is hilarious! I got a really clear picture in my mind of what the garage must've looked like and it sent shudders up my spine. I've had deep fried turkey twice and the best was from a restaurant that delivered it to our friends' house for a holiday party. No fuss, no muss, no scary hot oil. And...the friends are Japanese American and quite frankly, don't eat much poultry. So I was asked to carve, which I did with glee as I got dibs on the best of that crackly fried turkey skin!