Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Cajun Fried Turkey

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Around this time of year, Food Network is a popular cable channel to watch for all their holiday recipe ideas. One show that I always enjoy watching during Thanksgiving season is Alton Brown's episode on Deep Fried Turkey (which you can watch in 3 parts here). Ever since I saw that episode, I've always wanted to try to make a fried turkey.

Since this year we decided to have a Thanksgiving menu that highlights various regions of the country, it was our opportunity to make a deep fried turkey with cajun seasoning. I came across the following recipe online since it makes use of cajun spices and allows us to fry it.

If you wanted, you could even make your turkey in advance... yes, it's possible and a great time saver! To make your turkey in advance, prepare the recipe as written a few days in advance and when it's done, cool your turkey completely. Properly wrap it and store in your refrigerator or even your freezer if making this well in advance. On the day you plan on serving it, all you need to do is heat it up and serve. The beauty of making this in advance is that your oven won't be tied up as long and you don't have to worry about juggling so many cooking tasks on turkey day!

- If you choose to heat up a cooked, refrigerated turkey, preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Place your cooked and cold cajun fried turkey in a roasting pan with a v-rack. Pour in 4-6 cups of chicken broth into the bottom of the pan and cover turkey with foil. Bake in the preheated oven for 2 hours until heated through. You can then use the drippings in the bottom of the roasting pan to make a homemade gravy.

- If you choose to heat up a cooked, frozen turkey, preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Place your cooked and frozen cajun fried turkey in a roasting pan with a v-rack. Pour in 4-6 cups of chicken broth into the bottom of the pan and cover turkey with foil. Bake in the preheated oven for 4 hours until heated through. You can then use the drippings in the bottom of the roasting pan to make a homemade gravy.



Cajun Fried Turkey
recipe adapted from Real Cajun Recipes & Alton Brown

12-15 pounds turkey
1 1/2 cup Italian dressing
1 stick butter
1 handful Cajun Seasonings
garlic powder and onion powder to taste
peanut oil amount depending on size of turkey



Two days prior to cooking:
Defrost turkey in the refrigerator or submerged in cold water, making sure you change the water ever 30 minutes to one hour.

One day prior:
Sift the Italian dressing to catch items too big for the injector needle. Melt a stick of butter and add to the strained dressing to make the marinade.

Take a handful of your favorite Cajun seasonings and add to marinade (some brands recommended to use include Tony Chachere's (TM) Creole seasoning, Chef Paul Prudhomme's® blackened seasoning, Zatarins® Creole seasoning, Cajun Shake seasonings, and any Cajun spice you can find). You can also purchase Cajun Injector seasoning from the store.

Add onion powder and garlic powder to marinade, to your tastes.

Use injector to inject marinade into the turkey breasts, thighs, and wings. Stick the needle all the way in. As you slowly pull out, slowly press and inject spices into the turkey. Inject from multiple angles for maximum coverage. The more you use, the juicier the turkey will be when you cook it. Also, rub seasoning on the outside of the turkey, under the skin, and the inside cavity as well.

Place turkey, legs up, on holder and place inside plastic oven roasting bag. Keep overnight in an ice chest with a little ice.

Morning of:
Figure out how much oil you will need to fry your turkey. In order to determine the correct amount of oil, place the bagged turkey into the pot that you will be frying it in, add water just until it barely covers the top of the turkey and is at least 4 to 5 inches below the top of the pot. This will be the amount of oil you use for frying the turkey. Remove the bagged turkey from the pot of water. Mark the level of water in your pot so you know what point to fill your turkey with oil.

Dry your fryer pot and fill with enough oil to your marked water level. (You don't need peanut oil, but it is recommended since this type of oil smokes less).

Bring the temperature of the oil to 250 degrees F. Once the temperature has reached 250, slowly lower the turkey into the oil and bring the temperature to 350 degrees F. Once it has reached 350, lower the heat in order to maintain 350 degrees F. Cook 2-3 minutes per pound. After 35 minutes, check the temperature of the turkey using a probe thermometer. Once the breast reaches 151 degrees F, gently remove from the oil and allow to rest for a minimum of 30 minutes prior to carving. The bird will reach an internal temperature of 161 degrees F due to carry over cooking. And never, ever cover pot with lid!

Remove and let the turkey rest before carving to allow the juices to redistribute. Carve as desired and enjoy!

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