This special Hunger for Life and turkey-cooking adventure is in celebration of Fit Bottomed Dude’s Week over on FBG! Check out all of the special dude-friendly content here.
March might not be the typical time to talk turkey—after all, we have eight more months before Thanksgiving. Well, as far as I’m concerned, determining the best way to cook the holiday bird is a big decision, and why put off the research?
(Tasty, tasty research.)
Turkey at my house over the past several years has been a fried turkey. After trying some fried turkey at a friend’s house I was hooked. It was the most delicious and tender turkey I had ever had. (Sorry, Mom and Grandma.) For my first Thanksgiving Fried Turkey, I enlisted a friend’s help. I was a little nervous at first about, you know, blowing myself up, but I did my homework. I bought a defrosted bird and brined it for a good 24 hours. And oh, brining could be another full post, but trust me when I say that you can have a lot of fun playing with a variety of flavors. Anyway, no explosions occurred, I still have all my body parts, my house is still standing, and we had many delicious turkeys.
Still, turkey frying can be very dangerous and messy, not to mention pricey and downright inconvenient. You need many gallons of oil, an outdoor location to cook, and a fully defrosted (re: unarmed) turkey. The upside is that the cooking time can be as little as 45 minutes compared to the two to four hours in the oven, so you miss as little football as possible.
Time for a Change
Sadly, my trusty fryer saw its last turkey in 2011, so I began the search for a new one. I had heard about infrared fryers before, and knew that, unlike traditional fryers that heat oil to cook the turkey, these oilless fryers circulate heat throughout the pot to allow for even cooking. I liked the fact that they didn’t use oil, making the cooking process a bit safer, less messy and, of course, who’s going to complain if the end result was a healthier meal?
I started out feeling a bit skeptical (and afraid of the price), but as Thanksgiving 2012 closed in I read A LOT of reviews on the Char-Broil Big Easy Oilless Turkey Fryer. What lifted my hopes was that many seasoned turkey fryers loved this thing. It was difficult to find a negative review, even with the $100 price tag. So, when I found myself without a fryer a week before Turkey Day, I pulled the trigger and made the purchase.
To fully test out the new fryer, I kept the prep work the same as with a traditional fried turkey. I bought the same type of turkey and brined it like I had in past years. With an infrared fryer, you can brine or use marinades, or, unlike traditional fryers, you can even use a dry spice rub on your bird.
The cooking time was slightly longer than a traditional fryer. According to the directions, the cooking time is about 10 minutes per pound as opposed to about 4 minutes per pound for oil—not a huge deal, but something you definitely need to plan for.
Now, there were two big questions around my house: 1. Was the flavor as good as years past? The answer to this one was a resounding yes. The turkey was just as moist and delicious as any fried turkey I’d ever had.
Question #2: My family LOVES the crispy skin of a fried turkey. Would that translate over into the new fryer? The answer was…almost. I cheated and rubbed a little oil on the outside of the turkey before placing it in the fryer. The skin came out crispy, but not quite as much as with the traditional method. Next time, I will rub a little more oil on it and cook it an extra 10 to 15 minutes to crisp the skin up a bit more (just for you, Mom).
Overall, I loved the Char-Broil Big Easy Oilless Turkey Fryer. The turkey came out just as flavorful and moist as any turkey I have fried with oil. I loved being able to tell all of my guests that this year’s turkey dinner was healthier than last year’s. The increased cooking time was a minor annoyance, but the fact that I didn’t have to constantly monitor the fryer to watch for potential explosions freed me up to do other things, like check out the holiday beer selection with the guys. And? Cleaning up this fryer was a snap compared to an oil fryer.
The Char-Broil Big Easy Oilless Turkey Fryer gets a big thumbs up from me. There is also a smoker/grill model on there. And you might want to keep an eye on your local Lowe’s and Home Depot as I have seen these units on sale around summertime. Don’t be like me and wait until the last minute!
Have you ever used an oilless turkey fryer? What was your experience? —Jared Seymour