In the United States, turkey may top the list as one of the most important and nostalgic holiday-time foods. It is often the centerpiece of holiday meals, and its ubiquity cannot be understated. It’s become so ubiquitous, in fact, that it’s almost as if we’ve forgot to ask: is it even good?
As of late, it’s become fashionable to criticize turkey. More than a handful of times I’ve heard people denounce turkey as the “worst part of the thanksgiving meal.” While I might not go this far—there is no way turkey is worse than creamed onions I was once served—it is true turkey hardly ever tops the list as the best thing on the table. I mean, how can a humble bird that can hardly fly compete with mac and cheese? Or stuffing? Or mashed potatoes?
Here’s the thing about turkey: it’s very easy to make a turkey bad and it’s very hard to make it good. But if there is one commonality out of all the “good” turkeys I’ve tried, it is this: succulence.
If succulence is the goal of turkey, how does one go about achieving it? If this question could be easily answered, then you wouldn’t be reading this blogpost and I wouldn’t be writing it. While I can make no guarantees of a succulent turkey, I do believe there is one method that increases your succulence odds—and that is by deep frying your turkey.
While I don’t necessarily feel the need to convert the purists of the turkey world, there are a few reasons why frying is the way to go:
- First and most importantly: the cook. The meat is juicier and the skin is crisper.
- Oven space. This is the most overlooked pro of frying a turkey: it frees up your oven.
- It’s faster. Depending on size, you can typically cook it in less than an hour.
Purists might argue that there are drawbacks, and there are—sorta. Let me explain:
- You have to cook the turkey outside for safety reasons. I personally don’t see this as a drawback (unless you live in an apartment). Cooking outside is fun, and as I mentioned, it frees up an oven.
- Gravy. It’s true. There are no pan drippings when you fry so you’ll have to make your gravy from scratch. I viewed this as the biggest pitfall until I tried making the gravy from scratch with chicken stock…and it was by far the best gravy I’ve ever had.
- You need to completely thaw the turkey before frying (for safety reasons). Well, I do this when I cook it in the oven, too, so this one doesn’t count.