⁰Season’s Greetings and welcome back to Uncle Tom’s Corner. It’s great to see so many repeat offenders. I say Season’s Greetings for a couple of reasons:
1) I want to talk about seasonings and we’re pretty much into the Holiday Season by now.
2) When we get past Thanksgiving I’ll switch over to Christmas and ask you to insert your holiday of choice, be it Hanukah, Kwanza, Festivus or whatever.
In the meantime, as I told you in one of the first of these columns, I’m a firm believer that the world needs more humor; that I am the greatest fan of my own wit; and that if you can’t make fun of yourself you really shouldn’t make fun of anyone else. I once had a boss who accused me of employing self-deprecating humor. I thought it was more a matter of “taking one for the team”. Regardless of the motivation I have a rather humorous story for you.
My last column was about prepping and smoking a turkey. This one is about frying a turkey…or 10 of ‘em, as it turns out.
I used to call on this guy, Tony, and he talked endlessly about the merits of frying turkeys:
- You can fry a 12 to 14 pound turkey in about 45 minutes.
- By frying it at such a high temperature it basically cauterizes the skin thus preventing the escape of all those succulent juices so a dried-out bird becomes an instant thing of the past.
- The skin is so crisp and tasty that it’s almost preferable to the actual meat…almost.
- Yadda, yadda, yadda.
- The downside is that when the bird is lowered into the hot oil (somewhere around 4oo⁰) it tends to spew out roughly akin to Mt. Vesuvius erupting.
- If your reflexes aren’t quick enough you can potentially incur some serious burns.
- There have been more than a few instances of garages/ houses/foliage catching fire as a result of turkey fryers.
- If you’re looking for a Norman Rockwell family photo-op featuring Old Dad carving up a picture-perfect golden brown roasted bird this ain’t it. They come out sorta butt-ugly. But all of life is a trade-off and the taste of the bird makes up for the lack of esthetics.
Intrigued by the positives and undaunted by the negatives I was convinced this was something I should try. As luck would have it the timing bordered on perfect…the old Rocky Mountain news had printed a recipe for a delicious sounding injection for Cajun fried turkey; it was approaching Christmas; the Board I belonged to was hosting their annual Holiday party; and this would be a wonderful thing to share with my neighbors. Two for the Board, one for our household and one for each of our seven neighbors. 10.
First I ordered 10 fresh, never-frozen turkeys. Next I bought the turkey fryer. Then came the five gallons of peanut oil. Then came a fire extinguisher just in case the whole thing went awry. Discounting the possibility of setting the house on fire I reasoned that if that hot oil got on me I’d rather deal with CO2 frostbite than the burning oil. Next came some heavy duty suede leather gloves (I think they’re welders gloves) for handling the basket used for lowering and raising the turkey(s). Then I needed a delivery implement for injecting the spice solution. Lastly came all the vegetables and spices used in the injection. As an afterthought I picked up a wooden shipping pallet so the fryer would have a solid and stable surface to rest on.
Now, finally, we’re getting to the real story. The injection recipe called for lots of onions, peppers, white pepper, hot sauce and I don’t remember what else. Melted butter. Lots of melted butter. And hot sauce. This stuff should have been in a toxic chemical waste dump. Additionally, the recipe called for lots of slicing and dicing, stewing and sautéing. Then the instructions said to put all this stuff in a blender, liquefy it, pull it up in a syringe and pump it into the turkey.
I did the slicing and dicing, the stewing and sautéing, the measuring and melting. Our kitchen looked like a mad scientist’s chemistry lab. The first batch of injection completed I pumped it into the turkey and was ready for Phase II of this grand culinary experiment.
I had fired up the fryer and let the oil come up to temperature (400 ⁰). When I lowered in the first bird the whole thing reacted just as I had been told. The oil came shooting up from the depths of the cooker thus soaking the outside of the pot and the wooden pallet. But no fire, no burns requiring skin grafts, life is good.
All that was going OK until I reasoned that the part taking way too much time was preparing all the injectable stuff one bird at a time. Here is “guy thinking” at its best. “I’ll do a bunch…like maybe five batches…all at once and I can be injecting one bird while another one is in the fryer.” Henry Ford would’ve been so proud.
It was all going according to the revised plan with the large-batch slicing and dicing and stewing and sautéing, melting and measuring…right up to the part when I put it in the blender and hit “liquefy”. I had my hand on top of the lid to make sure it didn’t come off; the hot stuff recently removed from the stove rose in the blender and some of it came out around the little glass stopper in the lid; it burned and I jerked my hand away. The lid came off the blender and that crap went everywhere.
After recovering from the horror of the mess I had just created in our kitchen it was time to soldier on and finish with the remainder of the 10 birds. I called my wife, told her what had happened and assured her that I’d clean up the mess when I got home from delivering all the birds.
I got ‘em finished and delivered; came home and started wiping down the countertops, the cupboards, the walls, the ceiling and the kitchen floor. If the oil was to spew like Vesuvius this hot soup went up and out. It was everywhere. In my defense, the turkey was a big hit and totally lived up to its billing. That said, for reasons of National Security and to preserve the domestic tranquility my wife subsequently made me burn the recipe so as to never again attempt this fiasco.
Several years later we sold that house and were in the process of cleaning it up for the new buyers. It was at that point that I happened to look up at the light fixture immediately above the island where this little mishap had occurred and noticed there was still some of the “soup” in the light diffuser. Oh, and the grass was finally starting to grow back beneath where I’d placed the pallet.
I haven’t fried a lot of turkeys since then but maybe this is the year.
Thanks for listening. Have a Happy Thanksgiving and I’ll see you back at Uncle Tom’s Corner.
See you back at Uncle Tom’s Corner.