No matter what sides grace your Thanksgiving table, the starring dish is certain — but it’s how you cook it that matters.
Turkey will be eaten in millions of American homes on Thanksgiving, and good portion of home cooks will be deep-frying their birds for the feast. But before you fry that turkey, the National Fire Protection Association extends a word of caution. According to their latest “Home Fire Involving Cooking Equipment” report, nearly four times as many home cooking fires reportedly happen on Thanksgiving than any other day of the year. Further, the second-leading day for home cooking fires is the day before Thanksgiving.
That being said, there’s no need to sacrifice deep-frying your beloved bird. With a little preparation and patience, your turkey — and your home — will come out just fine. So before hunkering down with a pan of your favorite seasonings and some oil, read on below for five must-know tricks for safe deep-frying on Turkey Day.
1. Prepare a safe space.
First and foremost, scout out a safe area at least ten feet away from your home. Keep the fryer out of garages, decks, fences, as well as a safe distance away from trees, State Farm advises. Ensure that there will be no bystanders, children or pets nearby once you begin. In addition, having a working fire extinguisher on hand is wise, too.
When you’re ready to thaw the turkey, the U.S. Department of Agriculture recommends getting an early start: For every 4-5 lbs., let it sit out for at least 24 hours. Frozen or wet turkeys can cause hot oil to splatter, potentially causing burns.
2. Be careful around the oil.
Once the oil gets hot, it’s easy for things to get messy. Don safety glasses, oven mitts and an apron to handle the fryer well before the oil starts to bubble. Make sure your fryer is on a flat, level space to carefully gauge the amount of oil needed. Don’t use too much oil, either — Minnesota fire investigator Jamie Novak warns that pouring too much oil in could cause the burner to ignite it if it spills out.
3. Get the temperature just right.
When cooking turkey parts, the oil temperature should be at 325 degrees F, according to Nicole Johnson, Butterball Turkey Talk Line expert. She adds that it may take 4 to 5 minutes per pound to reach the recommended temperatures, as dark meat should get up to an internal temperature of about 180 degrees F, and white meat to an internal temperature of about 170 degrees F, she says.
4. Monitor the turkey.
Using temperature controls to monitor the blaze is must, according to LDR Construction. Also, and take your time while frying the turkey. Slowly raise and lower the turkey into the fryer to minimize spills, and give your full attention to the process. It’s wise to avoid alcohol, too, and it goes without saying that you should never leave the bird unattended.
5. Clean up cautiously.
Congratulations, you’ve deep-fried a turkey. Be sure to remove the bird from the fryer slowly, turn off the heat, and clean up your frying space just as meticulously as you set it up. After all, you’ve come too far to suffer a mistake now. And when it comes time to gather around the table, be sure to revel in every compliment your savory dish receives.