Turkey is a mainstay in American cuisine and is sure to be found in different celebrations – but there is a risk in cooking it frozen. Since birds of this size have to be kept frozen to maintain their safety as food, many people commit the mistake of deep frying them before thawing.
There are so many instances of deep-fried turkey gone wrong, as well as deep-fried turkey explosion videos that aren’t just scary – they are downright dangerous to homes and people. In today’s blog, we are going to teach you how to thaw a frozen turkey, and how long to cook a turkey in general.
Deep Frying a Frozen Turkey?
We repeat – this is never a good idea, and here’s why: oil has a higher boiling point than the moisture or water in the bird you are deep frying. Every year, people put a frozen turkey in piping hot cooking oil, thinking that the amount of oil will be sufficient to dissipate the ice inside the turkey. What happens is a sure disaster.
Pressure builds up inside the turkey because of the ice’s transformation to vapor. The pressure becomes too much and leaves the flesh of the bird through liters of cooking oil surrounding the turkey. The boil-over can cause fires, burns, and almost every kind of harm that you can think of. Your kitchen is not a safe place if you happen to be deep-frying a turkey of any size.
What you thought was going to be a run the mill type of cooking will soon turn into a disaster. The result is called a boiling liquid expanding vapor explosion. The explosion is a mixture of pressure, oil, vapors, and bad cooking. There is no need to test it for yourself because homes have burned down because of it.
If you want to deep-fry your turkey, you must follow the correct guidelines for handling frozen turkey in general. First off, you need to thaw it completely. The safest way to thaw a turkey is inside the refrigerator. You may need to plan as it takes a while for the turkey to thaw inside the refrigerator, for apparent reasons.
If you can fry outside the house, do so. Deep-frying big birds inside the kitchen is almost always a bad idea. Also, the heat and vapors are going to be a big brother for the rest of the house. Deep-frying outside will be helpful as all that heat and smoke will naturally dissipate in the external environment.
When filling your pot will oil, use just enough oil to submerge the bird. Do not fill it up, as any excess oil won’t be helpful. Remember, there is going to be a surge of moisture that is going to react with the oil, so if you overfill the pot, there is a considerable chance that the oil is going to overflow.
We don’t want that to happen, so fill the pot with just enough oil. Use a cooking thermometer to monitor the temperature of the oil. The higher the temperature of the oil, the more likely it is to ignite. Limiting the temperature to a maximum of 350˚ Fahrenheit is your safest recourse. No matter how massive your bird is, this maximum temperature will be sufficient to cook it.
You can preheat the oil to facilitate the deep-frying, but the fire should be put out when you lower the bird for the first time.
Keep your eyes on the bird and oil while lowering it. If the oil appears to be too violent, pull out the turkey and wait for the oil to cool down a bit more before lowering the entire bird.
Once the bird is completely submerged, put the thermometer in and monitor your pot frequently as you turn up the temperature again. Remember – do not heat your oil to more than 350˚ Fahrenheit.
As an extra precaution, have your fire extinguisher at the ready and make sure that the fire extinguisher brand you have can handle fire from grease.
Turkey Cooking Guidelines
- If you are pressed for time and would like to cook your turkey partially frozen or frozen, you need to use an oven. It will take you longer to cook the turkey thoroughly, but at least you won’t be dealing with an oil explosion from moisture from a frozen turkey. The cooking time will also likely increase by 50%, so schedule the cooking accordingly.
- Roasting semi-frozen or frozen turkey requires a starting temperature of 350˚ Do not worry if the surface temperature of the bird rises too fast, as this will soon dissipate, as the inside of the bird will continue to cool the surface layer of meat.
- You can thaw frozen turkey using cold water, but do not remove it from its original packaging, and the water has to be refreshed every thirty minutes, so it doesn’t take long to thaw the bird.
- You may brush basic seasoning on your turkey as it cooks. Of course, you can always create a marinade and brush it on the turkey to give it more depth and flavor.
- The estimated cooking times for turkey are as follows: 4.5 hours for eight to twelve-pound turkeys, 5.75 hours for twelve to fourteen-pound turkeys, 6.25 hours for fourteen to eighteen-pound turkeys, 6.75 hours for eighteen to twenty-pound turkeys, and 7.5 hours for twenty to twenty-four-pound turkeys. As you can see, the cooking time increases by an average of half an hour to almost one hour as the weight of the bird increases. This is normal because much of the weight of the turkey is centered on the breast muscle, which takes the longest to cook correctly. Undercooking your turkey might mean that you will have a warm or hot outer layer and a cold center. This is where your meat thermometer will come to the rescue.