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Frying turkeys

The comedienne Rita Rudner once said that the reason men barbecue is because they’ll cook if danger is involved. She could just as easily have been talking about frying a turkey.

Deep-fried turkey has been hailed as the solution to a perennial problem of Thanksgiving: a dried-out roast turkey.

Deep-fried turkey is juicy and quick. Emeril Lagasse has endorsed it. Martha Stewart has endorsed it. It’s a Thanksgiving tradition with a kick. It’s also an incredible fire hazard.

The turkey fryers — which combine gallons of boiling oil, open propane gas fires and often unstable frames — can easily become flame throwers, fire safety experts say.

Because of the number of fires and burns, national fire safety groups essentially urge people not to fry turkeys. The city’s Fire Department has issued a warning about turkey fryers. And Underwriters Laboratories, a nonprofit group that gives safety certifications for everything from hair dryers to space heaters, has refused to put its UL safety mark on any turkey deep fryer.

“There are no UL listed turkey fryers because the turkey fryers on the market do not have the level of safety features we deem necessary,” said John Drengenberg, a spokesman for UL.

Most turkey fryers are essentially a large pot over sitting on a frame over an open propane flame, he explained. Most don’t have thermostat controls, and there are situations when the hot oil can spill over into the fire. “Then you’ve got something like a vertical flame thrower in your hands,” he said.

Boy, how can you resist something like that? It’s probably too late for this year, but if you want to try this yourself, here are plans for a do-it-yourself turkey frying derrick (PDF) that may help reduce the risk of flaming death. Bon appetit, and Happy Thanksgiving, everyone. Thanks to hangingfire for the links.

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One Comment

  1. tiggy says:

    Wait a minute Chuck!

    You forgot to mention that the proper way to spice up a turkey before frying requires using a shoot gun to shoot the spices into the bird. Another alternative method is to inject a home made Habenaro-Bourbon slurry in each breast prior to frying. And IF you miss you may end up frying your eyes! Ouch!