A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from December 03, 2006
Texas Deep-Fried Turkey

Deep-fried turkey? Texas Monthly published a recipe for Texas Deep-Fried Turkey in 1998. Deep fried turkey originated in the South, but it’s not known where. Louisiana also claims it.



Texas Monthly
Featured in the November 1998 issue of Texas Monthly
Texas Deep-Fried Turkey
“I used to hate turkey because it’s always so dry,” says Grady Spears. But four years ago, the thirty-year-old chef had a change of heart: “That year we had Thanksgiving with True Redd, this artist who has a house on Caddo Lake, in East Texas. Everybody brought a dish, and True deep-fried a turkey. It was so moist that I just loved it.”

Equipment
1 turkey cooker with a propane burner (also called a catfish cooker or crawfish boiler)
1 36- to 40-quart stockpot and basket
1 large turkey injector with needle
1 deep-fryer thermometer or candy thermometer
elbow-length oven mitts

Cinnamon-Chile Rub
1/2 cup cinnamon
1/2 cup pasilla or other red chile powder
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup kosher salt

Combine all ingredients and mix well.

Turkey
4 to 6 gallons peanut oil (depending on size of stockpot and turkey)
3 1/2 cups chicken stock (two 14.5-ounce cans)
1/2 cup Tabasco sauce
1 turkey, 12 to 15 pounds (inside removed)
2 cups cinnamon-chile rub (recipe above)

Place the peanut oil in the stockpot on the turkey cooker and preheat to 350 degrees. Meanwhile, in a bowl combine the chicken stock and Tabasco. Place the turkey in a shallow pan or bowl. Fill the syringe with stock mixture, inject all parts of the turkey (legs, breast, thighs), and then thoroughly coat the outside of the turkey with the cinnamon-chile rub. When the oil reaches 350 degrees, place the turkey in the basket and, wearing oven mitts, carefully lower it into the stockpot. Cook for 3‡ minutes per pound (for example, a 12-pound turkey will be done in 42 minutes). Remove the turkey from the oil and drain well. Place it on your favorite platter and carve away.

Wet Noodle Posse
Texas Deep-Fried Turkey
(Most of you are thinking “Huh?” but trust me. Fried turkey is to die for and faster to cook than roasted or smoked turkey.)

1 (10- to 12-pound) turkey
2 teaspoons salt, or to taste
2 teaspoons pepper, or to taste
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
4-5 gallons peanut oil

Rinse and dry turkey after removing innards from both ends. Generously season inside of cavity with spices. Heat oil to 350-375 degrees in an outdoor deep fryer. When oil is at the right temperature, use a strong twine or rope sling to lower the turkey into the fryer. (Wear goggles; this puppy may splatter.) Cook about five minutes per pound or until meat thermometer reaches 180 degrees.

For wild turkey, cook only four minutes per pound.

D’Agostino’s Supermarkets
Texas Deep-Fried Turkey

Our neighbors in Louisiana get the credit for Cajun-fried turkey, but Texans have embraced this cooking method as if it had come from deep in the heart. All the ingredients are there to make a Texan love it: The cooking is done outdoors, it requires special equipment, the turkey cooks fast, and it is fried.

Actually, anything as big as a turkey doesn’t exactly fry when immersed in hot oil; it boils. But the end result is a moist, tender bird with a golden skin. Done correctly, it is not greasy.

Like the smoked turkey, there are plenty of places to buy a Cajun-fried turkey in most major cities. Catfish restaurants particularly like to fry whole turkeys as a holiday sideline. But if you want to try it yourself, here’s how.
You’ll need an outdoor cooker, usually gas powered, with a cooking pot large enough to hold 4 or 5 gallons of peanut oil and a turkey. Catalogs for outdoor equipment as well as hardware and camping stores often carry turkey-frying kits, priced about $50. They are worth the investment because they include lifters to make removing the turkey easier and safer.

There are also injector kits with syringes to shoot marinade into the turkey meat before frying. Otherwise, ample seasoning with salt and pepper, perhaps some cayenne, inside the turkey will do nicely.

This is a particularly good technique for wild turkey, because it keeps the lean meat very moist. As always with wild game, avoid overcooking. And don’t let the scrawny appearance of the wild bird next to that plump domestic darling bother you. It doesn’t look like a textbook turkey, but it tastes great. Our neighbors in Louisiana get the credit for Cajun-fried turkey, but Texans have embraced this cooking method as if it had come from deep in the heart. All the ingredients are there to make a Texan love it: The cooking is done outdoors, it requires special equipment, the turkey cooks fast, and it is fried.

Actually, anything as big as a turkey doesn’t exactly fry when immersed in hot oil; it boils. But the end result is a moist, tender bird with a golden skin. Done correctly, it is not greasy.

Like the smoked turkey, there are plenty of places to buy a Cajun-fried turkey in most major cities. Catfish restaurants particularly like to fry whole turkeys as a holiday sideline. But if you want to try it yourself, here’s how.
You’ll need an outdoor cooker, usually gas powered, with a cooking pot large enough to hold 4 or 5 gallons of peanut oil and a turkey. Catalogs for outdoor equipment as well as hardware and camping stores often carry turkey-frying kits, priced about $50. They are worth the investment because they include lifters to make removing the turkey easier and safer.

There are also injector kits with syringes to shoot marinade into the turkey meat before frying. Otherwise, ample seasoning with salt and pepper, perhaps some cayenne, inside the turkey will do nicely.

This is a particularly good technique for wild turkey, because it keeps the lean meat very moist. As always with wild game, avoid overcooking. And don’t let the scrawny appearance of the wild bird next to that plump domestic darling bother you. It doesn’t look like a textbook turkey, but it tastes great.

A Touch of Hands Cookbook
THUMANN TEXAS FRIED TURKEY
Steve T., Kingwood, TX

1 turkey, any size
3 gal. peanut oil
1 large bottle Italian salad dressing
1 heaping tbsp. mustard
1 12 oz. beer
1 tbsp. cayenne pepper

Mix salad dressing, mustard, beer and pepper. Inject into all parts of the turkey using a large syringe with #14 or larger needle (can be obtained at a feed store). Refrigerate overnight. Heat peanut oil in a 40 quart stock pot until you can throw an unlit match in and it ignites. Remove match and put the turkey in it. Cook the turkey 5 minutes per pound or until turkey floats. Small new potatoes makes a good side dish and can be cooked in the same oil, after the turkey. You can use less cayenne pepper on one side for the kids by mixing 2 batches of marinating liquid and injecting specific areas with mild and hot sauce. 

Public Radio: Marketplace
Tuesday, November 21, 2000
Texas Fried Turkey
Americans are honing their cooking skill for the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday, but some Texans have found a new way to prepare their family dinners. Marketplace host David Brancaccio speaks with his Texan brother about deep-fried turkey.

The Recipe:
1 raw turkey
½ cup Tabasco Sauce
3 ½ cups chicken stock
6 gallons peanut oil

Mix Tabasco with chicken stock. Apply to turkey.
Follow manufacturer’s directions for deep frying turkey.

National Turkey Federation
A Deep Fried Delicacy: The How-To on Deep Frying Turkey

Deep-fried turkey, a concept that started in the south, is gradually rising in popularity nationwide. It’s a perfect twist for barbecues, block parties and holiday feasts. In fact, since deep frying turkey requires special equipment and lots of oil, families and groups of neighbors often get together to share the costs and the feast. To get you started, we have several deep-fried turkey recipes for you.

Google Books
The Book of Thanksgiving
by Jessica Faust and Jacky Sach
New York: Citadel Press
2002
Pg. 48:
Deep-Fried Turkey
Deep-frying turkey is a Southern tradition that is slowly making its way north. While many people will cringe at the thought of deep-frying an entire turkey, those who’ve experienced it know that once you’ve try it, you’ll never go back. Not only does deep-frying take less than an hour to cook the entire bird, but it produces wonderfully juicy meat and a light crispy skin.

To make deep-fried turkey you will need a 40- to 60-quart pot with basket, burner and propane gas tank, a candy thermometer to measure oil temperature, and a meat thermometer to determine when the turkey is done. In addition, you will need a contraption to raise and lower the turkey in and out of the pot. 

Google Groups: rec.food.cooking
From:  Jim Basara
Date:  Mon, Nov 9 1992 1:55 pm

As the subject line states, I’m looking for some unique ways of cooking turkey for Thanksgiving.  I remember (before I started cooking) that I once had turkey prepared by deboning it, stuffing it, and sewing it back
together.  I’ve also had deep fried turkey, which was great, but I don’t have the facilities to do that.

Google Groups: rec.food.cooking
From:  LNF
Date:  Wed, Feb 17 1993 7:25 am

About 2 1/2 years ago I saw (and purchased) a 50 quart pot at a store near the Smokey Mtns.  The pot came with a basket which led me to believe that it was used for boiling crabs.  The saleman said that he had already sold
three of these pans that day because they were used in New Orleans for deep frying turkeys in peanut oil.  He said the birds were pre-injected with hot sauce and put in the oil.  Don’t remember how long they take to cook.  I have the name and number of the store if anyone is interested.

5 October 1974, Lethbridge (Alberta, Canada) Herald, pg. 34, col. 7:
As part of lectures at the schools, Mrs. Kristenson shows a film on the poultry indsutry and often provides students with a taste of deep-fried turkey.

20 August 1989, Chicago Daily Herald, section 5, pg. 6:
Paul Prudhomme, chef and owner of K-Paul’s Louisiana Kitchen in New Orleans, La: (...) “Around here, guests often bring dishes to the reception. Some of our favorites? Deep fried turkey filled with spices, blackened fish and gumbo. Guests like to try some spicy food. It’s exciting.”

26 November 1987, Syracuse (NY) , “Crispy, Fried and a Deep Secret” by Stephanie Gibbs, pg. C1:
Mazzeo, owner of the Pioneer Restaurant just outside Auburn on Route 20, is apparently the only man on Earth who knows how to make Original Crispy Fried Turkey.
(...)
Original Crispy Fried Turkey got its start back in 1928, when Bill Welch—the first of the Pioneer’s seven owners—rustled up a secret recipe for the batter.
(...)
In 1945, at the peak of World War II and food rationing, the Pioneer’s fourth owner, Buster Wiggins, was apparently having a tough time finding chickens to serve to his patrons. So he bought a bunch of turkeys, sliced and parboiled the meat, dipped it into the secret batter and then into the deep fryer. Original Crispy Fried Turkey was born. And the Pioneer was in its heyday.

18 November 1992, Chicago Daily Herald, “Fried Turkey” by Olivia Wu, section 6, pg. 1:
Five years ago, Bill Babcock, a free-lance civil engineer, was working a project in Southern Illinois with a Cajun superintendent, who, one day, invited the crew to have Cajun fried turkey. (This gentleman from Baton Rouge, La., hauled his turkey cooker around in the back of his truck.)

19 November 2000, New York Times, “Quirky Turkey: Go ahead, rebel—and fry it” by Jonathan Reynolds, pg. SM16:
Deep-Fried Turkey
(ADAPTED FROM THE PRUDHOMME FAMILY COOKBOOK)

Posted by Barry Popik
Texas (Lone Star State Dictionary) • (0) Comments • Sunday, December 03, 2006 • Permalink