AUBURN, Ala. — In recent years, more holiday chefs have stepped away from roasting the main course and are now frying the turkey. However, using a deep fryer can be extremely dangerous. Use this safety checklist when preparing and frying your turkey.
Allow enough time to thaw the turkey completely. It can take longer than you expect.
According to Janice Hall, a Food Safety and Quality regional agent with the Alabama Cooperative Extension System, for every five pounds of meat, you should allow 24 hours thawing time. Do not thaw the turkey or any meat at room temperature because bacteria can grow in numbers that can make you sick.
Smaller birds work best for frying. The turkey should be no larger than 12 pounds – or you can fry parts instead, such as breasts, wings or legs.
Make sure your cooking area is safe.
Sanitize hands and any surfaces the turkey will come into contact with, before, during and after the cooking process. Proper sanitization includes using soap, warm water and a single paper towel for drying. This action will help prevent cross contamination.
Select a safe location outdoors for deep fat frying a turkey. Always fry your turkey outside. Place the deep fryer on a flat surface far away from your house and wooden structures like outbuildings or decks. Do not overfill the fryer with oil.
Keep a fire extinguisher designed for grease fires ready to use in case of an emergency.
Read and follow all of the instructions provided by your deep frying manufacturer.
Select a cooking vessel large enough to completely submerge the turkey in oil without it spilling over. The oil should cover the turkey by one to two inches. Heat the cooking oil to 350°F. Very slowly and carefully lower the turkey into the hot oil. Monitor the temperature of the oil with a thermometer during cooking
Never leave the fryer unattended.
Test the turkey’s internal temperature.
Allow approximately three to five minutes of cook time per pound. Check to see if the turkey is done by removing the turkey from the oil, draining the oil from the cavity and using a food thermometer to determine the internal temperature of bird.
Do not test the temperature while the turkey is submerged in oil. Hall said the turkey is safely cooked when the turkey reaches a minimum internal temperature of 165°F in the innermost part of the thigh and wing and the thickest part of the breast. If the turkey has not reached 165°F in all three locations, then return it to fryer for additional cooking.
Store the cooked turkey in the refrigerator for no more than three to four days.
“In the freezer, it will keep for two to six months,” said Hall.
Do not eat any turkey, stuffing or gravy that has sat at room temperature for more than two hours.
“If these recommendations are not followed, the chances of someone getting sick increases because you cannot see, smell or taste bacteria on the food,” she said. “When in doubt, throw it out.”
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