I worked a long time to come up with what I consider a fairly safe, reliable way to deep fry a turkey. The device is simple but there are parts and connections involved and if you decide to build one for yourself, it's up to you to follow the instructions and of course, maintain the device in order to keep everyone in your zip code safe. However you decide to fry your bird, keep in mind that you're dealing with a large object that's full of water and a large pot of hyper-hot accelerant. So I'm not going to tell you to be careful, I'm going to tell you to be very, very careful. And always keep animals and kids (especially kids) away from the fry site. And, if you happen to be enjoying alcohol, remember that this does qualify as “operating heavy machinery.” Always adhere to the turkey fryer's instructions and recommendations. Make sure the gas tank is set as far from the burner as possible. And no matter what, don't leave it unattended. Fire. Hot oil. You get the point. And, whatever you do, make sure the bird is completely thawed and drained of any liquid that could be hiding in the cavity. (You took out the neck and giblets, right?)
Before you begin: Set up Alton Brown's turkey derrick (see video) or the fry rig of your choice with a UL-listed propane fryer rig set on level ground, away from any structures. Gather ingredients and equipment and measure out ingredients.
Quart liquid measure
Cotton butcher's twine
5-gallon upright drink cooler (if brining)
Turkey deep-fry rig (see Cook's Note)
1 (15- to 20-foot) piece of sash cord
1 (2-inch) pulley
1 (3-inch) quick link
1 (2-inch) swivel pulley
2 cable ties (rated for 50 to 75 pounds)
1 (6-inch) window shade cleat
2 (1-by-1/4-inch) bolts
2 (1/4inch) nuts
LP gas tank
Control regulator hose
30-quart fry pot
Fire extinguisher for grease fires
Digital remote probe thermometer
Lighter or matches
Half sheet pan
If brining, place the hot water, kosher salt and brown sugar into a 5-gallon upright drink cooler and stir until the salt and sugar dissolve completely. Add the ice and stir until the mixture is cool. Gently lower the turkey into the container. If necessary, weigh down the bird to ensure that it is fully immersed in the brine. Cover and set in a cool place for 8 to 10 hours.
Remove the turkey from the brine, rinse and pat dry. Place bird onto fry lifter and truss legs and wings, if desired, with cotton butcher's twine. Leave at room temperature for at 30 minutes prior to cooking.
Set up Alton Brown's turkey derrick (see video) or the fry rig of your choice with a UL-listed propane fryer rig set on level ground, away from any structures. Lower the bird into a 30-quart pot and add enough oil to barely cover. (With the bird and oil in the pot, the oil should still be about 5 inches to the top edge of the pot.) Hoist the bird out of the oil and allow to drain thoroughly.
Next, following the manufacturer's instructions, ignite the burner, setting the flame for medium-high heat. Use a deep-fry or other appropriate thermometer to check the oil temperature and bring to 250 degrees F.
Slowly lower the bird into the oil and increase the heat to bring the temperature to 350 degrees F. (Depending on your burner, this should take about 15 minutes.) Once the oil hits 350, lower the heat to maintain 350 degrees F. Fry at this temperature for 30 minutes.
After 30 minutes, slowly hoist the bird out, carefully tying off the rope to secure. Cover the pot then carefully check the temperature of the turkey using a probe thermometer in the deepest part of the breast. If the temperature is lower than 151 degrees F, lower the turkey into the oil and monitor until 151 degrees F is reached.
Then hoist the bird up, tie off the line, turn off the heat and cover the pot with a sheet pan. Rest the bird in this position for 5 minutes before lowering the bird so that the weight rests on the sheet pan. This will make it easier to remove the lifter from the line. (I always tie off the line in this position just in case.) Carefully transfer the bird to a carving board.
Rest the bird for a minimum of 15 more minutes prior to carving. The bird should reach a final internal temperature of 161 degrees F by this time. Carve as desired.
See video for derrick construction notes. AND BE CAREFUL!
Frying a turkey includes risks such as fire. Follow fryer manufacturer's instructions for deep-frying a turkey.