Thursday, January 5, 2012

Not quite so Fat and Happy Time!

Christmas and New Years have come and gone, but I have a bit to share about a new tradition my Mom sprung on me this Christmas Dinner, an oil-less turkey fryer.  This was nearly pure blasphemy when she bought it without consulting the head turkey fryer in the family, and who's primary job is cooking the bird, but since it seems it may be healthier, less expensive, and less of a hassle, we'd give it a shot.  Heck, at least I don't have to worry about my Dad "properly" disposing of the oil after I leave.

Just a quick rundown of what's involved:
Char-Broil's "The Big Easy" Infrared Turkey Fryer - $90-130

Compared to:
Masterbuilt Propane Turkey Fryer - $50-80

Peanut oil purchase - $30-40

Total Oil Frying price - $80-120

Now onto prepping the new process.

Seasoning the bird is really the same.  Mix up all the spices you want, I go with Seasoned Salt, Garlic Powder, Onion Powder, Chili Powder, Cayenne Pepper, and a plethora of others available.

The Big Easy cooker comes with a basket as pictured.  I just gently placed the turkey in, legs down, as opposed the legs up with an oil fryer.  Depending on where you look, people say either way, but a blog I found figured out the hard way they you make a bulls-eye on the breast with the bottom of the basket if you put the turkey in upside-down.

Now, I've had the cooker on for about 10 minutes and it is already piping hot!  I can see a jet stream in the shadow of the cooker so I guess its ready.  Dropping the bird in the cooker is not satisfying at all compared to dropping into a fryer.  No serious sizzle or roar of the oil, just a few snaps as some drippings hit the bottom of the cooker.

This is what I live for when doing this:

Timing is not as important as making sure you are reading the temperature of the bird.  Using oil, its pretty much been dead on 4 minutes per pound on the turkey, but for the infrared oil-less cooker, I read various ranges, and many people not wanting to even give an estimate.  The biggest point was to make sure the breast got to the appropriate temperature, 180 degrees.  It did take around 130 minutes to cook the 16 pound bird we had prepared.  Other people noted at most 10 minutes per pound max, so 9-10 minutes seems a fair estimate.

There was a sense of loss as I didn't have to hover over the roiling pot of oil for an hour, just leaving the Char Broil alone for nearly two hours didn't reward with the same sense of accomplishment.  The one thing to do was to put the mesh top to the Char Broil on for the last 15-20 minutes to let it brown.  Supposedly it reflects back more of the infra-red to give that last bit of sizzle to it.  The instructions warn you not to leave it on or the turkey will come out black!

And there it is!  The skin still tasted good, still no comparison to the oil fryer skin, and the meat was very juicy and delicious.  The end product was a suitable replacement for the reduction of effort involved.  Just the process, and "fun" of using the full blown fryer was missing.

An added benefit too is that you can capture the juices from the bird while it cooks, enabling you to make real gravy!

Guess the new tradition is here to stay.

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