Thanksgiving turkey is a tradition in the United States, but the conventional way of roasting the turkey in an oven is turning to deep frying the bird. A deep-fried turkey, according to aficionados, is juicier and has more flavor than one that has been oven roasted.
Deep frying turkeys, however, comes with its risk. The National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA) says that more than 1,000 fires occur each year caused by deep fryers. The agency reports that the majority of these fires happened in November and December during the holiday season causing about $15 million in damages and serious injuries.
Hot, spattering oil from deep fryers has caused burns, some life threatening. Because of the inherent dangers, the Underwriters Laboratories and the NFPA are advising people not to use them. If you decide to deep fry your turkey, there are several safety tips to take that will help protect both you and your property.
1. Use a fryer that has a solid base and at least four legs. This provides better stability and helps prevent the cooker from toppling over. Read and follow the fryer’s directions to the letter. Never leave the fryer unattended while it’s cooking. It is best to use a fryer that has temperature controls.
2. The fryer should never be used inside the home or on an outside deck. The fryer should be placed on solid, level ground at least 10 feet from any structure and not under an overhang or awning. The propane tank should be at least two feet away from the burner.
3. The turkey should be completely thawed and dry before placing into the fryer. Water or ice in or on the turkey will quickly turn into steam and cause a flare-up or an explosion when it contacts the hot oil. Also, do not use the cooker while it is raining or snowing since either could also create a flare-up or explosion upon hitting the heated oil.
4. Do not overfill the cooker with oil. Allow for displacement when the turkey is placed into the fryer. Overflowing oil can ignite when it comes in contact with the burner. It is best to use a smaller size turkey for frying, one that is no more than 12 pounds. Do not stuff the turkey or use water-based marinades.
5. Before cooking, put the turkey in the empty fryer. Pour water to determine how much oil will be needed to just cover the turkey. Remove the turkey and water and then dry out the fryer before using. Add the the oil to about one or two inches below the water line. Remember, oil will expand when it heats.
6. Turn the burner off before placing the turkey in the fryer. Once the turkey is in place, turn the burner back on. You should wear goggles or safety glasses and oven mitts for protection. Keep a fire extinguisher nearby.
7. Monitor the oil temperature. Oil can ignite when it is heated over its smoke point. If the oil starts smoking, turn off the burner to avoid a flare-up that could cause serious burns or start a fire.
8. Use a non-oil fryer. These cookers use infrared heat instead of oil. They cook just as fast and are much safer. With these oil-less fryers, you can add rubs or marinades on the turkey.
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