Turkey Frying 2014: Lessons Learned

I know a “Lessons Learned” post sounds like what you write when something goes bad, but that's not what happened here. The whole process was not the most difficult I've ever faced. That distinction would belong to the year I discovered that someone had stolen my burner.

Everything worked out this year! That said:

Four days is too long brining.

Folks seem to like it quite salty, but it was a bit much for me. Makes for excellent cold cuts though, I bet. It was also a little more difficult keeping the briners in the thermal safe zone. It wasn't “hard” per se, but it needed slightly more attention and additional ice.

The safety measures actually seem to do the job.

I actually pay attention a bit. For some reason the displacement test for oil level had at about a gallon too much, so for the first time the safety measures were necessary. Using the pipe & chain device, I had enough situational awareness to notice that we were getting close to the top of the pot, and using the stock pot with a spigot made cutting the burner and detanking a literally painless operation.

No More Big Birds

This is the last time I do a 20lbs+ turkey. I had a 20 pounder1) and a 15 pounder2). The smaller turkey went in for 38 minutes, and came out perfect, easy as you please. The larger one, spent all told about an hour in the oil, as I had missed some uncooked spots with the probe thermometer the first time around.

So, all told, I could have fried three 15 pound turkeys in about the same time as it took me to cook what I had. Larger birds also seem to leave a much larger amount of post-fry sediment in the pot than their proportions would suggest.

Stupid Crap, Part One: Temperature

Check the batteries on the probe thermometer, and make sure it has enough juice to work in the cool conditions of Tacoma in November. The damn thing became nearly useless towards the end of the cooking session. Unsusprisingly, infrared thermometers are fun to play with, but don't really work as well as a fry thermometer for the task of oil temperature.

Stupid Crap, Part Two: Turkey Mounting Equipment

Stick with my home-built stuff. The turkey… mount? conveyance? You know what, it's innaccurate, but I'm going to call it a spit. Anyway, this year I decided not to use my old spit3). Instead, I dug up the parts I never use from the “turkey frying kit” I got my high-BTU burner from, and slightly extended it for my larger brew kettle.

In a word, it sucked. It kept leaning over in the pot, and it failed to keep the turkey off the bottom of the pot when the is turkey neck down, which I tend to think works the best. So parts of the larger turkey burned. Nothing fatal, and we corrected it on the second turkey. But a device purpose built for the task I was using it for couldn't hold a candle to my kitbashed design off of a BBQ grill. I'll be building a new one of those and returning to it the future.

Bird A, as I thought of it
Bird B
it had spent the year sitting in dirt and still had chucks of fry stuff from last year on it