Matt Moore, Southern Eats & Drinks Expert
Down here in the South, we have a saying: “If you can fry it, you should try it.”
Now, while I’m a grilling and smoking enthusiast, I must admit, I do like to get my fry on from time to time—especially when it comes to my grandma Sitty’s famous fried chicken.
However, there’s another occasion that gets me all greased up and ready to go: Thanksgiving. Of course, there’s an onslaught of dressing, mac n’ cheese, potatoes and gravy, and turnip greens, but I’m always hankering most for that big, crispy, deep-fried bird washed down with a Dixie Vodka cocktail.
Deep-fried turkeys were made most famous out of Cajun country, but now they’ve caught on throughout the rest of the states. All that said, one has to exercise a bit of care when it comes to doing this right (and safely).
First step? Fix a Dixie Sleigh batch cocktail to help get yourself in the spirit of the season (responsibly, of course)—it’s perfect for a party. Next, it’s time to start prepping the main course. I use a 30-quart propane turkey fryer, and ALWAYS make sure it’s on steady ground—safety first.
Now, to brine or not to brine? When it comes to frying, I say skip the brine—unless you want to create more work for yourself. You’ll already have plenty of work to do navigating awkward family conversations (but another Dixie Sleigh can help with that).
I like to inject marinade into the bird to infuse some savory and spicy essence throughout the meat. The best part is that this bird fries up rather quickly (less than an hour) per the recipe, which also means you can stand outside to keep an eye on it while it cooks and stay out of the heat in the kitchen—because, safety first.
Another bonus about the short cooking time, is you get to turn on the big game and fix another festive Dixie cocktail sooner. Now go get to work on that juicy bird. Go America!
Give Thanks Fried Turkey
- 2 cups unsalted butter, melted
- ½ cup dark amber ale
- 2 tbsp. kosher salt
- 1 tbsp. ground white pepper
- 1 tbsp. garlic powder
- 1 tbsp. onion powder
- 1 tbsp. hot sauce
- 1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
- 1 (12- to 13-lb.) whole fresh free-range turkey
- Marinade injector
- 1 large oven bag
- Peanut oil (about 3 to 4 gallons)
- Prepare Marinade: Stir all marinade ingredients together in a small bowl until well mixed.
- Prepare Turkey: Remove giblets and neck from turkey, and rinse turkey with cold water. Drain cavity well. Pat turkey dry. Fill injector with Marinade, and inject turkey all over, including legs, back, wings, thighs, and breasts. Place turkey in oven bag; twist end of bag, and close with tie. Chill 24 hours.
- Pour oil into a 30-qt. propane turkey fryer to a depth of two-thirds full. Heat oil to 350° over a medium-low flame according to manufacturer’s instructions (about 1 hour).
- Meanwhile, remove turkey from oven bag, and pat completely dry with paper towels. Let turkey stand at room temperature 30 minutes.
- Place turkey on fryer rod. Carefully lower turkey into hot oil with rod attachment.
- Fry turkey 42 minutes or until a meat thermometer inserted into thickest portion of thigh registers 165° (about 3½ minutes per pound), and keep oil temperature between 300° and 325°. Remove turkey from oil; drain.
- Place turkey on a wire rack, and cover loosely with aluminum foil. Let stand 20 minutes before slicing.
- 1 bottle Dixie Citrus Vodka
- 1/2 bottle cranberry juice cocktail
- 1/2 bottle apple Juice
- 1 liter club soda
Ice ring garnish:
- 1 lemon
- 1 orange
- 8 oz. whole, fresh cranberries
- 3 sprigs of rosemary
- 3 whole cinnamon sticks
Prepare the garnish one night before serving by slicing the orange and lemon into wheels. Lay the slices, cranberries, rosemary, and cinnamon sticks in the bottom of a Bundt pan, fill with water, and freeze overnight.* Combine all of the ingredients for the punch in a large punch bowl. Place the ice ring into the prepared punch and serve.
*Run warm water on the outside of the Bundt pan to remove the ice ring.