Food & Dining

Don't be a turkey: Use caution when deep-frying the bird

Your meal could quickly develop into this if not paying attention.
Your meal could quickly develop into this if not paying attention.

Deep-frying your Thanksgiving or Christmas turkey in an outdoor cooker or turkey fryer can create a tantalizing meal. Before cooking these moist, tasty and crispy delights, be aware that the use of outdoor gas appliances pose a risk of fire or injury if not used carefully and following the manufacturer's instructions.

Following are some safety tips but first, read and carefully follow the manufacturer's instructions and be aware of all warnings.

  • When purchasing a turkey fryer, make sure it carries the mark of an accredited certification agency saying it meets applicable national standards.

  • To avoid overheating of the liquid propane cylinder, ensure it is located as far away as practical (depending on the length of hose provided) from the fryer burner. Situate the fuel tank and fryer so any wind will blow the heat from the fryer away from the tank.

  • Turkey fryers should only be used outdoors and at least 10 feet from structures -- including garages, carports and overhangs -- and vehicles and combustible materials.

  • Always use a turkey fryer on a level, stable, non-combustible surface and never on a wooden deck or any structure that can catch fire. Be sure to use only the pot that came with the outdoor cooker and that it is centered directly over the burner.

  • Never cook a partially or fully frozen turkey. A frozen turkey can cause the oil to splatter and boil over, posing a potential risk of fire and burn injuries. Prior to cooking, turkeys should be thawed in a refrigerator at least 24 hours for every five pounds of bird.

  • Dry the turkey before putting it in the oil. Pay special attention to drying the cavity of the bird, as it has the greatest potential for water or ice to accumulate. Avoid marinades that may react with the hot fryer oil.

  • When filling the pot with oil, be sure to follow the manufacturer's instructions and never over-fill the turkey fryer. This can cause the oil to overflow posing a potential risk of ignition from the burner flame.

  • Never heat the oil above 400 degrees and always use the thermometer supplied with the fryer to measure the oil temperature. Check oil temperature frequently. If the oil begins to smoke, turn gas to off.

  • Use well-insulated oven mitts when touching a pot lid, handles or when adding or removing food to prevent the risk of burn injuries.

  • Slowly lower the turkey into hot oil with caution, being careful to avoid any overflow.

  • Never leave a turkey fryer unattended.

  • Young children and pets should be kept away from the area where turkey fryers are being used, even after use.

  • If any portion of the turkey fryer catches fire, do not attempt to extinguish or fight the fire. Immediately remove all people from the vicinity and contact the fire department or 911. Do not attempt to extinguish fire with water.

  • Never move the pot or drain the oil from the pot until the oil has cooled to a temperature of 115 degrees or less.