I know I am a bit late with this, and Hanukkah is half over, but I got sidelined with a killer cold for the past week. I was back on my feet just in time for Latke Ball on Thursday and Chinese food with friends tonight. A couple of week ago, some friends and I decided to kick off Hanukkah early and deep fried a turkey. Combined with niner’s football, latkes and beer, it made for a pretty awesome Sunday. While the tradition of deep frying turkey got started in the American South, and most people associate it with Thanksgiving, this culinary trend was ripe for a Hebraic takeover. Hanukkah is considered a minor Jewish holiday but there are three universal practices associated with it: Lighting the menorah, playing dreidel, and eating fried foods. Why settle for simple potatoes when you can fry an entire bird? Now when this idea was first proposed there was a lot of concern that this was a spectacularly dangerous thing to be doing on a small San Francisco balcony. There are a lot of people who have done incredibly stupid things combining a turkey and a deep-fryer and have started some crazy fires. You can even entertain yourself for hours on YouTube watching people do this very thing. I have been lucky enough to have watched the process a few time at my family’s Thanksgiving and got some great pointers from Derek B. Plus a few simple rules can greatly reduce the risk.
- This is not a one person job. You need at least two people or a mechanical pulley system (thanks Alton) to do this safely. Luckily, men really enjoy doing this and I had Ben, Shaun and Sivan on hand to assemble the fryer and do the heavy lifting.
- Have a fire extinguisher handy. (and as Ben helpful pointed out, have it accessible in a place that would not require you to go through any potential fires to retrieve it)
- Totally defrost your turkey. A still frozen turkey = massively splattering oil.
- Don’t over flow the oil. Most of the fires start when the oil overflows the pot and catches the flame which subsequently ignites the rest of the pot of oil. You can do a displacement test with water and your turkey before you unwrap it to determine the amount of oil you need. When you lower the turkey in after you have heated the oil – turn off the flame.
- Last but not least – Get drunk AFTER the turkey comes out.
With the appropriate safety precautions, you will have a fantastic bird and may never roast a turkey again. My crowd of about 15 people cleaned an 18lb turkey down to the bone. The only drawback to this is a lack of leftovers.