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Fried Turkey, Without the Explosion

Fried Turkey, Without the Explosion

Richard Mullins | Tampa Tribune, Fla.

TAMPA – Each Thanksgiving season, a few unlucky Americans manage to burn down their houses trying to deep fry a turkey.

Proving there’s almost no cooking hassle the convenience food industry can’t solve, one major grocery chain in Florida will start selling pre-fried, frozen whole turkeys for this holiday season – Sweetbay.

Just toss one in the oven for an hour and they’re cooked, Sweetbay officials say.

This, frankly, shocks officials at some rival grocery chains, who say they just won’t sell such a thing as pre-fried/frozen gobblers.

Undeterred, Sweetbay officials sing the praises of fried turkey. “One of the biggest advantages is the cost,” said Sweetbay spokeswoman Nicole LeBeau. By her estimate, a from-scratch frying kit can cost $120 for the large boiling pot, three to five gallons of peanut oil, a propane kit – not to mention the turkey and a fire extinguisher on hand for mishaps. Plus disposing of the used oil later.

One notable point: Turkeys frozen solid and dropped into a hot fryer can explode.

By contrast, LeBeau said Sweetbay’s fried turkeys will come pre-marinated, flavor-injected, spice-rubbed, wrapped in foil and frozen for $2.99 per pound. The vendor is based in New Port Richey.

Compared to roast turkeys, devotees of fried turkey say the oil-boiled versions take less time to cook and come out far juicier and more flavorful. Another method (sometimes combined with frying) involves soaking a turkey for hours beforehand in a salt brine solution to make the meat more tender than straight roasting.

Turkey giant Butterball this week took a stand on the roasting vs. fry issue and gave a hearty thumbs-up to frying. Nov. 4, Butterball sent a text message to its cooking subscriber base saying “Want 2try something new 4Thnxgiving? Deep fry or grill ur turkey! It opens up oven space & delivers a tender & juicy turkey.”