Oil and water don't mix: it's an old saying, but it's never more true than when you're talking about a pot of hot cooking oil and the moisture condensed on the surface of a frozen turkey. it's pretty incredible the amount of fire that simple combination can create.
Cooking oil is flammable, but it doesn't catch fire in a deep fryer because it never approaches the approximately 800°F required. Even if you drop a match in the fryer, the heat is conducted away from the flame and dissipates into the oil, and the fire goes out.
But oil dispersed into fine droplets is another beast entirely. individual droplets heat up very quickly, and the burning of one drop creates enough heat to ignite the one next to it, and so on, making a cloud of oil droplets extremely flammable. Where might a cloud of oil droplets come from? From that big, frozen bird.
The recommended oil temperature for a deep fryer is 350°, well above the boiling point of water. When you drop food in, you immediately see bubbles; that is the water in the food boiling off. Put too much moisture in by lowering in a frozen turkey, and the vaporization of the water throws oil droplets into the air. a few of the droplets hit the burner under the pot and catch on fire, beginning a chain reaction that ignites a large cloud of droplets. The result is the smell of a county fair—and a towering inferno that can ignite everything around it.
So even if it's tempting to buy one of the many cheap turkey deep-fryers this time of year, you can add death by incineration to the other main reason not to: death by clogged arteries. (Note: grilled chicken can also sometimes catch fire.)
WARNING! This demonstration will burn your house down--seriously. If you want to fry a turkey, read the fryer's instructions, and do not try to re-create this effect at home under any circumstances.
Let's see that one more time in slow motion.
I have deep-fryed turkeys for several years without incident, but about 3 years ago I came up with a simple change that makes it much safer. I first heat the peanut oil to 375 degrees so it will sear the juices in. Then just before lowering the thoughly defrosted turkey into the oil, I turn off the gas so there is no flame to ignite the oil! Within a few minutes, the moisture in the bird dissapates so the oil isn't splashing excessively. By this time, the oil is down to 300-325 degrees, so I restart the burner with my propane torch, which works very well even in a brisk wind, and bring the oil back up to 350. This only adds a couple minutes to the cook time and is much safer as there is no ignition source when a flare up would be most likely. I always do a final check with a meat thermometer to in sure the bird is done. Enjoy!
It would suck if your burner would not relite lol
@ Delkomatic, as long as the fuel is flowing a torch will restart it
personally, I prefer smoked turkeys, but deep fried are the next best thing.
why learn from your own mistakes, when you could learn from the mistakes of others?
“The most incomprehensible thing about the universe is that it is comprehensible” -Albert Ein
since this is a science blog, There is no such thing as 'sear the juices in'. What you do is burning the outside making the surface porous and letting out all the 'juices'. To obtain realy juicy meat you need to boil it. Slow!
But we all learn to like the crisp outside of meat. That's why we incinerate our animals. And as a bonus the contrast makes us beleive the inside is juicy.
that sounds like total bull ive had boiled chicken and its the most disgusting thing you can do to fowl short of rubbing it on your toilet.
The meat becomes flavorlessm and the skin like snot.
Now i dont know ive never tried but perhaps steaming might work with a quick cripsing in a fry pan for the skin ?
Deep fried turkey is pretty cool, but the best way to cook it is in the oven for 20 mins a pound at 325 degrees Celsius
@LookItMeAgain, you are right, searing meat, isn't searing in the juices as the food network would like you to believe (enter conspiracy of making us eat more carcinogens) J/k
The best way to cook meat is to bring it up to temperature slowly...low and slow.
@Aldrons Last Hope, Thanks. Carcinogens! That was the word I was looking for. I came up with <i>"... the surface <b>carciogenetic</b>, porous, and letting out ...."</i>
Somehow that didn't feel right...
Reading the october 24th blog about the quail-hollow-farm-dinner one would really think there could be a bad-food-conspiracy.
@quseio2 You are right about the fact that baked or fried food tastes best but the issue was 'What keeps the juices in'. Bad food (nowadays) meant usually HiEnergy food and this kept us alive during an IceAge or other food deprived periods <i>-and therefore imprinting the urge to eat grease in our genes-<i>.
Here's a thought. How about follow the directions and deep fry your turkey safely?
@Aldrons Last Hope, do you run a crematorium? If you really cook your bird at that temp I feel your methods might have run afoul.
I've seen a lot of dumb things happen in the past. The dumbest one of them all is dunking a frozen block of turkey. This happened to a house a few blocks from me when I was a child, apparently the person didn't understand oil displacement as he filled it all the way to the top, flash fires and unfortunately had the burner in the patio. When He dunked it, it must of instantly set him and the patio ablaze which quickly got to the house. 3 people were killed I think, and in he end, the house was so badly damaged contractors had to level it. Moral of the story here I learned at the age of 9 is in physics, displacement in one hell of a golden rule we are governed by, and that chemistry is one mean bitch, who proved biology that without knowledge and common sense, you'll quickly find yourself out of the gene pool :\
" Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind." Albert Einstein
As in the first comment, use Peanut Oil, it is not flammable, in fact it will put out the propane burner if you try this again. We use only peanut oil in our inside deep fryer as well, much safer.
Has anyone here ever had a good deep fried turkey, other than TomGray? It is by far more juicy and flavorful than any baked turkey. The advantage in deep fried is that it cooks the turkey so fast that it doesn't have as much time to lose the juices.
However, low and slow as in smoked turkey, you get something really juicy and falling off the bone tender. Either low and slow or deep fried, if you overdo it you end up with really tough turkey jerky.
That's using your gray matter, TomGray! Turn off the burner! How simple! And peanut oil is wonderful stuff. It does well at high temperatures. You can even solder in it!
If turkey fryers had broader stands and had thermostats, that would probably prevent many of the conflagrations on Thanksgiving.
Folks, peanut oil IS FLAMMABLE. The only oil I know of that is assuredly not is CCl4 or carbon tetrachloride which is NOT food safe. I am a chemistry, physics and math teacher at a private school and I can assure you that peanut oil will do exactly the same thing shown in this video. It does have a higher smoke point making it especially well suited to deep frying.
I like the recommendation of turning off a flame burner during the initial immersion, reigniting it after most of the atomization has died down.
Many of you are surprisingly quite ignorant of food science. Fried meat tastes much better due to Maiilard reactions. Get Harold McGee's book "On Food And Cooking" ISBN 0684800012 and read up on various topics about myoglobin denaturation and meat doneness, frying, turkey, etc..
Hey, I have one of those videos!
Be with you family and friends, nice.
Cook a turkey nicely too and well. Wonderful!
Cooking to be dramaticly hurt yourself and others is just dumb!
I hope you did not go for the dramatic. I hope you focus most on your family and friends! Take care.
Remember the turkey is just a dead bird, nothing more.
FAMILY and FRIEND ARE EVERYTHING! ENJOY!
Apparently only one other person has noticed that 325C (617F) is beyond normal cooking temp for the average kitchen oven. Is Aldron's Last Hope using a kiln?
I've never had a deep fried turkey yet, but this year my mother brined hers (soaked it in salt-and-sugar water), then smoked it for 8 hours stuffed with apples and onions and herbs. Lord that was a juicy turkey!
don't boil it, cover food with cold water or beer and let it come to a slow boil. then take out and grill or bake, or dry it then fry it! REMEMBER TO DRY IT AND FRY IT!!
we deep fry our turkey, well 4 of them, every thanksgiving. we inject 2 quarts of cajun spices into each one. skin forms a shell and locks all the moisture inside. there will be about 50 people showing up...i guess they like it. btw we also turn off the flame when we set the turkey in the oil.
That is wrong! At 200° Peanut oil WILL BURN!
Look it up, Check the facts!
There is no need to subject yourself to this punishment. Checkout Camp Chef's cast iron Ultimate Turkey Roaster, which produces a much better overall turkey "cooking" result without the danger of frying yourself, your children, your pets, or anything else other than the turkey. You do not waste oil or the leg and wing meat (no need to stop and relight the burner). The cleanup is quicker, easier, and safer. You can use the same injectable marinades and rubs, and the same burner to cook the bird in the same amount of per-pound time. I haven't fried a turkey in 5-years, but have treated neighbors, family, and friends to what they thought was the best tasting and tenderest turkies they've ever tasted. By the way, I've never had a problem with frying turkeys the "conventional way", but the roaster eliminates so much of the danger and cleanup that I can actually enjoy beers with the guests.
OK lets get scientific about this
When you place a turkey into vat full of heated oil. It over flows as seen.
Dribbles quickly into the flame,
You will have a rapid expansion of flame.
Nothing spectacular about this.
Hi to all. Deep fried, smoked, boiled, baked, oven cooked turkey....
Find here the most spectacular recipe I received from a friend many years ago:
HOW TO COOK A THANKSGIVING TURKEY.........
Step 1: Go buy a turkey
Step 2: Take a drink of whiskey (scotch)
Step 3: Put turkey in the oven
Step 4: Take another 2 drinks of whiskey
Step 5: Set the degree at 375 ovens
Step 6: Take 3 more whiskeys of drink
Step 7: Turn oven the on
Step 8: Take 4 whisks of drinky
Step 9: Turk the bastey
Step 10: Whiskey another bottle of get
Step 11: Stick a turkey in the thermometer
Step 12: Glass yourself a pour of whiskey
Step 13: Bake the whiskey for 4 hours
Step 14: Take the oven out of the turkey
Step 15: Floor the turkey up off of the pick
Step 16: Turk the carvey
Step 17: Get yourself another scottle of botch
Step 18: Tet the sable and pour yourself a glass of turkey
Step 19: Bless the saying, pass and eat out
Have a great Thanksgiving!!
Hate to rain on your parade guys but the turkey, water, oil "and you" are currently and forever and ever on fire!
Thanks to lyle for the soldering tip. It might not be too good for soldering but I could see how you might use the technique for unsoldering things. To cook a turkey: simply nuke it in the microwave until it's done then either put it in the woodstove for a few minutes or hit it with the blowtorch until crispy.
An additional consideration is to be sure all kids are away from the thing, and there is no rough housing nearby. Adults should be sober, and nobody not necessary to the cooking process should be anywhere nearby.
The thought of a tipover spilling hot oil on somebody gives me a chill. I also never had a fondue for that reason.
Who thought it was acceptable to conduct this experiment under a tree limb?