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Discussion Starter #1
With Thanksgiving day rapidly approaching, I'd like to offer forum members a few safety tips to prevent holiday horror shows. More specifically, I'm referring to the seemingly inevitable injuries that occur while deep-frying the turkey.

I always dread working on Thanksgiving day; not only because of what the hospital cafeteria does to turkey and stuffing (shudder), but because of the horrible burns that happen when people carelessly try to deep-fry a turkey. Now, I realize that most of the people deep-frying a turkey this season will do it safely (and produce an amazingly tasty bird), there are some things to consider before doing this for the first time - I call these the "ABCs (plus D) of safe deep-frying":

  1. Archimedes. Remember Archimedes, the Greek guy who hopped out of the tub and ran around shouting "Eureka!"? Easily half of the turkey-based medical disasters I see result from people forgetting the basic principle of displacement. If you have a 30 quart fryer and fill it with 20 quarts of oil and then try to put 12 quarts (by volume) of turkey into the fryer, what is going to happen? Answer: at least two quarts of boiling oil will come frothing out of your fryer.
  2. Boiling. To properly deep fry a turkey, the oil needs to be at least 325 deg F; water (at sea level pressure) boils at 212 deg F. The significance of this is that turkey is about 75% water (just like us), so when you put the bird in the hot oil, the water on the surface is going to immediately boil. Remember above that I said "at least" two quarts of oil were going to overflow? Well, the boiling water (steam) is going to whip that oil into a froth and increase its volume, increasing the amount of overflow.
  3. Combustibles. If (when?) the oil overflows, it will be close to the heat source - typically a propane burner. What usually happens at this point is that the hot oil ignites and causes a dramatic "pillar of fire" effect (wrong holiday). If your deep-fryer is sitting on a concrete patio or on bare earth, well away from structures or other combustible items, you won't have to worry about burning down the house (or ornamental plants). If, on the other hand, you opted to keep the deep-fryer close to the house, then you might get a chance to meet your local firefighters.
  4. Dressing. In this case, I'm not referring to the stuffing of the bird but what the cook is wearing. Whoever is going to work with the deep-fryer should wear long sleeves and long pants with closed-toed shoes. This will not only protect you against hot oil spatters, in the unlikely event that your deep-fryer goes up like the Hindenburg, the clothing will give you a few seconds of protection while you escape the fireball. This is a good reason to NOT wear that acrylic sweater your aunt knitted you, unless you relish the idea of having a burn surgeon peel it off of you, along with the full thickness of your skin. Cotton blends or wool are best, Nomex is my preference.

Have a happy and safe Thanksgiving and don't ruin it with a trip to see one of my colleagues!



Jim
 

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It also helps to defrost and dry the bird before immersing it in the hot oil.
 

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Thanks for today's alphabet. Happy Thanksgiving!
 

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Discussion Starter #6
I imagine that most people who cook their turkey this way (I do ours on the grill) and are on this forum know the potential hazards. This is for those people who are thinking about deep-frying for the first time.


Jim
 

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Ought to experiment on small game before trying a big bird. A single Cornish hen is a full meal for the average person, or use other small game birds. Maybe a duck breast, or even a rabbit. Cornish hens take a lot less oil and time, and are damn dee-lish deep fried. And are a lot less messy and dangerous for a first-timer.
 

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Well fortunately for me I live in the south and everything we eat is fried. I am 40 years young and my dad has been frying turkeys before it was even a fad. When I hear of these Thanksgiving disasters, I can't do nothing but shake my head in disappointment. The most important thing besides stuffing is the turkey, and that thing should but cooked to look like a piece of art... So please treat is as such. But in all truthfulness, I really like my dads smoked turkeys over the fried ones.
 

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Jim, if I may add two things:

1. Make sure that any overflow of burning oil is contained to a small area. I have seen the aftermath of a deep fat frying disaster that nearly caught the house on fire. A small fire contained is a small fire, a small fire that spreads is a potential disaster.

2. Keep a fire extinguisher nearby whenever dealing with something that could become flammable. Best to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Jim, if I may add two things:

1. Make sure that any overflow of burning oil is contained to a small area. I have seen the aftermath of a deep fat frying disaster that nearly caught the house on fire. A small fire contained is a small fire, a small fire that spreads is a potential disaster.

2. Keep a fire extinguisher nearby whenever dealing with something that could become flammable. Best to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it.

Good advice!


Jim
 

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I saw a neighbor a few years ago generate an impressive fireball in his back yard then the water in the bird made the grease boil over onto the flame. Must have been at least 20 feet high. Luckily, he wasn't hurt and it's sure a good thing he wasn't doing that in his garage.
 
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