FRANKLYWNOW - Cajun deep-fried turkey

Cajun deep-fried turkey

Recipe from Janet Trent of Sanford, N.C.

Marinades are seasoned liquids in which the turkey is soaked both to absorb flavor and to tenderize. Most marinades contain an acid such as vinegar, citrus juice, wine and herbs or spices. One of the easiest ways to marinate a turkey is by using a needle-like injector. Injectors can be purchased at kitchen supply stores and range in price from $10 to $15.

To marinate a turkey without an injector, simply use a fork to make random holes over the entire bird. Place the turkey in a large, plastic cooking bag or foodservice grade plastic bag, pour in the marinade, close the bag securely and let it marinate overnight. Turkey should always be marinated in the refrigerator. Before cooking, be sure to scrape off excess marinade and discard. Do NOT re-use marinade to baste the turkey.

Creole Marinade

  • 1/2 cup Kosher salt
  • 3 Tbsp. onion powder
  • 3 Tbsp. black pepper
  • 3 Tbsp. white pepper
  • 2 Tbsp. sweet basil
  • 2 Tsp. ground bay leaves
  • 1 Tbsp. cayenne pepper
  • 2 Tsp. file powder
  • 3 Tbsp. garlic powder
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp. paprika
  • 1 10-12 lb whole turkey
  • 4-5 gallons of peanut oil

1. Stir salt, herbs and peppers together. Mix until well blended. Use 1/2 to 2/3 cup for a 10-12 pound turkey. May be stored for several months in an airtight covered jar.

2. Remove the giblets and neck, rinse the turkey well with cold water and pat dry thoroughly with paper towels. Take care to dry both inside cavities.

3. Place in a large pan and rub the interior and exterior of the bird with seasoning mix. To allow for good oil circulation through the cavity, do not truss or tie legs together. Cut off the wing tips and plump little tail as they may get caught in the fryer basket. Cover pan and place in refrigerator overnight.

Cayenne Cornbread Stuffing

If you want a milder stuffing, just use a plain cornbread stuffing recipe.

  • 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups stone ground cornmeal
  • 2 tablespoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 4 tablespoons white sugar
  • 5 eggs, beaten
  • 6 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 3 cups buttermilk
  • 2 tablespoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons ground black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
  • 2 teaspoons onion powder
  • 4 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 2 teaspoons dried thyme
  • 6 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
  • 1 cup minced onion
  • 1 cup chopped green onions
  • 1 cup chopped parsley
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 1 cup butter
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 2 cups evaporated milk
  • 7 eggs, beaten  

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Butter a 13x9 inch pan.

2. Combine the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, 1 teaspoon salt, and sugar, and mix well.

3. Combine the 5 eggs, 6 tablespoons melted butter, and buttermilk. Mix until no dry ingredients remain. Pour into prepared pan.

4. Bake until top is browned and a toothpick comes out clean, about 55 minutes. Allow to cool completely.

5. In a small bowl combine the 2 tablespoons salt with the black pepper, cayenne pepper, onion powder, oregano, thyme, and basil. In another bowl combine the minced onions, green onions, parsley, and garlic.

6. Melt 1 cup butter in a large fry pan. Add the spices and cook for a few minutes. Add the vegetables and cook about 5 minutes. Do not allow the vegetables to brown. Add the chicken broth. Stir and cook 5 minutes more. Crumble the cornbread into the skillet and mix. Take the pan off the stove and add the evaporated milk and 7 eggs. Make sure to stir well when adding the eggs. Return to low heat and cook, stirring, for about 2 minutes. Place stuffing in a bowl and cover. Cool before stuffing turkey. 

To Deep Fry:

1. Place the OUTDOOR gas burner on a level dirt or grassy area. Never fry a turkey indoors, in a garage or in any structure attached to a building. Do not fry on wood decks, which could catch fire, or concrete, which could be stained by the oil. (Safety tip: have a fire extinguisher nearby for added safety.)

2. Add 4-5 gallons of peanut oil to a 7-10 gallon pot with a basket or rack. At the medium-high setting, heat the oil to 375 degrees F., (depending on the amount of oil, outside temperature and wind conditions, this should take about 20-40 minutes).

3. Meanwhile, place the turkey in a basket or on a rack, neck down.

4. When the deep-fry thermometer reaches 375 degrees F. slowly lower the turkey into the hot oil. The level of the oil will rise due to the frothing caused by the moisture from the turkey but will stabilize in about one minute. (Safety tips: to prevent burns from the splattering oil wear oven mitts/gloves, long sleeves, heavy shoes and even glasses. It is wise to have two people lowering and raising the turkey.)

5. Immediately check the oil temperature and increase the flame so the oil temperature is maintained at 350 degrees F. If the temperature drops to 340 degrees F. or below, oil will begin to seep into the turkey.

6. Fry about 3-4 minutes per pound, or about 35-42 minutes for a 10-12 pound turkey. Stay with the cooker at all times as the heat must be regulated.

7. When cooked to 170 degrees F. in the breast or 180 degrees F. in the thigh, carefully remove the turkey from the hot oil. Allow the turkey to drain for a few minutes. (Safety tip: allow the oil to cool completely before storing or disposing.)

8. Remove turkey from the rack and place on a serving platter. Allow to rest for 20 minutes before carving.

9. NOTE: Use only oils with high smoke points, such as peanut, canola or safflower oil. To determine the correct amount of oil, place the turkey in the pot before adding seasoning and add water until turkey is covered. Measure the amount of water and use a corresponding amount of oil. Dry the pot thoroughly of all water.

Recipe was developed by Janet Trent of Sanford, N.C. The recipe was a finalist in the 1999 North Carolina Turkey Cooking Contest, sponsored by the North Carolina Turkey Federation.

(Copyright 2001 The National Turkey Federation. All Rights Reserved)

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