Friday, November 27, 2009

The PERFECT FRIED TURKEY with Honey Brined/Cajun Honey Injected Marinade

LOVE my neighborhood... But more about that in a bit...

Hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving. Believe it or not, it was very very quiet around here, cooking wise. We hosted a small neighborhood group. 3 couples with no children close, no parents close; 6 of us that decided a "pot luck" Thanksgiving would be more fun than a Swanson's Hungry Man and football (especially those two football games). My only contribution to the day... The turkey!

My friends... I present The black turkey...

Do not judge this book by it's cover... Here's why...

A honey brine. the night before the cook, I assembled my brining liquid...

3 gallons of water 1 1/2 cups kosher salt 5 cups vegetable broth
And the villain of the black turkey, 1 1/2 cups honey
or, another way to think of this,
the HERO of the black turkey, 1 1/2 cups honey
5 cups ice

Heat 1 gallon water and the salt. Stir til all the salt is dissolved. Add the honey, again, stir til dissolved. Dump into a clean cooler, mix together everything else and add the bird. This also works well in one of those BIG freezer bags. Don't add the ice, but put the bagged bird into a cooler and than add ice and some water to surround the bagged bird and keep it from getting to room temps.

Let sit for 12 to 24 hours.

I was sharing space with my neighbors bird, who was also frying his bird.

Making a brine is simple, and is a wonderful way to add moisture to your finished product. My sainted mother would use that hideous pop-up built in thermometer as her way of telling when the turkey is done. IN FACT, those thermometers are set to go off at about 180 degrees, guaranteeing your bird will be dry and tough prior to serving. Ideal internal temperature is only 165 degrees. Every degree above that only dries out your bird. But I digress...

Brining adds moisture to your bird, and allows the bird to cook more evenly. Smarter people than I have done the science research. Click HERE to go to The Kitchen Project's page on brining. He goes through the science of what a brine does, recipes, history and techniques.

Adding honey to the brine will coat the bird, and when dunked in the oil, will burn (that's why the turkey is black). But that's OK, it's just the skin. And once fried, is very easy to remove.

But wait, there's more...

Injecting a bird is yet another way to add moisture and flavors to your bird. Think of all the advantages to marinating meat. Now imagine what would happen if you could have that marinade throughout the meat, and not just on the outer 1/2 inch (at most). That is what injectable marinade does. I prefer to make my own...

1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup butter

1 can chicken broth (or stock if you have it)
1/4 cup Cajun Spice (I make my own Cajun rub, but a commercial brand works well also).

Heat everything up, until well nixed, and it is a liquid...

Here is a reprint of a bit I did about how to inject...

And next, I started on the marinade. Injector needles are available at any quality foodie cooking supply store, or cheaper on AMAZON.COM. I always saved my old ones that I used from Cajun Injector... BTW, if you don't want to make your own, Cajun Injector makes and sells a jar of injector marinade along with a free injector. Especially this time of year you should be able to find these at a well stocked store. I know Wal-Mart carried these last year. The technique reminds me of when I was a heroin addict and would load a syringe with a spoonful of cooked dope... Wait, that's not right, it reminds me of watching TV of heroin addicts loading a syringe. Load it up and inject away... Put a third of a syringe full in one spot, pull out a bit, put another third in, pull out a bit more and the final third... Just keep injecting in as many spots as you can till all the goop is inside the bird. Adds moisture and flavoring (remember all that Cajun spice) INSIDE the bird. MUCH better than basting.

I used those handy dandy cooking bands I have talked about before to truss the bird a bit. Keep the legs inside, so they don't touch the sides of the kettle. No harm if they do, but less of a chance to get them caught on anything as you are lowering or raising the bird...

And here is where we get just a bit dangerous... Heat the oil to 350 degrees. I am lucky to live in this neighborhood... My good neighbor Andy has all the tools. The base, the propane tank, the tiles, and a big back yard that backs into a creek. I swapped my brining and injecting his bird for him frying my bird. A VERY fair trade for me!

I am not going to discuss safety or technique here. If you are doing this for the first time, ask someone experienced to help. OR, lacking that, study over all the safety recommendations...

Here's why...

3 minutes per pound, plus add 5 minutes, and it is done!

and black... but that's OK, it was beautiful this way... Just remove the charred skin...

And this is what was one of the breasts underneath. Everything you have heard is true... The most moist and the most flavorful turkey I have ever eaten. The honey in the indictable marinade really made this shine... The Cajun spices gave just a small amount of kick, and the contrast of the seemingly burnt bird, transformed into the amazing final product really made for a spectacular presentation!

I contributed turkey, we also enjoyed smoked ribs, gravy, green bean casserole, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes and PUMPKIN PIE! I am truly thankful for my friends and neighbors that made this day special...

Hope you had a wonderful day too!!!


  1. It sounds like you had a wonderful day. Your photos today are really helpful in walking us through the steps necessary for deep-frying a turkey. I'm still too much of a sissy to try.
    Maybe next year.

  2. I have never had a deep fried turkey but it's on my list of things to try in this lifetime after seeing this! Good job Dave!

  3. One of my friends gave me a turkey fryer was a stand burner and an aluminum pot with lid.. I had to buy a propane tank, propane, 30 some bucks worth of peanut oil, a turkey, and pump for reusing the oil.. My "free gift " cost me $70!!!! I've used it once, and the bird was good- but not worth the mess!

  4. OMG it's black! But I'm sure it taste amazing with the brining and injections.

  5. Looks great, cher! And you're right, there is nothing like a Cajun Fried Turkey! I think you should consider moving here!

  6. The meat underneath looks fabulous. Maybe I'd actually like this turkey. One of the reasons I don't like turkey is because it tends be dry.

  7. ...but, but, but...I like the skin! I am sure it was tasty underneath ...but, but.....

  8. Sounds like a wonderful day with great food and friends. Thanks for the info about turkey fryers-I really don't want one now! But, I have eaten fried turkey and I can atest to the fact that it was the moistest turkey I have EVER eaten! Just delicious!

  9. What happened to my honey brown skin? Sniff... I'm glad you had a good Turkey Day. I can't bring myself to fry a turkey. I've had it twice and don't care for the texture. It's like eating a chunk of deli meat.

    I always enjoy your blog. Thanks for writing.

  10. Deep frying is my second most favorite way to make turkey, I hope that skin tasted as good as it looks!

  11. Our turkeys could be twins!

    We deep fried our turkey once and only once - it takes so much time to watch over it, and the year we did it, it was like 20 degrees and windy!

    Glad you had a great day though!

  12. I still have never had a fried turkey....but I totally want to try one! Looks amazing...although my daughter would have a coniption...the skin is her favorite part! :D Sounds like a good day.

  13. I've never had a fried turkey. I'd be afraid to do this without expert supervision. We had someone in the Denver area burn his house down, two houses on each side of him and he came running out of his burning house himself on fire. The fryer was outside, but close enough that when it caught fire, it spread to the house. He went running in to get his wife out and the rest is history. big time yikes.

    anyway... I couldn't believe my eyes when I saw that black turkey! I've heard they are sooooooo good. Sounds like you had a great meal.

  14. Our oldest son smoked a turkey breast and big turkey for Thanksgiving. He used the Cajun Injector with the jalepeno was good! What he does not know is that he is getting a turkey fryer for Christmas...any recommendations or helpful hints??

  15. Glad you had a nice Thanksgiving. You deserved a little break!

    I have the turkey deep fryer but only used it once for frying. I was so nervous about the hot oil, the oil was way too expensive, and although it was very good I didn't think it was that much different than my oven birds to spring for the extra $30 cost of the oil.

    Every year I say we're going to do it again for Christmas and buy a bunch of turkeys to deep fry for Christmas gifts for friends and neighbors (and make it worth buying the oil), but so far it hasn't happened. Great ideas just seem to get lost over the busy holidays!

    Can't let that great turkey fryer go to waste though - they are great for seafood boils too! :-)

  16. Love that ingredient combination for the brine! Great touch adding the safety video.

  17. Last year I had deep fried turkey for the first time. Even without brine or glaze it was the most suculent bird ever. This years oven roasted made me long for the bird of 2008.

    btw-thanks for the support.