In an effort to produce the most succulent and mouth watering bird this Thanksgiving, you may be tempted to break out the deep fryer, but I hope you won’t. I could go on about things like romance — about how your house won’t smell like the holidays if a turkey doesn’t slowly desiccate in your kitchen for most of the day — but that’s not the real reason you should leave the propane tank in the garage this year. The real reason turkey-frying is for the birds is that the entire process is a major pain in the ass.
First, you risk burning your house down, though this may not happen as often as you think. I asked the Dallas Fire Department spokesperson Jason Evans how many houses have been torched on Thanksgiving by overzealous fry-enthusiasts and was told they didn’t keep track of such things. The department responded to 11 calls last Thanksgiving, though only six of them were advanced enough that smoke or flames were visible from the outside of the building. Despite being unable to attribute any of these incidents to a boiling vat of peanut oil, Evans did present me with this awesome safety video featuring William Shatner.
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Beside the risk of fires and burns, deep-frying a turkey is expensive. Depending on the size of your bird and your frying rig, you could need 3 to 4 gallons of peanut oil, which will run you at least $50. You’ll spend a lot more if you buy organic peanut oil to go with that free-range, antibiotic-free heritage turkey named Patricia that you bought at the farmers market.
And you don’t actually see yourself filtering burnt turkey particles and storing the oil in the fridge until your Christmas themed fry fest, do you? Eventually you'll have to get rid of all that oil. Don’t even think about pouring it down the drain, or Richard Statser of Dallas Water Utilities will be all over you. Statser says that oil can solidify in various mains and laterals in the sewage system. Backed up sewage ends up in the streets with some disturbing consequences. Instead, Statser urges fry enthusiasts to log onto ceasethegrease.org to find a local collection station. Disposal is free and the spent grease is reused to generate electricity at the Southside Wastewater Treatment Plant.
Or, you know, you could rinse out that roasting pan and make your grandmamma proud by cooking your bird the old fashioned way. You won't earn quite the same bragging rights, or have an excuse to stand in the driveway in your bathrobe, but your whole house will smell like the greatest holiday — not to mention you need pan drippings for gravy.