By Phil K.A couple of weeks ago I finally tried something that I have been wanting to do for Years – Deep Fry a whole Chicken (or Turkey). One of my friends I had many years ago have deep fried a whole turkey during the holidays, and I remember one thing – it was amazingly delicious. I knew they were from the Deep South, and they definitely knew what they were doing, but even without the long history of deep frying Turkey or Chicken, I knew I had to try it at some point.
I didn’t do it for many years because of a few reasons. I didn’t own a turkey fryer, and I didn’t have tons of oil. As anyone would imagine, it does take a significant amount of Oil in order to fry a whole bird, and the thought of managing the sticky, icky oil before and especially after cooking the bird was daunting.
During the black friday sale Amazon.com had a really awesome sale on Butterball Turkey Fryer, and since I run a blog now and Foodblogging is essential part of it(and marketing on various social media), so I decided to buy it.
I still had to worry about oil, I had a good solution. Get a big-O-jug at the local Sam’s Club. They had different types, and althought i knew penut oil was highly recommended, it was pretty expensive even there so I decided to compromise and get the CLear Frying Oil instead. I was relieved to see that, it was Soybean based. Sounds reasonablly Healthy, if I can call it that right? XD LOL . It was a pretty big one, still wasn’t really cheap but I thought it would be a good investment that would last me a while.
I am a single man and I cook formyself so there was really no point of getting a big Turkey or even a big oversized chicken that you normally see during Holidays, since I was visiting my sisters place in Chicago during the Holidays and I won’t have to cook for them. So I decided to cook a whole tender Young Chicken / Hen that I bought also from Sam’s Club. it was one of those Cage-free kind without additional hormones etc. and the brand that treated the animal with reasonable care. (But of course they are a bit more expensive so you readers on a tight budget, just purchase what you can afford.) My mom used young hen/chicken a lot when I was growing up, partly because there are some amazing popular Korean chicken recipes that calls for young hen and they come out tender and very nice. And it was perfect size for me, to eat it 2-3 times and not have much waste afterwards. So I bought the 2-pack and brought it home, since they were both vacuum sealed I just simply threw one of them in my new Haier Deep Freezer and the other one I used for cooking within a couple of days while it was fresh.
I have Lemon Thyme and Rosemary in my backyard garden so I used them. I put it in a metal tea-container that one uses to seep in hot water, I used it to jam in some of the Rosemary and Thyme in there and I stuck inside the cavity. This is free-style cooking, and I learn as I do, and learn as I go. I just didn’t want the herbs to be going everywhere, especially since I had a goal of keeping the oil reasonablly clean. In hindsight, it probably wasn’t necessary, because the herbs stayed intact for the most part afterwards. Anyway it is definitely recommended you use fresh herbs, obviously most of you won’t have this in your garden, so just buy fresh ones from the Suspermarket or use dried ones. I used both. I also put a whole onion inside the cavity for extra flavoring (highly recommended) I forgot to, but next time I will add whole garlic cloves if I can fit them in there. I didn’t have the proper twine rope to tie everything together or whatnot at the moment so I used a guerrila kitchen tactics – used a stapler to close the bulging cavity after shoving all that stuff inside LOL I will purchase a special kitchen one if they have any later, or figure out this part better next time, but for the timebeing it totally worked, but I don’t really recommend it because although its sanitary (hot oil kills everything) you will have to deal with the staples afterwards, so just be careful and mindful, or better yet, find another way to close the cavity.
Outside the chicken I freestyled again (as I often do) and tried a different herbs and spices. I believe i used Garlic powder, himalayan pink salt and black pepper (freshly ground) Dried Thyme (pretty liberal amount) and I used a delightful 4-pepper mix from Tone’s, and since I am a spicy food lover, I added a pinch of cayenne as well as a pinch of paprika, and Evergreen seasoning. I like evergreen season-all but if you don’t have it, any season-all would do. if not skip it and just use Kosher salt or regular salt or Pink Himalayan salt like I did. I can’t tell you exactly how much to use, because I normally don’t worry about it. just sprinkle it to see it covered and learn from trial and error, and many people have different tolerance for spices. I am on the one end of the spectrum when it comes to spices, and many are not. But even I stopped overseasoning so much, because i do realize that if you go over a certain amount, it start to become too much.
One Crucial step though before these two major steps (stuffing it with herbs and then seasoning outside) is this: Brining the chicken. You must brine the chicken, or at least inject the meat with flavoring (which I haven’t tried yet) if you want a lot of flavor. I can tell you this with confidence now because the second time I cooked it like a week later tasted a lot less delicious, and that difference was immediate in my mouth. I knew I forgot something the second time, and that was brining. Huge difference, so please brine your chicken for several hours at least in the fridge, preferably overnight before deep frying it. In the brine I put liberal amount of seasalt (you can use any salt) I would say something like at least a half of a cup to a cup for a 4.5 pound young chicken like I used, or just a grab a handful with your fist and put it in the water LOL it doesn’t matter too much exactly how much, but do put a significant amount. also in the water I put thyme (dried but you can use fresh but i recommend using dry ones as well, give them a chance to soak and release all those concentrated flavors) you can replace that with rosemary, or i usually use both. I also put some spices including whole All Spice berries (if not you can use whole peppercorn or ground peppercorn) and different spicy stuff like garlic / garlic powder and just a pinch of ginger powder. you can be creative with it, but just don’t forget the salt.
So after it was brined, then sprinkled outside, I heat up the butterball turkey fryer and put ab out 2 quarts of oil in it. i heat up the indoor fryer to about 325 first then put the chicken in. The most important thing to remember is to LOWER THE BASKET SLOWLY. do it very slowly and carefully, remember you are dealing with Hot burning oil, and lots of it, and treat it like you treat a gun almost, because they are dangerous. I recommend doing it out on your porch, although the fryer was designed for indoors. I have a covered porch and I did it out there for extra protection and safety, and I recommend the same.
Get a meat thermameter and check it every once in a while. but the rule of thum seem to be about 3.5 minutes to 4 minutes per pound of chicken or turkey. use the thermometer properly and i cooked it until it was about 178F I believe, the deep part of the thigh or breast and it was still very moist and awesome. make sure to cook it above something like 165F but depending on the temperature of oil and how brown the skin is etc, adjust when you pull it out.
If you cooked it same or similar to the instructions I laid out above, you should smell some incredible aromas as it cooks and as it comes out of the fryer. You may think you have died and gone to heaven because the smell is just absolutely amazing. It tastes pretty darn good too, if you seasoned it and most importantly, brined it first. There are a lot of different brining techniques, some people seem to use buttermilk to soak it overnight in, etc. I wanna try that sometime, but since my recipe was so darn delicious i may never need buttermilk. but I wanna try it. I will use buttermilk when I am making standard fried chicken (which i haven’t yet) instead of cooking it whole without batter as I have done and as described on this blog.
I just remembered I did use a light batter. I used Zatarain’s (of New Orleans / Louisiana) seasoned batter, I coated the chicken lightly at the end with it and that’s it. And yes it adds extra yumminess and it’s still not a thick yucky batter with grease saturated all over it LOL it’s manageable and you may or may not want to do that step. worked for me. If you do use Zatarain’s Fish-fry batter though, they are seasoned so go a little lighter on the salt on the chicken before you batter it.
If you do this way also without batter, it’s relatively healthy because most of the oil is off when you eat it, so in this case and in the context of it being oily, its not so much different from just panfrying it. it’s not THE healthiest option, but at the end of the day, the grease is to minimum and also the soybean based oil was definitely higher quality than all of the fast food restaurants and most of standard restaurants too, I could taste it, and wasn’t too greasy.
I hope this inspired some of you to try deep frying a chicken or turkey. It is fun, and awesome for the Holidays or a special meal, or just on a random day that you are hungry like I have done for myself.
That’s it for today’s Food Blog Thurday, have a great day and the rest of the week everyone!
until next time,