It sounds like something Elvis would serve as the centerpiece of his Thanksgiving spread at Graceland.
In fact, the tradition of deep-frying the holiday bird does have its roots in the South. LouisianaÃ¢ÂÂs Cajuns are typically credited with developing this technique.
But now the practice has taken flight, and the popularity of preparing deep-fried turkeys for Thanksgiving is boiling up all over the country - including Kansas.
Tom Cottin has some experience with this growing trend.
Ã¢ÂÂWe had a grand opening for the rental center in our store, and we rent turkey fryers,Ã¢ÂÂ said Cottin, owner of CottinÃ¢ÂÂs Hardware & Rental, 1832 Mass. Ã¢ÂÂSo we put on a little party, serving lunch and dinner all afternoon. We deep fried 20 turkeys.Ã¢ÂÂ
The celebration - and the turkeys - were a big hit with the crowd.
Ã¢ÂÂThe flavor is fantastic when you deep fry Ã¢ÂÂem. ItÃ¢ÂÂs extremely tender and not dry at all. ThereÃ¢ÂÂs also marinades you can inject into the turkey before you fry it. We ended up renting the turkey fryers quite a bit.Ã¢ÂÂ
CottinÃ¢ÂÂs not the only one in Lawrence who savors the taste of deep-fried turkey. The cooking method seems to have taken wing among many in town.
Moist Ã¢ÂÂn juicy
Turkey fryers are a hot item among customers at Westlake Ace Hardware, 711 W. 23rd St.
Ã¢ÂÂWeÃ¢ÂÂve carried them for a couple years now, and sales seem to get stronger every year. Customers say that somehow it just seals in the moistness of the meat, that itÃ¢ÂÂs the most tender turkey theyÃ¢ÂÂve ever had,Ã¢ÂÂ said Roy Latham, store manager.
Ã¢ÂÂIt started off slow, and then really picked up. The last year and a half, sales have been very strong. I guess itÃ¢ÂÂs just word of mouth.Ã¢ÂÂ
ItÃ¢ÂÂs much the same story at OrschelnÃ¢ÂÂs Farm & Home Supply, 1541 W. 23rd St., where turkey fryers are flying out the door.
Ã¢ÂÂWe do sell quite a few of them. I know weÃ¢ÂÂve carried them for at least three years, probably longer than that,Ã¢ÂÂ said Richard Corum, manager.
Ã¢ÂÂThe people IÃ¢ÂÂve talked to say youÃ¢ÂÂve never tasted better turkey. It just seals in all the juices.Ã¢ÂÂ
Tim Jensen, OrschelnÃ¢ÂÂs assistant manager, agreed.
Ã¢ÂÂItÃ¢ÂÂs been popular as long as IÃ¢ÂÂve been here, and thatÃ¢ÂÂs 10 years. They do well as Christmas gifts. We had a demonstration of a fryer, and we made turkey sandwiches (with the meat). They were delicious, real moist with good flavor,Ã¢ÂÂ he said.
The right equipment
Local hardware stores can supply all the gear you need to fry up a Thanksgiving bird of your own.
Westlake Ace Hardware - its other store is at 601 Kasold Drive - has a Brinkmann Turkey Fryer on sale for $39.99.
Westlake Ace also carries a Monster Marinade Injector for $5.99 and 2.5-gallon jugs of peanut oil, the preferred oil for frying turkeys, for $20.
OschelnÃ¢ÂÂs sells Morrone Co.Ã¢ÂÂs Ultimate Turkey Fryer & Seafood Boiler for $34.88. It comes with a marinade needle and a dry packet of ready-to-mix marinade included.
OrschelnÃ¢ÂÂs also offers 16-ounce jars of Creole Butter Injectable Marinade for $3.99 and 3-ounce packets of just-add-water marinade mix ($2.99 apiece) in several flavors: Cajun Style, mesquite, hickory, barbecue and herb/butter. The store has 4.5-gallon jugs of peanut oil for $27.97.
Or you can rent a turkey fryer from CottinÃ¢ÂÂs Hardware for $15 per day, as well as a propane tank, if you need it (a flat $20 fee for a 20-lb. tank). The store also will order turkey fryers for customers to buy.
CottinÃ¢ÂÂs sells marinade-injector kits with different flavors of marinade for $17.99.
Ã¢ÂÂWeÃ¢ÂÂve had lots of people rent the fryers for tailgating at ChiefÃ¢ÂÂs games,Ã¢ÂÂ Cottin said.
One local fan of deep-fried turkeys is Joy Ludwig, a pastry assistant at WheatfieldÃ¢ÂÂs Bakery, 904 Vt., and a culinary student at Johnson County Community College.
Ludwig and her boyfriend bought a turkey fryer at Westlake Ace and have used it several times to fry up turkeys at holiday gatherings.
The first time the couple tried the fryer, the result was a success.
Ã¢ÂÂIt was probably the juiciest turkey IÃ¢ÂÂd ever had. You could really taste the different seasonings that were in the marinade,Ã¢ÂÂ said the aspiring chef.
The second time around, things got a bit dicey.
Ã¢ÂÂWe had the fryer outside on the lawn, which is a big no-no if anyone ever tries it. The grass was dry, and the turkey ended up being a lot larger than we estimated,Ã¢ÂÂ Ludwig recalled.
Ã¢ÂÂSo the boiling oil spilled over, and there was a big grease fire. It was burning up the grass. We were running from inside the house with pitchers of water to put it out.Ã¢ÂÂ
The incident wasnÃ¢ÂÂt a complete disaster.
Ã¢ÂÂThe bird was still just as juicy as the first time, even though we ended up blackening part of the dark meat,Ã¢ÂÂ she said. Ã¢ÂÂWe all laughed about the situation, but everyone did say how well it turned out.Ã¢ÂÂ