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Archive for Wednesday, November 27, 2002

More Thanksgiving birds find themselves in hot oil these days

November 27, 2002

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Deep-fried turkey.

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. LouisianaâÂÂs 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.

âÂÂWe had a grand opening for the rental center in our store, and we rent turkey fryers,â said Cottin, owner of CottinâÂÂs Hardware & Rental, 1832 Mass. âÂÂSo we put on a little party, serving lunch and dinner all afternoon. We deep fried 20 turkeys.âÂÂ

The celebration - and the turkeys - were a big hit with the crowd.

âÂÂThe flavor is fantastic when you deep fry âÂÂem. ItâÂÂs extremely tender and not dry at all. ThereâÂÂs also marinades you can inject into the turkey before you fry it. We ended up renting the turkey fryers quite a bit.âÂÂ

CottinâÂÂs 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 âÂÂn juicy

Turkey fryers are a hot item among customers at Westlake Ace Hardware, 711 W. 23rd St.

âÂÂWeâÂÂve 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 itâÂÂs the most tender turkey theyâÂÂve ever had,â said Roy Latham, store manager.

âÂÂIt started off slow, and then really picked up. The last year and a half, sales have been very strong. I guess itâÂÂs just word of mouth.âÂÂ

ItâÂÂs much the same story at OrschelnâÂÂs Farm & Home Supply, 1541 W. 23rd St., where turkey fryers are flying out the door.

âÂÂWe do sell quite a few of them. I know weâÂÂve carried them for at least three years, probably longer than that,â said Richard Corum, manager.

âÂÂThe people IâÂÂve talked to say youâÂÂve never tasted better turkey. It just seals in all the juices.âÂÂ

Tim Jensen, OrschelnâÂÂs assistant manager, agreed.

âÂÂItâÂÂs been popular as long as IâÂÂve been here, and thatâÂÂs 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,â 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.

OschelnâÂÂs sells Morrone Co.âÂÂs Ultimate Turkey Fryer & Seafood Boiler for $34.88. It comes with a marinade needle and a dry packet of ready-to-mix marinade included.

OrschelnâÂÂs 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 CottinâÂÂs 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.

CottinâÂÂs sells marinade-injector kits with different flavors of marinade for $17.99.

âÂÂWeâÂÂve had lots of people rent the fryers for tailgating at ChiefâÂÂs games,â Cottin said.

Blackened bird

One local fan of deep-fried turkeys is Joy Ludwig, a pastry assistant at WheatfieldâÂÂs 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.

âÂÂIt was probably the juiciest turkey IâÂÂd ever had. You could really taste the different seasonings that were in the marinade,â said the aspiring chef.

The second time around, things got a bit dicey.

âÂÂWe 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,â Ludwig recalled.

âÂÂSo 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.âÂÂ

The incident wasnâÂÂt a complete disaster.

âÂÂThe bird was still just as juicy as the first time, even though we ended up blackening part of the dark meat,â she said. âÂÂWe all laughed about the situation, but everyone did say how well it turned out.âÂÂ

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