We've received dozens and dozens of notes from readers about your Thanksgiving experiences: what you cooked, what you loved, what'd you make again. It's been the highlight of our past week, as we've read through your menus and notes.
While it's still somewhat visible in the rearview mirror, we wanted to give our own Thanksgiving report. Initially (and a little shamefully), we hadn't planned to cook anything, having gotten our fill of turkey at Fakesgiving. But as the holiday approached, and our friends Drew and Ralph decided to stay in town, we planned a small Thanksgiving. They hosted and Drew had one requirement: We would all fry a turkey.
We were totally on board. Though we're all four from the South, none of us had ever fried a turkey. Drew ordered a kit online; we picked up a turkey and waited for the big day.
To go with the turkey, we made a basic, rich gravy (sort of like this one but without the cream); Sweet Potatoes with Bourbon and Maple (a dish we had loved several years ago; yep, we still like it); a warm Brussels sprout salad; and for dessert a chocolate fudge pie.
Drew and Ralph made a frozen cranberry salad (Ralph's grandmother used to always serve them); a stuffing whose base was made of saltine crackers, and much better than the cracker dressing we made this year; and an Atlantic Beach Pie, which we absolutely loved (it's like a sweet-but-also-salty key lime pie).
Alas, the famed Goat Cheese Mashed Potatoes were not on the table, and everyone regretted it later.
But there was turkey and, like Drew had dreamed, it was fried. Here's how that went down.
We arrived early with the bird in hand. We had thawed it but not done much else to it. We read a lot of opinions about how to prepare the turkey before frying it. Brining seemed optional, given that the turkey cooks so fast and doesn't really have a chance to dry out.
The main concern appeared to be water. It seemed like the biggest caution with fried turkeys is water, especially if the bird isn't completely thawed. So we made sure the turkey was bone-dry. Then on Thursday, we took the bird to Drew and Ralph's house and seasoned it with a quick mix of salt, pepper, onion powder and dried sage.
Drew had ordered a turkey fryer & related acourtrement online. The kit came with everything we needed except a propane tank (we used one from the grill) and peanut oil (he purchased it in bulk from Costco, where you can buy the biggest vat of oil you have ever seen in your life; we're not sure how he carried it out of the store.)
After some tinkering, we got the the fryer assembled, the gas going, the oil warming up. Our plan: Get the oil to 250 degrees, add the bird, then let the temperature rise to 350 degrees but no warmer. The whole thing should be done in no more than 35 minutes (!).
It took us a bit to get the hang of keeping the gas going (whoops) but our oil eventually got to 250 degrees. Drew lowered the bird into the oil (you can see Zach in the photo above literally cowering the background; Clay is cowering the foreground, out of sight, but with a camera in hand).
Ultimately, it turned out to be a complete non-event. The oil bubbled away pleasantly, and the bird cooked without incident. Seriously, we've done more dangerous things on our stovetop.
After just about 40 minutes, the 12-pound turkey came out of the oil absolutely beautiful and golden brown. We let it rest on a rack, then carved into it.
The skin is the thing here: The turkey skin is so crisp and delicious. The turkey meat itself was very good. Unlike birds you may cook (or overcook) in the oven, nothing had dried out. It was juicy throughout, and tasted, well, like a perfectly cooked turkey.
So, fried turkey: Check. But we're not done. We already have a bunch of ideas for how to dress up and flavor up a fried turkey (and other things to fry while we have all that hot oil).
Thankfully, there will be other Fakesgivings and other Thanksgivings.
If you made a dish you loved this Thanksgiving but haven't yet shared it with us, we'd absolutely love to hear about it. Let us know in the comments!