Infrared Turkey Fryer
Foodbuzz and CharBroil were kind enough to send us CharBroil's "The Big Easy" Oil-less Infrared Turkey Fryer in advance of Thanksgiving, along with a Flip Video HD camera to record our cooking experiences. Since we're in the middle of the Project Food Blog's video411 contest, I'd like to point out that this entry isn't our contest entry (that would be over here: http://www.foodbuzz.com/project_food_blog/challenges/7/view/1506 go vote!) but a completely different video post. The Flip camera was fun to use and stores a huge amount of video.
The Infrared Turkey Fryer is similar to one of those deep-fried turkey setups, but it uses infrared heat to cook the turkey instead of gallons of oil. It's cleaner and easier to use (and, I think, safer having on our deck than a vat of boiling oil) and the cooking time isn't that much greater. As CharBroil points out, if you include the warm-up time for the oil, and the cleaning time afterward, the CharBroil might actually beat out the traditional deep fryers.
The Infrared Fryer does use a propane tank, just like a grill. The flames heat up an inner liner that needs to be preseasoned like a cast-iron pan (there is some simple assembly out of the box, too -- basically screwing on the legs and handles and the regulator device). Once seasoned, the turkey goes in a basket, the basket goes in the inner chamber, and the fryer does the rest. Just like a deep-fryer, there's no lid, though they do include one if it's excessively windy or cold outside, or for some extra browning during the last few minutes.
We invited our friends Krissy and Dave (from The Sugar Pixie!) for some pre-Thanksgiving turkey last weekend, and I gave the fryer a test with a nine and a half pound turkey. We were all happy with the results, though I misjudged the timing a bit. I like to cook my turkeys a little underdone -- maybe 150 to 155 -- ignoring the dire warnings of the USDA who would rather everyone eat dry, stringy turkey. With resting and carryover heat, the temperature of the turkey will rise to 160 or so and the meat is much nicer. The Infrared Fryer guidelines said about 10 minutes a pound, and when I checked at 80 minutes, it was already at 165. Oops. But then, the turkey I picked was definitely smaller than average (and the fryer can cook a bird double that size). Nevertheless, it didn't taste overcooked. The breast meat was juicy and the skin was lightly golden -- next time I'll definitely toss on the lid for the last couple minutes to brown up the skin a little more.
I'm also curious about maybe trussing the turkey if it's smaller (they recommend cooking as-is), but I'm wondering if the heat might be too much for cotton string. Some metal pins might be worth an experiment.
We had a lot of fun making this video, especially after our cooking show video for Project Food Blog, and Christey got a little zany with the editing :) So, without any further comment, here's our video for CharBroil's "The Big Easy" Oil-less Infrared Turkey Fryer -- or, as I say, "The Amazing Oilless Turkey Fryer!"