The Big Fry

by Mary Tutwiler

Two more days to turkey day. For those of you getting ready to fry a turkey for the first time, here's a video of Cajun chef Pat Mould frying a turkey on the Today Show a few years ago. Just like viewing A Wonderful Life at Christmas, I go back and watch Pat every year, it's my refresher course before I attempt the Big Fry.

MouldĀ  injects a raw turkey with Cajun flavored marinade. The breast visibly plumps up. "We call this Cajun collagen," he says. "That's how we get the seasoning and the moisture on the inside."

Frying a turkey has all the ingredients to thrust it into the realm of extreme cooking. First of all there's the big slippery 20 pound turkey. Then there's the pot of boiling oil with a fire burning under it. Mould says the biggest potential for disaster is not monitoring the temperature. Oil spontaneously combusts at 600 degrees. While peanut oil has a very high flash point, any oil, unregulated over 600 degrees, will instantaneously catch on fire. Another problem is moisture. Turkey is wet. Drop a half-frozen turkey into an overfilled pot of too-hot oil and anyone can create a turkey bomb.

Mould says he's never had a disaster, "I'm a professional turkey fryer." He lowers his seasoned turkey into a pot of bubbling oil, then clips a thermometer to the side of the pot. Regulate the oil's temperature to 350 degrees. Three and a half minutes a pound, or until the turkey reaches 165 degrees on a meat thermometer and you got a perfectly brown, perfectly seasoned, crispy on the outside, moist on the inside turkey. While leaving the oven free for stuffing, sides, pies and toasted pecans.

Currently, Mould operates Louisiana Culinary Enterprises, Inc., a restaurant consulting and catering firm. He's also the chef host of "Cooking Up A Good Life," which highlights food, music and Louisiana lifestyle and airs on MyKLAF and FOX TV in Lafayette and Baton Rouge. View episodes here and get more Thanksgiving recipes from Pat's website.