A turkey fryer is a deep pot filled with oil and heated with electricity or propane. The idea is to shorten the cooking time and seal in moisture while crisping the skin. Fryers don't always come with covers, but if all you use yours for is Thanksgiving or Christmas meals, you may need one to keep off the dust.
Better yet, use your fryer year-round for nonturkey fried and unfried foods that spice up your backyard barbecues, family meals and entertaining.
Wok and Boil
Kate Heyhoe of Kate's Global Kitchen uses her turkey burner for outdoor stir fries in a metal wok. Because of their high heat, fryers can flash-cook different types of food—from Asian veggies to taco fillings. A turkey fryer can sear and singe in seconds, keeping meats browned and tender, and vegetables crisp and tender. Use a well-seasoned steel or iron wok (or large cast-iron skillet) and cook on the patio, in the yard, driveway or poolside.
Use a fryer for a shrimp boil by substituting water for oil. Make a rich cooking broth with seasonings like the recommended Zatarain's Crawfish, Shrimp and Crab Boil in a Bag with their Shrimp and Crab Oil, garlic, onions and salt.
Boil small potatoes, corn on the cob and sausage to accompany the shrimp. Large unpeeled shrimp turns pink in five minutes. Remove it quickly as it will continue to cook for a while. Cover your backyard table with freezer paper shiny side up, spread the shrimp boil out on it, add crusty baguette or garlic bread and some butter, mustard and other condiments. When done, just roll up the paper and dump the water.
Turkey fryers get hotter than your stove top. This feature alone lends them to a host of cooking uses, at least 103 of them listed in the book "103 Uses For Your Turkey Fryer."
Suggestions include boiling maple syrup, canning vegetables and fruits, and cooking prime rib roasts and lobster boils. Boil fresh corn on the cob or follow the instructions for a camper's fish fry, with onion rings or egg rolls. There are recipes for turkey marinades and enough choices to keep your fryer busy, not dusty.
Fryers are hot. Keep overactive dogs and children away from the fryer until it cools down. Put it on level ground in a protected spot. Follow manufacturer's instructions. Do not use nonstick cookware or any pan or utensil that can't withstand the ultra-high heat.