Deep-fried turkey is a Southern holiday favorite. It's possible to make a home turkey fryer and deep-fry turkey in your own backyard. You must be careful, however, to have the right-sized equipment and be aware of safety concerns. Using too small of a pot, not regulating the oil temperature or not using a basket or other method of slowly lowering the turkey into the oil can lead to serious burns and grease fires.
The proper equipment is important for deep-frying a turkey safely. One of the most important things to have is the right-sized pot for a deep fryer; otherwise the oil will overflow when you add the turkey, leading to a grease fire.
For the ideal frying turkey (up to 15 pounds), you will need a 10- to 15-gallon pot. To choose the right pot (and calculate the amount of oil you will need), add your turkey to the pot and cover it with water by about an inch. There should still be space at the top of the pot, in case the oil boils up when you add the turkey.
Remove the turkey, then mark the water level in the pot. Rinse and dry the pot before filling it with oil up to the mark. Remember to dry the turkey completely as well; water on the turkey's surface can cause the hot oil to splatter.
You also need a basket or stand to hold the turkey. There should be a handle or loop on top, to which you can attach a hook for safely lowering or removing the turkey from the deep fryer.
For heating the oil , use a burner attached to a propane tank. Make sure the burner is large and sturdy enough to hold the pot. Wrap the hose of the propane tank in tinfoil to prevent damage from an oil spill.
Make sure the burner is on a level, non-flammable surface, such as dirt or concrete (although the oil can stain concrete if it overflows).
To safely deep fry a turkey, use two thermometers: an oil or candy thermometer to keep in the oil and regulate its temperature and a meat thermometer for checking the turkey after it's done. Keep the oil at 350 degrees; if the oil gets too hot, it can cause a fire. Use oil with a high smoke point, such as peanut or safflower.
The turkey will take about three to four minutes per pound to cook and is done when it has an internal temperature of 165 degrees. You can remove it from the oil when it is 5 or 10 degrees short to allow for carryover cooking.
Always have a fire extinguisher on hand when using a turkey deep fryer. Use non-flammable potholders to lower the turkey or remove it from the oil (or check out the Resources for Alton Brown's extra-safe method, which involves rigging a pulley system to lower the turkey from several feet away). Never leave a turkey deep fryer unattended.
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