Over the years more people have dared to try deep-frying turkeys, with the unfortunate results of spilled grease, fires and burned hands. A safer option is gaining popularity: the infrared turkey fryer. This cylindrical, double-walled cooking chamber is an easy alternative to hot-oil cooking. Although your mother's oven-roasted turkey is hard to beat, infrared cooking comes closer than oil-frying to matching the oven's roasted flavor while still producing the crispy skin of oil. Char-Broil's Big Easy, introduced in 2007, remained the only oil-less turkey fryer on the market in 2009 and retailed for $139.
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An infrared turkey cooker reduces the risk of serious injury associated with hot-oil deep fryers. You supply a self-contained propane gas source to power the Big Easy, which is for outdoor use. Many deep-fry units require an additional stand, which increases the risk of spills, but this unit stands on its own legs. The removable drip pan makes gravy-making a cinch, because you don't have to worry about dipping out the juices from around a hot, heavy turkey.
An infrared turkey fryer is a healthy alternative to oil-frying because it does not involve cooking in a bunch of fat. The fat drippings from the turkey fall into that separate removable pan on the bottom of the cooker. The drippings can go into gravy.
Marinades and Brines
Marinades, rubs and brines work well with infrared turkey fryers because they can retain the flavors that are washed away by oil fryers. Allow the turkey to marinate or soak in brine overnight for optimum flavor absorption. The flavors will stay with the turkey throughout the cooking period.
Like many cooking pans, your infrared turkey fryer will work best if it's seasoned first. Coat all surfaces with vegetable oil and turn on the cooker for 15 minutes. Your cooker will then be seasoned and ready to use. The turkey can weigh up to 16 lbs. and should be completely thawed before cooking. It will require about 10 minutes of cooking time per pound. The thermometer that comes with the unit will make it easy to determine when the turkey reaches the proper temperature.
Faster Than Oil
An infrared turkey fryer cuts cooking time in half, because oil fryers require 45 minutes to preheat the oil and several hours for the oil to cool after cooking. The Big Easy requires no preheat time and cools down in 15 minutes after cooking.
Cleanup of an infrared oil-less turkey fryer is a breeze. After you remove the turkey, leave the fryer on for another 15 minutes to cook off any stuck-on food. Turn off the cooker, allow 15 minutes for it to cool down, then wipe out the insides with a rag. Food should wipe easily from the nonstick surface. After it dries, apply a coat of vegetable oil to prevent rust and keep your turkey fryer seasoned for its next use.