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Safety tips for frying Thanksgiving turkey

JEFFERSON COUNTY - By Megan Dillard - Time with family, football games on TV, and of course, the turkey. All part of Thanksgiving tradition. With the fun and celebration during the holidays comes the reminder that safety should be also a big part of the holiday.


For many people, the turkey is the centerpiece of the Thanksgiving meal. While many bake or roast the main course, there are also a lot of people who fry their turkeys. KFDM spoke with a caterer who also served as volunteer fire chief. He showed us the right way to fry a turkey and what can happen if you're not careful.


Rich Courville has fried turkeys for more than 30 years. He runs Big Rich Courville's Catering off Highway 90.


"We're going to show you how to put the proper amount of oil in the pot that you're going to fry the turkey in. If you put too much oil in it, by the time you set the turkey down in the oil, if it displaces too much oil, you've got a fire."


He's also served as a volunteer fire chief; experience he says comes in handy when it comes to staying safe in the kitchen. Courville says most house fires this time of year are caused by people who don't know the correct way to fry a turkey.


Here is what he suggests: one - make sure the turkey is completely thawed. Two - measure the amount of liquid you need by putting the bird in a pot and filling it with water. Then, take the turkey out and the water level that's left behind is how much oil you need for frying.


"Take a butter knife and scratch the inside of the pot. There's many ways to do that to make sure you've got the right level of oil in there. You want the oil level to be just over the top of the bird. If you don't have a lot of free board in that pot, get a bigger pot."


Courville took us to the China Volunteer Fire Department to demonstrate what happens when people don't use safety in frying. When you use a frozen turkey, a pot that's too small, or too much oil, you could get this.


"Dropping too big a turkey in too small a pot and it has enough liquid in it to make the grease boil over. When the grease boils over onto an open flame or the burner, then you've got a major fire." A scene that firefighters see year after year at Thanksgiving.


Again, make sure the turkey is thawed, rinsed, and patted dry. Measure the oil level before you start cooking. Dry your pot well. Remember: oil and water don't mix. Courville suggests heating the oil to 350 degrees and cooking the turkey for about 4 minutes per pound. Make sure you're frying outside away from loose debris and never leave the fire unattended.


Thank you to Market Basket, the China Volunteer Fire Department, and Rich Courville for today's demonstration.

Safety tips for frying Thanksgiving turkey

Wednesday, January 30 2013, 03:45 PM CST
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