Welcome to Thanksgiving in Memphis. Elvis pioneered the fried peanut butter and banana sandwich. At the fair they sell fried twinkies and fried snickers bars. It didn't take too long for someone to attempt to fry a turkey.
The problem with frying a turkey is that the most thankful of fowl tend to be a mite large for most fryers. So, after many failed attempts at cramming a 15 pound bird into a 2 quart pot someone thought about getting a huge barrel of a pot and filling it with oil. The turkey fits! Awesome . . . but now the pot won't fit on the stove. Ok, that's not a problem, we'll just hook up a propane burner to the bottom of the pot and the deep fried joy will commence.
MacGuyvered turkey fryer? Check.
Large, dead bird? Check.
Comedy of errors? Will ensue.
Oh the potential for disaster when one attempts to fry a turkey.
"It's cold outside, lets move the fryer into the garage (or the house). Ah, that's much better. Hey, do you feel sleepy?"
"Ok, make sure you fill the pot up with oil and get it nice and hot before we put the turkey in." (Archimedes would want to remind us all that liquid is displaced by the immersion of a solid. The displaced liquid in a full pot must go somewhere, and the closest place is over the edge of the pot which is sitting atop an open flame, oh and by the way, oil burns very vigorously)
So we didn't have either of those problems yesterday, so we thought things were going well. We went over to a friend's house and they had their half filled pot outside and over the flame heating. We waited patiently for the oil to approach the critical temperature of 325 degrees. We waited for over 2 and a half hours watching the temperature crawl ever so slowly upward until it stalled at about 250 degrees. It would not get any hotter. Meanwhile, in the house they had started to heat up some ham so that the meal could still go on since it appeared that a cooked turkey of any sort was hours (or days) away.
I sat outside with my friend as we both tried to think of possible ways to rectify the situation. We tested the thermometer to see if it was accurate. We made sure the valves on the tank were wide open. We tried to move the flame closer to the pot. Then, in desperation we started to turn off the valves . . . the flame turned from yellow to bright blue. We both stopped. We looked at each other. A little fiddling adjusted the flame to be big and blue and the thermometer began to jump up.
We couldn't help but laugh. We had waited for hours and hours for the oil to heat up, and it was all about a twist of the knob. In our defense the knob had the helpful directions of "ON -->" and "OFF-->" with no mention of some magical place in the middle where the oil would actually get hotter than bathwater.
So we placed the turkey into the oil and immediately the heavenly smell of a fowl drowning in boiling oil wafted toward us. All was right with the world. 45 minutes later we strode triumphantly toward the kettle platter and utensils in hand to retrieve our prize from the golden depths. This bird would be tender and juicy and flavorful, like none other.
It was tender indeed. So tender that as we attempted to draw it forth from it's bubbling abode it fell apart. What had once been a majestic bird was now fried turkey bits. We could hardly contain our laughter when we were walking into the house. We hurried to carve the turkey and hide the evidence of the mangled beast that we were going to serve.
It tasted good though.