When it comes to Thanksgiving turkey, East Quogue Fire Chief Greg Celi, Jr. said fried turkey is the best and he wouldn't have it any other way.
"Deep frying is definitely the best way to cook a turkey," he said. "It comes out absolutely fantastic."
Over the past several years, Celi says he has perfected his method, taking into account taste and most importantly, safety.
"There are some definite safety tips that you want to take," said Celi.
According to the U.S. Fire Administration several dangers can mount from deep-frying a turkey and more than 4,000 deep-frying fires have been reported on Thanksgiving across the country.
The following are some deep-frying tips from Celi:
• Make sure your cooking apparatus is set away from anything flammable, such has a house, shed or trees. The best place to locate it, he said is on a driveway or stone patio.
• Have a fire extinguisher ready.
• Make sure the turkey is well-dried and there is no water residing on the skin or inside, especially if you chose to brine it — a 12 to 25 hour process that Celi said he uses from a recipe he found on foodnetwork.com.
"The mix of oil and water is what causes the eruption. Oil and water don't mix," he said. "If the turkey is dry, there is less of a chance of a flash over."
• Never lean over the cooking apparatus, including when dropping the turkey into the oil.
To ensure his own safety when frying his Thanksgiving turkey, Celi said he created an A-Frame device with a pulley system that he uses to drop and pull out his turkey.
• Wear heavy, leather work gloves. This he said will prevent burns.
• Keep children away.
• To ensure the proper amount of oil in the fryer, Celi suggests placing the turkey in the fryer, then adding oil. Then, pull the turkey out and heat up the oil.
Oil, said Celi should be heated to 350 degrees. If it is any higher, Celi said the turkey will burn.
Once the turkey is submerged in the fryer, a 12 to 13 pound turkey should cook for between 35 and 45 minutes.
At that point, he said, the turkey will be ready, but don't get the carving knife out just yet.
"Wait at least a half an hour," he said. "When you take the turkey out, it should have an internal temperature of 151 degrees, but he said, you want it to be between 160 and 161.
"It will continue to cook after you take it out," he said.
The final product, said Celi should be a juicy turkey, unlike ones he said that are cooked in the oven.
"Oven turkeys tend to be dry and overcooked," said Celi, not to mention that a large turkey will take up much-needed oven space.
Editor's Note: The above article was originally published in Nov. 2012.