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11/19/2012 - Thanksgiving Day safe cooking tips

How to cook a turkey properly is something to learn for Thanksgiving.

The fourth Thursday of November only means one thing: Thanksgiving, a time when families gather around the kitchen table and give thanks for their bountiful harvest. And for some people no Thanksgiving would be complete without the meal's centerpiece - turkey.

Traditionally, a large turkey takes several hours to cook – but in more recent years, it's become increasingly popular to deep fry them. Those who do so swear by its good taste and, perhaps more importantly, how quick it is to prepare.

But every year, people who are unfamiliar with safe turkey-frying practices mistakenly start a fire. In fact, according to statistics from the U.S. Fire Administration, approximately 2,000 to 4,300 Thanksgiving Day fires occur in homes around the country each year, leading to property insurance losses averaging $21 million to $27 million.

To keep your Thanksgiving holiday as safe as possible, here are a few things to keep in mind should deep-fried turkey be on this year's menu.

1. Always fry outside. Frying turkeys should always be done in the outdoors. Fryolators contain extremely hot oil, and should anything spill, it could create a fire hazard. When outside, be sure to keep all children a safe distance away from the cooking area.

2. Use appropriate amount of oil. The traditional cooking oil used for turkey frying is either peanut or canola oil. Whichever is used, it's important to ensure that the appropriate amount is put into the pot. The best way to determine this is to place the turkey inside the pot and then fill the pot until there is a half-inch of water above the turkey. Then, mark where the water level is. This is about how much oil should be inside.

3. Ensure fryer is in full view at all times. Always stay close to where a turkey is frying so that it can be closely monitored.

4. Set Fryolator up in open area. Ideally, the Fryolator should be in a wide open area, with no standing structures close by. Some may set their cooking station up on a deck or under their house's eaves. This should be avoided.

5. Monitor turkey. Though a deep-fried turkey is often done within an hour or two, it should be checked on to ensure it's cooking appropriately. When taking the lid off of the pot, wear some type of long-sleeve shirt or any kind of covering that protects bare skin as it's possible that the oil in the pot could splatter.  Should the oil within the pot begin to smoke, turn the gas supply off immediately in order to avoid a potential fire.

If a fire occurs, call 911 immediately. However, by following these steps, the cooking process should go off without a hitch. For more safety tips on how to deep fry a turkey, visit the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission's website, or click here.

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