Deep-fried, whole chicken is more than a dish -- it's an event. You can use your turkey fryer to make it in a fraction of the time it takes to roast a chicken in the oven. The process is straightforward: you submerge the chicken in the oil-filled pot as soon as the oil has reached the correct temperature, and gauge the cooking time according to the chicken's weight. An average-sized roaster should be crisp on the outside and tender, juicy and thoroughly cooked inside in under 30 minutes.
Place the chicken in the turkey fryer basket. Lower the basket into the pot.
Pour enough water into the pot to cover the chicken, then mark the water line with a piece of tape. This is your fill line for the oil. Remove the chicken from the pot.
Dry the fryer pot thoroughly to avoid dangerous splattering. Position the burner on firm, level ground, away from buildings, overhangs, trees and other items that might catch fire if oil spills and burns.
Add cooking oil to the fill line. Center the fryer stand over the burner. Place the pot on the stand. Double-check the pot and the stand to make sure they're centered and stable.
Light the burner. Adjust the flame to the height that provides maximum contact with the pot bottom.
Place a thermometer inside the pot so the tip is submerged in oil but not touching the bottom of the pot. Heat the oil to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
Pat the chicken dry inside and out.
Position the chicken on a rack in a baking pan. Refrigerate it, uncovered, while the oil heats. Air circulation will help evaporate remaining moisture on the chicken's surface.
Season the chicken inside and out with salt, pepper and your favorite herbs and spices.
Position the chicken in the frying basket. Turn off the burner.
Lower the basket into the hot oil. Work slowly and gently to avoid splatters.
Turn the burner back on. Fry the chicken for 3.5 minutes per pound, adjusting the burner, if necessary, to maintain an oil temperature of 350 to 375 F.
Turn the burner off after the cooking time is complete.
Lift the basket from the fryer. Keep the basket over the fryer until the oil has stopped dripping, then move the basket to your work surface.
Insert a meat thermometer into the thickest part of the chicken thigh, avoiding the bone. The meat should register at least 180 F. Confirm that the chicken is thoroughly cooked by inserting the thermometer into the thickest part of the breast. The breast temperature should register at least 165 F.
Return the chicken to the fryer if it's undercooked, then turn the burner on. Turn the burner off again before removing the chicken after it has finished cooking.
Let the chicken rest for 10 to 20 minutes before you cut it.
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- Thaw chicken completely before you fry it. Ice crystals contain water that will cause the oil to splatter.
- Most fryer pots are large enough to hold two chickens. Follow the manufacturer's guidelines regarding bird size to reduce the risk of overfilling.
- Although you can brine or marinate the chicken in a deep container filled with liquid before you fry it, injector kits make the job easier. The kits provide syringes you can use to inject flavorings into the meat. For best results, inject marinades at least 24 hours in advance to give the liquid time to permeate the meat.
- Peanut oil's high smoking temperature makes it an excellent choice for deep-frying.
- Wear boots, oven mitts and a heavy apron to protect yourself from burns in the event the pot tips over.
- The cooking oil is reusable. Let it cool before you store it. Strain the oil into a container using a mesh strainer, colander, cheesecloth or towel.
- Always set up your fryer on a hard, level surface, far enough away from buildings and vegetation that an oil spill won't start a larger fire.
- Keep a fire extinguisher on hand -- never use water on an oil fire.
- Keep people and pets a safe distance from the fryer.
- Never leave the fryer unattended while the burner is on, or while the oil is 100 F or hotter.
Daria Kelly Uhlig began writing professionally for websites in 2008. She is a licensed real-estate agent who specializes in resort real estate rentals in Ocean City, Md. Her real estate, business and finance articles have appeared on a number of sites, including Motley Fool, The Nest and more. Uhlig holds an associate degree in communications from Centenary College.