We took a few years off, but for the third time, my friends and I attempted to fry a turkey for Thanksgiving.
On the Fridays after Thanksgiving in 2008 and 2009, my friends and I gathered back in suburban Cleveland, Ohio, to fry a turkey. We faux-cleverly called both events Turkey Fry-Day. I documented both in lists: 11 Lessons My Friends and I Learned Frying a Turkey and 11 NEW Lessons My Friends and I Learned Frying a Turkey.
In 2010, we didn’t have the motivation to fry again. Last year, I didn’t go back to Cleveland for Thanksgiving and the rest of the group didn’t end up frying. But this year… we were all back. (Except one friend who mysteriously texted he was “fried out.”)
Rather than present this year’s turkey fry in the “lessons learned” format, I am just going to present some photos. Because two things are abundantly clear. (1) We have learned essentially NOTHING from our first two turkey frying experiences, so it’s patronizing to pretend we have and (2) We’re past the point of even trying to learn anything; now we just roll with it.
So here, instead, are 11 photos from the third (semi) annual Turkey Fry-day.
1 | McCain/Palin for the block
As we began heating the oil, the weather in Cleveland did a very weather in Cleveland thing — it shifted from “hey, this is actually not bad” to “even Siberian prisoners would find this harsh.” There was a ton of wind, and it kept putting out our flame. So we grabbed the only thing on hand to block the wind — my friend Matt’s parents’ McCain/Palin 2008 lawn sign. I had no idea they were John McCain supporters, but there ya go. This may be the first time a political lawn sign actually accomplished anything.
2 | Prom 1997
One of the great things about going to your childhood home is finding all of the junk that no one’s bothered to throw away. At this turkey fry, Matt produced the take-home souvenir from our prom (15 damn years ago). I’m pretty sure mine didn’t survive prom night, let alone 15 years. The doubly incredible part? His parents moved 10 years ago. Which means someone packed this, moved this, then unpacked this. This glitter-filled plastic champagne glass has Brave Little Toaster-esque survival skills.
3 | Injecting is fun as a group!
Since we never really bothered to read the instructions, we never saw this illustration of a group teaming up to inject the turkey with marinade. Sure, any image of three people simultaneously wielding large syringes LOOKS like an ominous moment from a medical experiment movie scene — but at least those people are always having fun.
4 | Christmas Ale balls
No one else in America just fries a turkey, so why should we? This year, we tried to fry Cleveland’s proudest creation: Great Lakes Christmas Ale beer. Those balls are a mix of flour, butter, and Christmas Ale. How would they turn out? We’ll get to that later. (Spoiler alert: Unimaginably awful.)
5 | Frisbee in the tree
While the turkey was frying, we started trying to toss around a frisbee we found in the garage. And, like all frisbees, it wound up in a tree within about six throws. And that’s when my friend Craig suddenly demonstrated a heretofore unseen tree climbing ability. He actually managed to successfully climb up, rescue the frisbee, and not tear, sprain, pull or break anything.
6 | Deviled eggs
Matt’s wife Jeri made a tremendous amount of side dishes for the fry (or, since she’s from the south, “fixins”). Unfortunately, no one told her that, for some reason, Jews don’t eat deviled eggs. (Much like Jews don’t drink milk with dinner. Weird cultural food quirks.) So while the rest of the sides moved, the deviled eggs remained pristinely untouched.
7 | Best turkey yet
So, again, we ignored everything from our previous fry experiences. We put the fryer on grass, used too much oil, let it heat up too much, didn’t properly dry the turkey, accidentally left the bag of giblets inside the turkey, and didn’t bother to inject it with marinade. And yet — it turned out way better than the two previous years. We didn’t overcook it. It was juicy and delicious. Which is a lesson: Just kinda do whatever you want and things will work out.
8 | Dunk contest
There is a wait between the turkey coming out of the fryer and being ready to serve. This year, we took advantage of the time by dunking on Matt’s eight-and-a-half-foot basketball hoop. The dunks weren’t spectacular, but at least we could still do them. And, again, somehow no one pulled anything. I also found out during this process that the iPhone camera is really bad for action shots — this was the best one I got in about 20 tries.
9 | The other fried stuff
In addition to frying the turkey we also tried frying pickles and the (aforementioned) Christmas Ale balls. They turned out just awful in every way. While I now believe you can fry a turkey without knowing what you’re doing, you really need to have a plan before you dive into more avant-garde frying endeavors.
10 | Something has to break
We didn’t set the house on fire but did end up somehow breaking a knife while carving the turkey. Here, Matt holds the pieces of the knife — the only collateral damage from the day. (Other than the horrible amounts of oil we all added to our bodies.)
11 | The group poses after a successful fry
Another great fry that, like all previous ones, hopefully will not be the last.
And yes, I strategically stood two steps in front of the group in this photo so I would not appear too short.