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Deep-Fried Turkey Brined in Cayenne and Brown Sugar

  • ACTIVE: 1 HR
  • TOTAL TIME: 1 HR plus 36 hr brining
  • SERVINGS: 10, with leftovers
  • STAFF-FAVORITE

Deep-frying a turkey isn't as hard as it sounds (though it does require caution). And there's a great payoff: an exquisitely moist, crispy bird. You can use different kinds of equipment: a stockpot, an electric fryer, a pot-and-propane setup (you can buy these at hardware stores or online at sites like cajun-outdoor-cooking.com). The best deep fryers come with a thermostat and a metal basket for lowering the turkey into the hot oil and removing it once it's done. Whatever equipment you use, the procedure is the same: Heat the oil—it can take up to an hour—then slowly lower the turkey into it. A 12-pound turkey cooks in just 36 minutes following the pitch-perfect timing of 3 minutes per pound.

  1. 3 cups packed light brown sugar (about 1 1/4 pounds)
  2. 1 1/2 cups Dijon mustard
  3. 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons salt
  4. 2 tablespoons cayenne pepper
  5. 2 gallons cold water
  6. 1 bunch of thyme
  7. 1 head of garlic, separated into cloves and crushed
  8. One 12-pound turkey
  9. 2 1/2 gallons vegetable oil
  1. In a large stockpot, whisk the brown sugar with the mustard, salt and cayenne. Gradually whisk in the water, then add the thyme and garlic. Add the turkey, cover and brine in the refrigerator for 35 hours.
  2. In a turkey fryer or an 18-quart or larger stockpot, bring the oil to 400°; this can take up to an hour. Remove the turkey from the brine and pat it dry inside and out with paper towels. Transfer the turkey to a frying basket, breast side up.
  3. Lower the turkey into the hot oil and fry for 3 minutes per pound, 36 minutes. Lift the basket out of the fryer and drain the turkey on a rack set over a rimmed baking sheet for 15 minutes. Carve and serve.