I've cooked turkeys just about every way, but never fried one. Ironic since a turkey fryer is the heart of my setup for my homebrew beer (large pot, big burner just what you need!). I decided this would be the year. I got my oil, my injector and marinade, and my fire extinguisher (2A-40B:C). Did my research (recipes, hints) and prepared a little procedure. I rewatched the Good Eats episode on the topic.
Fry, baby, fry!
Overall, I am disappointed. I would give the turkey a grade of B-. I know what I'll do differently next time. My expectations were high, since everyone raves about fried turkey. But I have refined roasting and grilling (15 years of taking notes on several different methods and re-re-refining procedures) to the point where anything else has a pretty high hurdle to overcome.
The biggest mistake was that the time cited in all the sources, 49 minutes for a 14-pound bird, was too long. When I pulled the bird for probing at 43 minutes, it was already overdone. Not badly over, but enough that a grade of A was impossible. I found a spot in the breast that was 160 but the rest was 180-ish. Grumble. As usual, brining provides a cushion, so the meat was still moist enough, even the breast, but it wasn't prime.
Not sure why I saw the accelerated cooking. My temperature control was not perfect but rarely above target of 350. I did not truss which may have exposed the meat more.
The second mistake was to use a rub. The online sources talk about the bain of black turkeys and blame sugar in the rub. None of my rub components had sugars in them but nonetheless my bird was black. Not burned, and it tasted OK, but was not the crisped mohogany I want. I think a rub can work but next time, I will skip it and instead dust it with kosher salt after it comes out. Recipe I used: 2 T Old Bay; 2T ancho powder; 1 T garlic powder; 1 T salt.
But I think the critical mistake was that I forgot to wear a baseball cap with a confederate flag on it.
Those were the only serious issues. A minor mistake was the flavors in the injected marinade. I like the technique of injecting and the all-metal Eastman injector I bought works really well, but the marinade I used has worcestershire sauce which left its recognizable flavor in all the meat. That was okay, but I thought it was a little too "worcestershiry." Next time I am going to stick with flavors that are much more turkey-compatible like butter, garlic, thyme, apple or orange juices.
Other than that, it all went well. Mechanically, the setup worked well and I had the right gear at the right times. The one thing I forgot was that it gets dark early and I was outside in a mostly unlit area. So I'll add a headlamp or lantern to the equipment list. And a warm coat, since I had to stay there and stand guard.
Instead of the turkey derrick, I had a stout stick with a rope and a caribiner and one person on each end of the stick. The danger is not that extreme -- a simple lifter hook would be adequate. But immersion needs to be very slow, so the two-person method or the derrick prevents tired arms.
Oh, and an infrared thermometer (the kind with the laser spot) was a nice benefit. It very accurately measured the oil temperature.
By the way, the gravy was fine but without drippings, one needs to take special care (a lesson I knew from the grill, which also limits drippings). I used the make-ahead pan gravy recipe and chicken broth and the turkey parts (including wing ends and tail, excluding the liver). New trick: Instead of finely chopping the giblets, and the neck and tail meat, I used the food processor to grind it to almost a paste, allowing a better release of turkey goodness.