Ben’s Life-Altering Cajun Turkey

The Cajun-spiced deep-fried turkey has become very popular since Emeril introduced it on Food Network several years ago.  Most of us don’t have a fryer large enough for a turkey, nor do we want to spend $50 on a fryer and another $50 on peanut oil, so an alternative is to “brine” the turkey from the inside out (rather than normal brining which happens from the oustide in) to produce the same spicy flavor and replicate the moistness that comes from deep frying…all in a healthy roasted turkey.
I make a traditional turkey for Thanksgiving 1 with my family, because half of them don’t like spicy food.  But when I come home to Lewisville for Thanksgiving 2, my friends will ONLY accept this cajun turkey.  They love it so much that I have to do Thanksgivings 3, 4, and 5 spread throughout the year so they can have the turkey often.  Enjoy it!

SPICE BASE:

1 cup kosher salt
1/4 cup cayenne pepper
1/4 cup finely ground black pepper
1/2 cup garlic powder

INJECTABLE BINE:

Take 1/2 cup of the spice base and put into a sauce pan with:

4 T butter or oil
1/2 c apple cider vinegar (or vinegary white wine)
juice of 2 lemons
2 cups water

Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer 15 minutes. Remove from heat and cool to room temperature. Strain through a fine strainer to remove big particles which might clog the injector.

Fill meat injector and inject turkey all over. Continue pressing down on the syringe even as you begin to pull the needle back out so that brine is injected at all levels of the meat. Continue injecting all over the turkey until most or all of the brine is gone or until the turkey is swollen with brine. This is a VERY messy affair, as brine will squirt out the puncture wound in the turkey each time you remove the needle, so be prepared with a towel.

Put turkey in fridge and chill overnight, or at least 8 hours before turkey will be cooked.

This turkey is brilliant fried.  But frying can be a messy, expensive affair.  (Still, it will produce the most delicious turkey you’ve ever tasted.  Just remember to always fry OUTSIDE, always wear long sleeves and protective gloves, remember the the oil will expand dramatically when the wet, cold turkey hits it and displaces it, lower the turkey into the oil VERY slowly, and make sure you’ve done your research if it’s your first time!)

Preheat oven to 500 degrees.

Remove turkey from fridge and press foil around legs to create little heat shields. Fold a square of foil into a triangle and push over the breast to form a heat shield. Then remove the shields and keep in a safe place near the oven.

Rub the turkey all over, including the inside of the cavity, with canola oil. Take the remaining spice base and rub it into the oiled skin on the outside of the turkey. Put the turkey into the 500 degree oven for 30 minutes. Remove the turkey from the oven and turn the temperature down to 350.

Cover the legs and breast with the foil heat shields (carefully! the turkey is hot) and push a meat thermometer through the foil and into the center of the thickest part of the breast. Make sure the thermometer isn’t contacting the breast bone.

Return the turkey to the 350 degree oven and roast until the thermometer reads 161 degrees. Total cooking time for a 14 pound bird will be 2-3 hours, generally.

Remove turkey from oven and cover with foil and let it rest at least 15 minutes before carving.

The juices in the pan can be made into a fantastic Cajun gravy, but use them sparingly as they are very salty.

2 Responses to Ben’s Life-Altering Cajun Turkey

  1. Hey Ben,
    I’m trying to find your recipe for the Siracha Brine for turkey you were telling me about on FB is it written down anywhere on your website?? I’d love to try it:)

    • Becky, I don’t have it posted. I basically add 1/2 cup sriracha to a gallon of apple cider brine (1.5 cups Morton’s kosher salt, 1/2 cup brown sugar, 1 quart apple cider vinegar, 2 quarts apple cider, 1 quart water). You can also just use water for the liquid.

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