Text: Jason Derouen, The Cajun Ninja
The Cajun Ninja’s Life-Changing Fried Turkey & Turkey Gravy
I cannot begin to tell you guys how much I love Thanksgiving. It might be because the idea of having several varieties of food at my disposal excites me to my core. As a child, I remember Thanksgiving being one of the few days a year when we sat down to the dinner table as an entire family.
My parents worked opposite schedules most of my life. My mom would work nights in the hospital, and my dad worked days as a grocery store manager. It was very seldom that we sat down and had a normal family dinner. But Thanksgiving was generally a day that both of them were off work.
Oddly enough, in my family, we didn’t eat turkey on Thanksgiving. My mom said she made it one time, and no one hardly ate it. I must have been very young, because I don’t remember that. But from then on, she always made pot roast.
Nobody seemed to complain, though; the pot roast was always really good. Alongside the pot roast would be cornbread dressing, green bean casserole, sweet potato casserole, corn, cranberry sauce, and dinner rolls—just to name a few of the items. Like most people, I would usually be in pain from the amount of food I ate, but it always made for some great naps.
Turkey may not have been a holiday tradition in my family growing up, but it is now. I first started dabbling with a fried turkey recipe back when I lived in Broussard. I had a neighbor who lived nearby named Steve Bodin. Every year, Steve and his family get up very early to make fried turkey for Thanksgiving.
It’s a ritual they’ve had for many years, and one year, Steve invited me over to take part in the tradition. Everyone brought over their turkey that they’d already seasoned the night before. They lined them up one after the other and fried them according to size. It was an awesome day. Since then, Steve and I have gone on to become great friends and still keep in touch with each other every year.
Trust me when I say fried turkey is a game changer. I think you’ll really enjoy this one. Just be sure to be very cautious when cooking it. You want to set up your fryer away from your house and very slowly place the turkey into the hot oil. Should you follow all the steps accordingly, your turkey will come out just right.
Another amazing recipe I have in my back pocket is Seafood Cornbread Dressing. My goodness, this one always goes over well no matter where I bring it. Just imagine regular cornbread stuffing with south Louisiana flair. There’s the holy trinity of onion, celery, and bell pepper and, of course, the pope (minced garlic). There’s chopped shrimp and lump crabmeat, along with some Monterey Jack cheese and Pi-YAHHHHH!! Seasoning.
It is an outstanding side dish. Oh, and here’s another tip: any leftover dressing makes for some amazing stuffed bell peppers. Yes, indeed, I cannot wait for Thanksgiving. To tell you the truth, I might have to cook some of this a little early, you know, for “practice.” LOL.
Jason Derouen is the personality behind The Cajun Ninja. Follow along on his cooking adventures at The Cajun Ninja on Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube. Find more Cajun Ninja recipes here.
The Cajun Ninja’s Phenomenal Fried Turkey & Turkey Gravy
- 1 (12-to 15-pound) frozen whole turkey, thawed
- 8 ounces Cajun or Creole injector
- marinade Pi-YAHHHHH!! Seasoning, to taste
- 3 gallons frying oil (preferably peanut oil)
- 8 cups water
- 2 carrots, cut into large pieces
- 2 stalks celery, cut into large pieces
- 1 yellow onion, cut into large pieces
- 4 cloves garlic
- Turkey neck
- Turkey liver
- Turkey gizzard
- ½ tablespoon Pi-YAHHHHH!! Seasoning
- 1 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
- 1 stick butter
- ½ cup all-purpose flour
- Ground black pepper, to taste
- Make sure your turkey is fully defrosted. The night before frying, inject the marinade in various spots on the turkey. Season the turkey generously with Pi-YAHHHHH!! Seasoning, and refrigerate overnight.
- When ready to start frying, fill a tall 7-to 8-gallon pot with 3 gallons of frying oil. Using a propane burner placed outdoors and away from your house, heat the pot on a medium-high heat, and gradually get to 350°.
- While the oil is heating up, back in the house, heat a medium pot with 8 cups water on a high heat.
- Add carrots, celery, onion, and garlic to the pot of water. Add the turkey neck, liver, gizzard, Pi-YAHHHHH!! Seasoning, and salt. Once the pot has reached a boil, cover, lower to a simmer, and cook for 1 hour. When the hour is up, drain through a sieve over a large bowl so only a clean stock remains.
- When the frying oil has reached 350°, slowly—and I mean slowly—lower the turkey into the pot. You may even have to hold it for a bit before you lower the entire way. Lowering too fast can cause a huge overspill and, in some cases, a fire. So, please, lower slowly.
- Once the turkey is completely submerged, you set a timer for 3½ minutes per pound. For example, you’d cook a 12-pound turkey for about 42 minutes. Set a timer for a couple minutes before done so you are standing ready when it is done.
- While the turkey is frying, heat a medium pot on a medium-low heat on the stove. Melt the stick of butter in the pot. Add the flour, and stir frequently until you reach a caramel color. This may take about 45 minutes. If the turkey finishes before the roux, just turn the heat off, and return when you’re done removing the turkey.
- When removing the turkey, let it hang over the pot for a bit so that much of the oil can drain from the turkey. Set the turkey down on a tray, and bring inside.
- Finish getting the roux to a caramel color and then slowly start to add ladles of the stock to the roux. Keep adding and stirring until you reach your desired consistency. Season with salt and pepper if you find it needs more. Once you have your gravy done, carve up and serve. Enjoy!