Here’s an Idea: Put Stuffing On Your Turkey and Fry It

There’s more than one way to deep-fry a turkey for Thanksgiving. In this version, you’re not submerging a whole bird in an industrial-sized fryer. Instead, you’re making personal-sized, crunchy turkey tenders, breaded in stuffing (yes, I said stuffing) and a hard-cider gravy dipping sauce. That you dip your stuffing fried turkey in. A true holiday miracle.

If you’re doing the whole stovetop Thanksgiving menu , you’re going to want to get the gravy done a couple days ahead. It will reheat beautifully right before you’re ready to eat. Also note: You’d be smart to get a deep-fry thermometer, sometimes called a candy thermometer, and at least one metal rack for this turkey experience.

The day before Thanksgiving, take your 3 lb. turkey breast out of the fridge and feel really smug about the fact that you’re not dealing with an entire bird. Then take your sharpest knife and cut crosswise-against the grain of the muscle fibers-into 1″ strips so they look like jacked-up chicken tenders. Lay those beauties out on a wire rack set on a baking sheet. Don’t panic, you’re not roasting anything. This is Stovetop Thanksgiving, remember?

Put 2 Tbsp. kosher salt in a bowl with and 2 tsp. freshly ground pepper (that’s 50 to 60 turns of the pepper mill, no joke). Conservatively sprinkle the spices over the turkey pieces, flipping them to get both sides (remember, you need to season every piece). Keep sprinkling that spice mix until it’s as gone as last year’s New Year’s resolutions.

Clear some space in your fridge. Please toss that takeout container because I can smell it from here. Slide in the tray with the rack of turkey and let it chill for at least two hours while the spices get everything tenderized. Meanwhile, you could prep some other ingredients for your stovetop dinner. You could peel and cube some potatoes , you could clean and trim some green beans . You could make a quick grilled cheese and Netflix A Christmas Story because we’re all stuck on the express train to Holiday Town so might as well enjoy the ride.

Just before you return to your turkey, prepare the stuffing batter. Get a large bowl and combine 2 cups flour , 2 cups cornstarch , 3 Tbsp. poultry seasoning , 2 Tbsp. garlic powder , 2 Tbsp. onion powder , 1 Tbsp. kosher salt , 2 tsp. baking powder , and 1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper (again, 30 pepper mill twists). This is going to seem like a radical amount of spices. The smell of garlic may begin to overpower you. But stay the course. Grab a smaller bowl.

In the smaller bowl, crack and blend them with a whisk or a fork. Add 2 cups buttermilk and mix it again. Together, the contents of the wet and the dry bowls will encase your turkey in a perfectly crunchy stuffing shell.

Now say hello again to your rack of turkey breasts, but not in an objectifying way. Pay attention here, because you’re gonna do what I call a triple-dip, sneaky mix maneuver. (Note: This is not an official cooking term.) Plop each turkey strip into the dry mixture so it gets a light coating on all sides. Back to your rack, turkeys.

Then, put 6 Tbsp. wet mixture INTO the dry mixture and mix it in with your fingers. Don’t worry if it basically disappears; there will be a few pea-size pieces clumping together.

Now dip each turkey piece into the wet bowl…

…then back into the (mostly) dry bowl, this time packing the dry stuff against the turkey like it’s arts-and-crafts time. Back to your rack again, little turkeys, and return the rack to the fridge. Go the F to sleep.

Good MORNING. Your fridge smells like an explosion in a garlic factory but who cares because it’s Thanksgiving! You’re going to spend most of the day making icebox cake , cranberry hazelnut green bean salad , and schmaltzy mashed potatoes , then allowing your friends and family to shower you with compliments.

About an hour and a half before it’s time to eat, release the turkey from the fridge and let it come to room temperature somewhere out of the fray. (This is a good time to gently reheat that hard-cider gravy you made earlier in the week.) On another burner, heat a lot of oil, like , in a deep, heavy pot with the fry thermometer attached. When the thermometer says 325, you’re ready to start dunking. But first, lay out a bunch of paper towels. If you have another rack, put that on top of the paper towels. This is the landing pad for your finished turkey.

Carefully drop two or three tenders into the oil and let them fry away, turning them occasionally with a heat-safe utensil like metal tongs or a spider (like in the photo below). Try to keep the oil temp from dropping too low by adjusting the heat on your stove, and check the tenders after 5 minutes: They should be deep golden brown, like fried-chicken brown. Give them another minute or two if they’re not there yet.

Scoop out each tender and let it drain on the clean wire rack or directly on the paper towels. Keep frying in batches while your dinner guests look on in disbelief. Don’t worry, the finished turkey can sit out while you fry the rest. It’ll stay good and hot on the inside.

Serve the turkey however you see fit, but for the love of good food, dip it in the gravy. You might even condone a suspension of the double-dipping rule, but you didn’t hear that from me.

We combined two great Thanksgiving traditions in this recipe-deep-fried whole turkeys (which requires an outdoor cooking vessel and a scary amount of hot oil), and the flavors of stuffing, which are worked into a crunchy coating for these tenders. Check out step-by-step photos here.

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