Do You Need A Culinary Degree To Be A Chef Origin of the "Cajun" Deep Fried Turkey

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Origin of the "Cajun" Deep Fried Turkey

While planning this year’s Thanksgiving feast where I will be serving deep fried turkey, I was intrigued by the origins of the deliciousness.

What is deep fried turkey?

“Roasting turkeys is the Southern version of making fondue. You have a bunch of friends over, you stir in a pot of hot oil with chopsticks, and then you bring out your food.” Justin Wilson, Cajun legend. , remembers seeing a fried turkey in Louisiana in the 1930s.”—Something Different: Deep Fried Turkey, Beverly Bundy, St. Louis DispatchNovember 24, 1997 (Food p. 4)

What is deep fried turkey? Tossed with a marinade and cooked in 350 F peanut or other vegetable oil, deep-fried turkey is lean. The deep-frying process locks in the juices and creates juicy meat and a delicious golden skin. With a stunning interior and stunning exterior, the explosion of flavors and matching style has made it a favorite for barbecues, block parties, tailgating, holiday parties and even casual wedding receptions.

It seems that I first heard about deep turkeys 15 years ago, and then suddenly everyone and their brother are doing it. So what caused these sudden events?

Roots in the Southern United States

Deep Frying Turkey originated in the Southern United States, which is Louisiana. I’ve heard that there are a few restaurants in Southern Louisiana that have become known for marinating whole birds with a creole-style marinade and then tossing them in hot peanut oil. There has to be something bigger, even if the word is heard, the regional restaurant does not have the opportunity to change such a deep-rooted tradition as the oven-baked turkey.

I thought maybe it was the new availability of large deep fryers like the original Kamp Kooker sold by Home Depot, or was it a favorite of celebrity chefs like Emeril?

Why is it called Cajun if not?

I began to search a little on the Internet, and although I spent only a few hours, it seems that there is no specific year, restaurant, or person that is compatible with this style of cooking Turkey. There is evidence that roast turkeys were cooked outside for big popular events (family reunions, charity dinners, church dinners, etc.) at the beginning of the twentieth century.

Considered a cajun tradition, I found no direct ties to acadian-cajun culture. In fact I found many food experts agree that fried rabbits find their roots in Bayou (Louisiana/Texas) creole cuisine. Recipes migrated from Louisiana/Texas to Missouri, Tennessee, Georgia (peanut oil), and Washington DC before moving north to Seattle and Vancouver.

The power of Martha Stewart

So here it seems like a magic bullet. I found where Martha Stewart is credited for taking the popular American route in the early 90’s:

“Fried pork has been all the rage for the past decade in New Orleans, and long before that it was a tradition in the bayou and throughout the South. It can be traced directly to Martha Stewart, who plucked it from regional obscurity and featured it in her magazine in 1996.”- –It’s Treacherous, But Oh So Tasty; Fried-Turkey Fans Are at Risk, Annie Gowen, Washington Post, November 22, 2001 (p. B1)

If so, it seems that Martha did the whole business. A typical setup including all the equipment for a turkey fryer can run $200-$300. I can say that those people and the peanut butter people thank Marita.

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