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Feeling Fried?

Todd Mazurek pairs his hazelnut butter-rubbed fried turkey with a lamb sausage, focaccia, and pineapple-sage dressing. Photographs by Christopher Nelson

November 18, 2010

Feeling Fried?
Trade your usual Thanksgiving turkey recipe for a deliciously nutty fried version dreamed up by Caviar & Bananas chef Todd Mazurek

written BY Anna Evans

Deep-fried turkey flew the Southern coop back in the ’90s, landing on Thanksgiving tables across the United States. “People love this cooking method because it creates juicy meat with a wonderfully thick, crispy skin. Plus, a turkey can fry in as few as 45 minutes, and the process requires minimal clean-up,” says Caviar & Bananas executive chef Todd Mazurek.

The Johnson & Wales University grad, who’s worked in the kitchens of Fat Hen, Wild Olive, COAST, and other local restaurants, fries a bird for his own celebration every year. “I always start by soaking it in a citrus and herb brine for two days to make the meat really moist,” he says. “But I experiment with a different rub each time.”

A peanut butter recipe has worked well in the past, but this year, he found that homemade hazelnut butter tastes even better. “Hazelnuts are milder and sweeter, bringing out more of the turkey’s flavors and providing a nice complement to the peanut oil that I fry it in,” he explains.

And the butter is a cinch to make. “Toast the nuts by coating them in two tablespoons of hazelnut oil, tossing them until evenly coated, then baking them on a sheet pan at 300°F for 12 minutes,” instructs Mazurek. Make sure the turkey is dry inside and out before you apply the rub—this will help it stick to the skin, creating a holiday bird you’ll be truly thankful for.

Hazelnut Butter Rub
(Makes 1 Quart)
5 cups hazelnuts, toasted
4 Tbs. hazelnut oil
1 tsp. sea salt
1 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. smoked paprika
1 tsp. lavender flower

Place toasted hazelnuts in a blender or food processor and pulse until they are of a coarse consistency. With the machine at a low speed, slowly add hazelnut oil and grind mixture for two to three minutes until meal consistency, scraping down sides of container as needed. Gradually add remaining ingredients and blend on low until thoroughly mixed, about two minutes.

For the full hazelnut-rubbed fried turkey recipe (including directions for the citrus and herb brine), plus tips on safe deep-frying, click here.

For Mazurek’s lamb, focaccia, and pineapple-sage dressing recipe, click here.

To search our recipe database for more seasonal dishes, click here.

Thu, 11/18/2010