- Safe to Use â€“ Reduced personal injury (burn) and fire concerns when compared to those associated with cooking methods that use a large pot of hot cooking oil.
- Economical â€“ No need to purchase (and recycle) large amounts of cooking oil
- Ease of Use â€“ Heats up and cools down more quickly. Placing the basket in this "fryer" is simpler and easier than dipping turkey into and extracting turkey from hot oil.
- Versatile â€“ Suggested use for cooking a variety of meats and vegetables.
- Healthy â€“ Oil-less cooking can be lower in fat
- Longer Cooking Times than a Traditional Turkey Fryer
- Not truly a Fryer â€“ Infrared heat emulates rather than replicates the conduction heat transfer mechanisms employed by traditional turkey fryers.
Over the years, I have heard many rave reviews of fried turkey. Unfortunately, I have never personally experienced this "out of this world" variant of the Thanksgiving bird. Recently, though, I decided that this was going to be the year.
Starting at my local Home Depot, then, I was on a quest to procure a turkey fryer to add to our backyard arsenal of barbeque gear. At this, my first stop, I was presented with two options. A traditional Brinkmann propane fryer unit or an "oil-less" Char-Broil model. The Brinkmann, at $70, was my initial choice. The Char-Broil Big Easy, at $140, was twice the price. I loaded my cart, and then moved on to pick-up the oil I would need to carry out my anticipated initial culinary feat with this new appliance. The oil, however, was an additional $30. This is where the doubts started. I began to question the wisdom of my choice. How often would I use this beast with such an expense for every use. How safe is the whole process. Would I end up in the emergency room with burns from the hot oil splattered or splashed on me? Would I burn down my house by overturning or otherwise misusing this apparatus filled with dangerously hot oil?
My next move was to return and more closely examine the "oil-less" product. How could this work? Well, the box explained that it cooks using infrared heat transfer. It won an award for innovation. It showed applications other than turkey preparation. I started thinking about what might really be the better deal. In the long run, I reasoned that the oil-free fryer would seem to be the safer and more economical choice. Shouldn't it also be the healthier option? Dipping a bird in all of that oil certainly can't be the best option in terms of fat content. Would it achieve the same result, however. What made the fried poultry so tasty. Was it primarily because the oil cooked it so quickly? If so, perhaps there was some chance that this could actually work? In the end, I decided to take the Char-Broil oil-less fryer home with me. I reasoned that this was a product that I was more reasonably likely to use often enough to justify its purchase price. At this point, however, I considered this a "probationary" purchase. When I got home, I would research this further on the Internet. If the findings there were not positive, I would return it.
That evening, I did indeed exercise due diligence in checking the background and pedigree of my new fryer. When most opinions that I came across were indeed positive, I decided to keep it. The Char-Broil site explained that the infrared cooking technique it employs, has little convection to dry out the meat as it cooks. As I found it on sale at Lowes for $40 less, though, I was back at Home Depot the next day. Although they honored their lowest price guarantee, I still left with a lighter wallet after adding a "heat-proof" mat to protect my deck and a hose extension to support use of my handy propane "quick-connect" adapter.
After opening the box, I spent the next hour assembling the unit. Although this took a little while, the hardware was conveniently packaged and the instructions were simple and clear. The unit seemed to be fairly well engineered and assembled. On my fryer, though, the circular burner at the base seems a little off center. I'm not sure if this is unique to mine or if it was designed this way. With everything put together and apparently functional, I could almost taste the turkey. Rather than waiting for the upcoming big event (Thanksgiving), we quickly decided that a trial run was in order.
I purchased a fresh 12 pound bird at the supermarket and headed back to the Internet for recipe suggestions and tips. I finally settled on marinating it in a brine solution followed by the use of a basic injectable marinade before cooking.
The results were quite good. We had a very enjoyable Thanksgiving preview. The cooking time, however, was not nearly as short as the 3.5 minutes per pound that true "fryer" units advertise. My twelve pounder took a little over two and a half hours. While the results were very good, I'm not sure that it was a taste that I could not closely replicate in my oven.
The bottom line is that I am happy with the purchase and recommend it to others. It seems a versatile "grilling" platform that I can use for a variety of purposes. I'm thinking maybe corn on the cob next summer, for instance. It did a fine job on my test turkey, which I expect to be repeatable. I am comfortable with the safety implications of its use. Never having tasted truly fried turkey, however, I cannot legitimately comment on how it compares to traditional fryers. While I still have much curiosity about actually fried turkey, though, for now I will wait for an opportunity to sample some prepared by another. I have personally chosen the "oil-less" lifestyle.
For me, the true test of this product will result from its extended use. How useful this product is to me depends upon how well the currently perceived "pros" pan out as I utilize it to prepare a variety of foods and recipes. The longer term quality and reliability of this product will also require continued assessment. Based on my initial experience, however, I expect to be a satisfied customer.