Turkey Day Traditions: Bring Out the Fryer
Thanksgiving is all about traditions. Whether it’s getting up at 6 a.m. to put the turkey in the oven, whipping up grandma’s signature pumpkin pie recipe, or going out to dinner with family and friends, we all have our own special way of spending Thanksgiving.
Mike Currey, of Harwood, shared his with us – a neighborhood tradition of frying turkeys (and other things) on Thanksgiving morning.
Q. When and how did you start this turkey frying tradition?
A. It started about 10 years ago. We first fried a couple turkeys at my parents house (Margie and John Currey of Edgewater). The next year we went to a family friend’s (Pat and Kerrie Flaherty of Edgewater) – and finally the fest ended up at my house in 2007—and it’s never left. What started out as one turkey fryer, where we would fry one or two turkeys, has grown into three or four, frying 15 to 20 turkeys for many families. Last year we had over 70 people join in the festivities. We have three fryers going for turkeys starting at 7 a.m. and we designate one fryer for food to serve to our guests.
Q. What kinds of things do you fry?
A. We start with homemade donuts, (kid favorites), then we start frying turkeys. The first turkey is served up to the guests and people “pick” at fried food for the rest of the day. We fry a turkey every 45 minutes until we’re done. We tell our family and friends their turkey can’t exceed 16 pounds and it must be thawed. We don’t want to add an explosion to our traditional fry fest.
Each year we add to our menu. I make up my own rubs for the turkeys and season all the batters. This year we plan to fry donuts, funnel cake, onion rings, sweet potato fries, russet potato fries, sweet potato and russet chips, tempura battered green beans and broccoli, oysters, fresh tuna, shrimp, mozzarella sticks, fried dough, Scotch eggs, barbecue pork pot stickers, and chicken strips.
Q. Do you have any help with this event?
A. My friend and neighbor, Phil Medlin is a huge part of the success. Phil arrives early in the morning with tables, heaters and even decorations. Last year, he also set up a raw bar, and that was a huge hit. Phil fishes and he donates fresh tuna. He helps man the fryers and makes sure we have all the correct sauces to go with each dish. My brother Ray Currey (also of Edgewater) is usually a huge part of this event, arriving at our house at 6:30 a.m., but sadly he will be out of town this year. My wife Laura does lots of chopping and questions why we have to fry all this food, but I told her not to be a dream-squasher, so she’s on board, or at least pretends she is.
Q. Do you serve any beverages?
A. I start the day by serving my own fresh roasted coffee. Then my neighbor and friend, Billy Long shows up with Egg Nog to kick off the season. We then turn to our choice of craft keg beer. I made a mobile kegerator that we have in the cul-de-sac. Of course we also serve cocktails, wine and alternative beverages for adults and kids. It’s basically a huge party.
Q. What do the kids do during this Fry Fest?
A. Kids eat all the yummy fried food and non-fried options, as well. They enjoy jumping on our trampoline, climbing on the neighbor’s playground, playing a quick pick up game of basketball or football, skate boarding and jumping in leaf piles. If it’s too cold they end up inside playing air hockey or pool.
Q. How do you get invited to the event?
A. It’s basically family, friends and neighbors and word of mouth. Usually once someone attends they never miss it. Laura’s family has driven down from Connecticut for the past five years, it’s our tradition.
Q. Any final thoughts?
A. This day is all about family and friends, being thankful and enjoying life. There is no dress code, it’s just come and enjoy yourself and be happy. It’s one of my favorite days of the year.