Rachael was provided with a Char Broil Big Easy Infrared Turkey Fryer last fall and brought it to our house for Thanksgiving.
We used it to cook our Thanksgiving turkey. About.com has an article about infrared grilling. The article says that cooking through conduction is "the direct transfer of heat from one thing to another" like cooking in a frying pan. Cooking through convection is cooking by fluid or gases, like the flow of hot air while indirect grilling. Radiation is cooking by "a form of electromagnetic energy that is directed at the food" like a microwave or radiant heat from a broiler or toaster. Infrared burners, like the Infrared Turkey Fryer, stop airflow to stop convection and produce only radiant heat. They "generate much higher temperatures than normal grills and can heat up much faster." It "causes browning and caramelization on the surface of meats" through a process called "the Maillard reaction." The Turkey Fryer has a metal basket holding the meat and sits inside a metal drum.
A gas flame on the outside of the drum produces only infrared heat.
I don't recall the cooking time for the turkey, but it was faster than it would have been if cooked in the oven. It did provide a beautifully browned bird and freed up our oven for other things.
I personally like really moist turkey. It was cooked a little longer than would be my preference, but it it was very evenly cooked. I did miss have the stuffing that would normally be inside an oven-cooked turkey.
I asked Rachael if I could borrow it and try some other types of meats. My next project was a leg of lamb.
The lamb leg was very long and did not come close to fitting inside the Fryer. I finally resorted to using a hatchet to cut-off part of the bone so that it would fit.
The lamb leg did not fit evenly in the Fryer (it leaned to the side)
and I was not able to place the thermometer in the meatiest part of the leg as I otherwise would not be able to read it.
The consequence was that the lamb was unevenly cooked.
Part of it was quite well done and parts of it were very rare. However, it did cook very quickly and the lamb was great.
Next, I tried leg of goat.
I used much of the
but omitted, intentionally, the inserted garlic and lardoons, and unintentionally, the dry rub that went on it after the marinade. Conscious of the uneven grilling of the lamb, I made an effort to center the goat in the Fryer using sticks and twisties.
It worked very well. The meat cooked quickly, evenly
and was amazingly juicy and flavorful. Judy thought the goat taste was a little strong, but I thought it was incredibly good.
It was nice and rare, the marinade had soaked in and provided great spice, and it was a little stronger than lamb, but I think the flavor was very close to lamb. Lamb is one of my favorite meats, so being able to have goat that tasted like this was a big triumph. Score a big thumbs up for the Turkey Fryer.
Finally, I cooked some beef ribs in it on Sunday. I did no advance preparation. Right before putting them in the Turkey Fryer, I put Corky's dry rub on several, Commissary barbecue sauce on others, and on a couple, I used banana sauce that was given to me for Christmas by Andrew. I just laid the beef ribs against the outside of the metal basket
and put them in the Fryer to cook. They cooked evenly and quickly
and turned out quite well, considering I did no advance preparation like marinade or boiling of the ribs.
In summary, the Turkey Fryer is a great way to grill. It cooks faster than my outdoor gas grill, it cooks more evenly, and I don't have to worry about the flames burning the food in the Fryer. It is limited space-wise and it does require a little more clean-up than the grill, but I'm hoping I'll be able to use it some more before Rachael demands it back.