When food technologists get together, it’s a good time. The topics always center around food and evaluating products. On September 19th 2011 the local Puget Sound Institute of Technologists had a meeting. The topic of the meeting was “Texas Turkey Shootout” and the speaker was an expert in the sensory & nutritional qualities of food oils: Dr. Clay King, a professor of Food Science at Texas A&M. Dr. King’s has a specialty in frying oil, so it was fitting that the topic was choices of oil to deep fry turkey: cottonseed or peanut oil.
Dr. King and a former student, Bradley Scott, rolled up their sleeves and fried the group two turkeys to taste. A manager at the local FDA, Tom McLean, prepared an oven roasted turkey at home and brought it to the meeting. At the end of the presentation, the group blindly evaluated all three turkeys and voted on their favorite. No one preferred the oven baked turkey. To me it lacked juiciness, however, there could have been some differences due to serving time after cooking. The deep-fried turkeys, injected with Cajun butter marinade, were preferred. I don’t think there was a clear winner on frying oils, but I preferred the cottonseed oil. My piece was amazingly juicy, flavorful & had crisp skin.
Although, food technologists enjoy tasting, we know it’s important to understand differences in ingredients and preparation. For this meeting the presentation was about fats: specifically cottonseed oil. Cottonseed oil is an American product and is an excellent choice for frying. It has a mild nutty flavor, is high in natural antioxidants (tocopherols), enhances/not masks flavor, and is very stable. Some interesting facts about cottonseed oil can be found HERE.
Dr. Clay King’s presentation discussed in great detail the chemical structure of fat, analysis, hydrogenation, trans fat and the use of leftover cooking oil as fuel. It’s great to know that so much thought is going into our foods and our environment.
My husband deep fries a turkey every year for Thanksgiving. I buy the turkey and oil for frying. Peanut oil can be $30-40 to fill the fryer. I found cottonseed oil at our local sports warehouse, but didn’t spend the $60 they were asking. We’ll be using the less expensive peanut oil again this year. Happy Thanksgiving!