I love turkey hunting, and this is my go-to recipe. Most hunters remove the legs, but I find that they add to the richness of the dish. While deep-frying can be messy, it truly makes the best turkey meat I’ve ever tasted. The white meat is moist, the dark meat is flavorful, and the skin is crisp and beautifully browned. —Pat LaFrieda
1 whole wild turkey (12 to 14 lb.), gutted
1 cup packed light or dark brown sugar
1 cup kosher salt
3 gallons vegetable oil, or as needed
In a large stockpot, boil a gallon of water. Add the brown sugar and salt, then stir to dissolve them. Add 1 gallon of cold water and let the brine cool to room temperature. Immerse the turkey in the brine and refrigerate it for 24 hours or overnight. Remove the bird from the brine, rinse it off, and pat it dry.
Fill a turkey fryer halfway with oil and heat the oil until it reaches 350 degrees. Gently lower the turkey into the oil and fry it for about 45 minutes, or until it reaches an internal temperature of 155 degrees (the temperature will rise to the USDA-recommended 165 degrees while the turkey rests). As the turkey cooks, do not let the oil get above 350 degrees. Remove the turkey from the fryer, tent it with foil, and let it rest for 20 to 30 minutes.
3. Carve the turkey, and enjoy with your favorite sides.
Pat LaFrieda is the owner of Pat LaFrieda Meat Purveyors and the author of Meat: Everything You Need to Know. He lives—and hunts—in New Jersey.