Next week, a once-in-a-millenium convergence brings two holidays together.

Hanukkah, the Jewish faith’s Festival of Lights, begins this year on the eve of Thanksgiving, Nov. 27.

Since both holidays have an abundance of traditional foods, celebrating both of them simultaneously could lead to serious culinary overload.

There are areas where the two traditions dovetail, though, so it’s possible to have one dish that represents both Hanukkah and Thanksgiving.

Even Thanksgiving’s main course, turkey, can fit into a Hanukkah menu when it’s cooked Cajun style.

Many of Hanukkah’s traditional foods are fried, especially potato pancakes and jelly doughnuts, making Cajun-style fried turkey the perfect bridge between the two holidays.

There’s even a new method of turkey frying that fits the Hanukkah narrative.

Hanukkah commemorates the miracle of a one-day supply of oil lasting for eight days.

A new oil-less turkey fryer does a similar, though not theologically miraculous, job of extending a small amount of oil to accomplish what previously took several gallons.

The oil-less fryers, available in the barbecue section of home-improvement or other big-box stores under brand names such as the Char-Broil Big Easy, use a combination of propane and infrared heat to quickly produce a turkey that rivals the deep-fried bird’s combination of crispy, brown skin and juicy meat.

The oil-less method cooks a whole turkey in 10 minutes per pound, less than half the time of oven roasting. The shorter cooking time means less time for the meat to overcook and dry out.

The new method isn’t totally oil-less; it requires about 2 tablespoons of corn, canola oil or olive oil, which is rubbed on the turkey’s skin.

The radiant infrared heat “fries” the oil and the outside of the turkey while the interior cooks. Because the turkey cooks vertically instead of horizontally in a roasting pan, white and dark meat both get cooked evenly.

As in a conventional turkey fryer, the turkey can be marinated or injected with spices and seasonings. While this will provide a flavor boost, it isn’t necessary for creating a succulent turkey. The high heat of the infrared burner sears the skin to hold in moisture just as being dunked in boiling oil does.

The turkey fried in an oil-less cooker might not differ much from a deep-fried one, but the cooking experience is much less fraught with potential danger.

According to the U.S. Fire Administration, almost 4,300 cooking-related injuries happen on Thanksgiving, more than double the number of residential cooking fires than an average day.

Not surprisingly, Texas leads the nation in turkey-frying accidents. Because the oil-less fryer does not involve gallons of boiling oil, there is no danger of splattering or spilling hot oil. While children and pets still should be kept away from anything hot enough to cook a 20-pound bird, the oil-less fryer poses much less of a danger at family gatherings.

The new oil-less fryers have their advantages even after the leftovers are wrapped up and the guests go home. Conventional turkey fryers use anywhere from 3 to 5 gallons of oil, and it’s a mess to dispose of it or store it. The oil-less fryers get wiped clean, and the basket even goes in the dishwasher.

The initial cost, less than $100, seems like a good investment when peanut oil, the preferred oil for conventional turkey fryers, costs around $10 a gallon. The new fryers also are equally good for cooking ribs, pork roasts and even side dishes, making them useful long past Hanukkah and Thanksgiving.


Louisiana-style ‘Fried’ Turkey

SERVES: 8-12

  • 12- to 16-pound turkey
  • 3 tablespoons Peanut oil
  • Creole Seasoning dry rub

Remove the giblets, neck, etc. and any plastic or metal ties used to hold the legs or cavity in place.

Brine the turkey overnight, if desired.

Remove the turkey from the brine about 1 hour before cooking, rinse and pat dry with paper towels.

Apply the dry rub between the skin and meat, if desired. Applying the dry rub on the outside will flavor the skin and not the meat.

Insert a meat thermometer in the breast so that the tip does not touch the bone and the dial is easily read when the basket is in the cooker. Place the turkey in an oil-less fryer.

Plan to cook the turkey for about 10 minutes per pound. Monitor the temperature closely as the last planned 20 minutes begin.

When the thermometer registers about 5 degrees below the target temperature of 165F degrees, turn off the cooker and remove the cooking basket with the turkey in it. Place the basket in a shallow jelly roll pan and let it rest for about 15 minutes while the turkey continues to cook from internal heat.

Remove the turkey from the cooking basket.

(SOURCE: Recipe courtesy Char-Broil)


Prime Rib Roast

SERVES: 6-8

  • 5-pound rib roast
  • 1 tablespoon sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper

Place the beef roast in the cooking basket. Insert a reliable ovenproof meat thermometer into the center of the meatiest part of roast.

Place the roast in an oil-less fryer and turn on the unit.

Cook the roast to a to an internal temp of 135 degrees for rare and 145 degrees for medium-rare.

NOTE: To check the temperature of the roast, lift the roast from time to time and use an instant-read thermometer inserted into the roast so that it avoids fat and bone to check for doneness and even roasting.

When the internal temperature is about 5-10 degrees below the target you desire, remove the roast and place it on a plate or tray, cover it with aluminum foil and a kitchen towel.

Allow the roast to rest about 20 minutes while the internal temperature continues cooking the roast to the target temp.

Slice and serve the roast.

(SOURCE: Recipe courtesy Char-Broil)

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