Published on November 19th, 2009 | by Greg0
Making Waves and Making Turkeys
It’s that time of year again- when cooking turns into an indoor sport to be taken seriously, after the grill has been set aside for the season. Family gatherings demand travel and they demand turkey, though typically not at the same time. With that in mind we set out to try and find two implements that would make life a little easier- one for the chef on the go looking for something a little different, and an indoor turkey fryer that is safe and easy to use.
We’ll start out with The WaveBox, the world’s first portable microwave. The microwave doesn’t get much love as a serious cooking instrument, but it deserves respect. Generally efficient, kid-friendly, and safer outdoors than open flames, the WaveBox is an ambitious inventor’s sucessful attempt at making the device small and sturdy enough to lug around. You can reheat your leftovers quickly, and without having to watch them like you would a camp stove. You’ll need power of course, and the easiest way is to connect directly to your car’s battery via alligator clips (though you can also use regular AC power). It feels like a bit of a kludge, to be honest, but a cool one.
Less cool- we had some issues with it cutting out in use, normally towards the end of use, and at least one slightly-alarming flash-and-smoke incident. Everything seemed fine after a few minutes of giving the unit a rest though, and it’s possible that it was due to user error (microwaving shoes is never a good idea by the way). Tailgaters and Burning Man veterans should definitely take a look, but backpackers and average campers can pass- it’s as heavy as a normal microwave, built sturdy, but only a bit smaller. It also isn’t quite as powerful- at 600 watts, it can take about 30% longer to cook foods than some directions state or than you may be used to, and our results were uneven at best with popcorn coming out half-unpopped and some sections of pizza being cold despite turning and long cook times. For those in need of a portable microwave, your solution has arrived. But unless you’ve been truly wondering how to fill that microwave-shaped hole in your outdoor equipment set, we wouldn’t suggest it. $250 or so, primarily online, and available in multiple colors.
Let’s say that you plan on cooking indoors for the holidays, though, and feel like turkey (who doesn’t?) You could use any number of methods to make sure your bird comes out right, but only frying will result in the crispy skin and moist meat that make for the tastiest Thanksgiving main courses. We confess to not having fried many large fowl before, and were pretty nervous about doing so, but the Masterbuilt Butterball Professional Series Indoor Turkey Fryer made it seem easy. OK, perhaps that’s a bit too far- but it was easier than most other ways we’ve tried and the results were better and tastier.
Several neat features make this one the best in class- an easy tap drain was included for simple clean-up and a variable thermometer, along with the more normal but still handy view window, fry basket, and built-in odor filter. It takes up a fair bit of space- you won’t want to leave it around on your counter- but is smaller than some other comparable units. A downside, though, is that the fryer can only accommodate 14-pound birds. Even that seems a bit large- but we recommend following the instructions. Cooking time is fast (about four minutes per pound) perhaps the best part of frying, and the built-in digital clock and timer was handy (but could have offered more features perhaps). Masterbuilt and Butterball claim that this is the only indoor-safe unit, and that it uses up to a third less oil; we weren’t able to compare but we’ll take their word for it. It’s still an impressive amount of oil though, more than twenty dollars worth by our measurements! The price is certainly right- around $125- and if you order soon, you’ll still have plenty of time to receive the unit before the big day. One note- the warranty covers only 90 days, a bit short for us, and something to consider when purchasing.