roasted chicken
Deep frying your Thanksgiving turkey is popular for a reason – it happens to be the same reason that Lipitor is popular, but that’s beside the point.  Unfortunately, every year, 10 million* Americans start house fires from attempting to fry their bird.  And in addition to the arson hazard, deep frying a turkey requires a ton of oil, which, let’s face it, you’re not going to filter and reuse.

Luckily, the folks at Char-Broil have created The Big Easy Oil-Less Infrared Turkey Deep Fryer, and were kind enough to loan me a unit for testing.  This cooker looks and works just like a conventional turkey fryer, except it uses no oil.  Instead, a ring of gas burners heat up the inside of the cooking chamber, roasting your meat evenly and allowing the fat to drip down, with no risk of flame-ups. 

Rather than test the machine with a turkey, though, I thought I’d try out a few other dishes.  Check out my video review after the jump.

First, I roasted a whole chicken, along with red potatoes on skewers.  This was hands-down the best chicken I’ve ever roasted at home: super-crisp skin, even cooking and juicy meat.  Unlike roasting a chicken in the oven, the skin was crisp and evenly browned on all sides.  Next, I roasted a whole leg of lamb (pre-seasoned, care of Trader Joe’s).  I hung the lamb in the center of the cooker using a pair of metal skewers.  Although the roasting time was about the same as if I had cooked the lamb in a standard oven, it developed a much nicer crust in The Big Easy.  And, cleanup was much simpler too – all the fat dripped into a non-stick tray at the bottom. 

Finally, I put the unit to the test as a bread oven.  I placed a mound of dough (premade, thanks again, Trader Joes) on a preheated salt block and baked it for 35 minutes.  I was hoping for wood-fired oven results – an intense crust and super-quick baking time, but unfortunately, the result was identical to what you’d expect from a standard oven.  Based on my measurements with an infrared thermometer, the inside of the cooking chamber only reaches between 350°F and 450°F – a wood burning pizza oven can be upwards of 900°F.  Still, considering that this $99 device was only designed for turkey frying, it may not be so single-purpose after all!

Char-Broil “Big Easy” Oil-Less Turkey Fryer – $94.99 [] | HSDD treatment |