Like any day this month, I drove into work still wiping the sleep out of my eyes. As I got out of the car I smelled one of the best aromas you can possibly dream of and realized this day would be unlike any other day at the Southwest Airlines Dallas Maintenance Hangar. Our Maintenance Employees had already begun cooking for their Annual Turkey Fry. I had no idea where they were set up; all I had to do was follow my nose.
“We do this every year to provide an early Thanksgiving meal to our Fellow Coworkers and Friends,” said Dallas Structural Mechanic Jonathan Guevara. “It’s a pleasure to do this for the Company and for our Maintenance Employees.” As one of the main cooks and mastermind behind the day’s festivities, Jonathan gave me a full rundown of what all goes into preparing for their Annual Turkey Fry.
To make sure they had enough food to go around, a total of 90 birds had been cleaned and trimmed the day before. With a very strict schedule of how long each bird takes to cook, Jonathan arrived to work at 4:30 a.m. to fire up the fryers so that the oil would be hot and ready for the first round of frying!
It was definitely a sight to be seen. They had nine fryers going all at once. Each bird needed a cook time of four minutes per pound. With an average weight of 12 lbs per turkey, that means each one would take on average an hour to cook, give or take a few minutes. The guys had a genius system to keep all the turkeys on schedule; they wanted to avoid taking them out before they were properly cooked all the way through, ultimately avoiding the chance of burning them. One Employee acted as the designated time keeper. He had his iPhone setup with specific timers and labeled each alarm with the fryer it pertained to. I realized this was a pretty serious piece to the turkey frying puzzle, because the guys would find themselves in the middle of a very in-depth conversation on their opinions about the Cowboys, and then all of a sudden an alarm would go off. The alarm sounded like they were based at a nuclear missile silo and the president had just pushed the button. It was great to see the entire group of guys spring to action. Two of them would run over to snatch the bird from the boiling grease; another couple of guys would begin preparing the next turkey.
Every now-and-then the guys would throw some french fries and chicken wings into one of the fryers after a turkey had just been removed. This was a treat for those cooking, and also helped them keep their paws off the main prize, those succulent fried flightless birds. Overall, they cooked 90 turkeys and fed around a thousand Employees throughout the entire day, including the Graveyard shift.
The Maintenance Department provided the turkeys for the Annual Fry and the Employees brought all the fixings. Trust me, there was a little bit of everything, and it was all so good!
So, the smell was out of this world but it couldn’t hold a candle to the taste. These guys really put a lot of time and effort into this; and it showed. When you are cooking for this many people there has to be a battle plan. They came at this like generals and the only casualties were the turkeys, but they were so good they deserved a twenty-one gun salute. Now all the fryers have been cleaned and stored; but I can’t get it all out of my head. I guess I’ll just have to wait until next year for another helping!