Jogging My Thanksgiving Memory

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Jogging My Thanksgiving Memory

By Paula Deen

People always ask me about what my Thanksgivings were like when I was growin’ up.  The truth is, I can’t seem to remember!  This got me worrying that maybe my elevator wasn’t going all the way to the top.  Finally, I worked up the nerve to ask my Aunt Peggy—whose been with me since the day I was born—what my first Thanksgivings were like.  Aunt Peggy saw my worry and laughed.  “You don’t remember Thanksgivings at River Bend, because you didn’t have ‘em,” she said. 

My family lived at River Bend up until I was 10 years old.  It was a little mini resort just outside of Albany, Ga., that my Grandmother and Granddaddy Paul ran, complete with motel, cabins, a restaurant and even a skatin’ rink.  While daddy worked at a nearby car dealership, Momma would help her parents out with the restaurant.  The restaurant was open for Thanksgiving for folks who were traveling but still wanted a special meal.  We made certain they were taken care of before we ever worried about ourselves.  Sure, we’d eventually get some fried turkey, Momma’s cornbread stuffing and a slice of pie, but we’d have to sneak it on a quick lunch break during the workday.

After we moved from River Bend, our Thanksgivings transformed into long, wonderful family events, lasting for 4 or 5 days at a stretch.  They went on like that up until I opened my first restaurant—The Lady in the Best Western—and then my Thanksgivings were over.  Ka-put.  I guess you could say at that point I’d come full circle.

I broke that cycle about five years ago, when I started hosting Thanksgivings in my home surrounded by friends and family.  I’ll fry the turkey—the star of the show—and everybody else will bring a side dish to show off their recipes and to take the pressure off me so I can really enjoy a beautiful meal.  Even though I don’t remember much about those early Thanksgivings I spent working, I guess I did learn something: I learned to appreciate the gift of time, and most important, family.

My family has made a tradition of frying our turkey, and while it may seem like a lot of trouble, I assure you it’s so very easy if you follow the tips of an expert turkey fryer such as myself.


Paula’s Deep-Fried Turkey

2 tablespoon of your favorite dry rub
2 tablespoon Paula Deen’s House Seasoning
1 (10-pound) Turkey
3-5 gallons peanut oil

Cooks Note: To measure the amount of oil needed to fry the turkey, place turkey in fryer, add water to top of turkey, remove the turkey and the water line will indicate how much oil will be needed to fry your turkey. Having too much oil can cause a fire. The pot should not be more than 3/4 full or the oil could overflow when the turkey is added.


Wash bird inside and out, and allow to drain. Rub turkey all over with House Seasoning. Coat turkey with dry rub. Allow the bird to sit until it reaches room temperature.

Heat peanut oil in a turkey fryer or a very, very large stockpot to 350 degrees F. Lower turkey into hot oil, very carefully, making sure it is fully submerged. Fry turkey for 3 minutes per pound plus 5 minutes per bird. Remove turkey from oil and drain on paper towels.


Safety tips:

The turkey fryer needs to be outside on a flat surface. Do not deep fry a turkey in a garage or a covered carport.

Always keep a fire extinguisher (rated for grease fires) nearby.

Large oven mitts or fireplace gloves must be worn.

Always wear eye protection and full face protection would be even better.

When lowering the turkey into the oil, turn off the flame.

And do not allow those guests, especially children and pets near the turkey cooker.

Follow these safety tips and use common sense and your turkey frying experience will be safe and successful.

Recipe courtesy Paula Deen

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Reader Comments:


When I learned what Food Network et al did to you, I was mad enough to yell at all of them! We were on vacation and your shows were on RECORD on my DVR. All of a sudden they disappeared. My daughter had introduced me to QVC years ago and we first "met" you there. So the first thing I did when we got home was go out and buy a Paula Deen knife so I could show my support in a monetary way at least. I just found your site so I can get a little bit of a Paula Deen fix. I do miss hearing your voice, though. We don't watch The Food Network anymore. I loved to watch you interact with your sons and guests! You showed all of them such sincere love and respect. On my "Bucket List" is a pilgrimage to Georgia to the Lady and Sons Restaurant . At 73, with grandchildren to transport to school, I may not make it, but it's on the list anyway! Much love to you, Paula! Ruth Rutherford

By Ruth Rutherford on August 24, 2013


You look gorgeous in these pictures. Love that color top you have on! We've had many a fried turkey for Thanksgiving and Christmas and they are delicious!

By Brandi Johnson on July 19, 2013


I am so glad to have found this web site duuuhhhhhhhhh. I have been keeping up with you on food network. But this site is so personal I LOVE IT !!! Will be here all the time now. I love your style, your accent, your smile and your boys. I have two boys and a girl and they all cook. My son Gary is married to a nurse and he teasingly says she burns burns water making kool aid. So she leaves 9/10ths of the cooking to him. Maggie Diehl

By Maggie Diehl on November 18, 2012


i love your tv show in good food your cook i live and watertown ny me mom and dad which your show

By jonathan wilcox on November 17, 2012


Paula, you look fantastic - so slim and trim. You inspire me! I have a couple of Thanksgiving memories that stand out. My grandmother always had a large electric roaster she baked the dressing in and she would add a couple of hens in case we ran out of turkey. And I loved getting a tiny sliver of pumpkin pie so I could have a large dollup of whipped cream! But I love a big piece of pie now! I am so happy you have the opportunity these days to really enjoy Thanksgiving day. Much love.

By Angela Lopez on November 17, 2012


paula, what are you injecting the turkey w/? lol

By Wile E on November 16, 2012


Paula your my cook

By Anonymous on November 15, 2012


Made the cola basted ham for thanksgiving for the last three years and everyone has loved it including the kids. Fabulous recipe.

By Lynda B on November 15, 2012


First I wanted to say how much I love being in the kitchen with you everyday, several of your recipes have become my familys favorite, like your bacon spinach quich, I have to make that at least 2-3 months, and your pecan pie, and crock pot mac n cheese are my families Thanksgiving day traditions now. Second I wanted to share with you an essay my 9 yr old daughter wrote, titles, Let us be thankful. Let us be thankful... for the little things that most people think are big, I did too, until a few months ago. I use to run in and out the door, slamming it each time, until I didn't have a door. I use to jump out of my bed, not even making it, and it not bother me, until I didn't have a bed. I use to fuss at my mom, when she ask me to clean my room, until I didn't have a room. I use to throw my toys and clothes all over the floor, untill I didn't have any toys and clothes, or room. I also use to waste food, sometimes not eating but half my sandwich, or drinking half my milk, the rest getting poured down the sink, until I didn't have a kitchen or a table or food to eat or milk to drink. You see my step daddy lost his job, a few months ago. Then after that, the bank came and said we had to move, they told us our landlord had died, and his kids didn't pay them, it didn't matter that my mommy paid our rent, we still had to go. We lost everything that day, we had no home, we put our clothes in the car and left. So no more home, no more clothes, no more toys, no more food, nothing. Momma said that we just have to pray, God had a plan. So we prayed, and prayed some more, and prayed more, and when I thought we had prayed enough, momma said come on lets pray some more. God led a very special family, to let us stay with them. Momma says it had to be God, who else could let twelve people stay in one house, and not kill each other. God gave us a home, a few weeks ago, nothing fancy, one of my brothers has to sleep in the livingroom on a cot. We have had to sleep on air mattresses, cots and sleeping bags. It has been fun, kinda liking camping out, but no fire. My daddy is still not working, he hasn't found a job. So we may not have everything, everyone else has. We may not get to go out to eat or go other places, like alot of you. We may not have a kitchen full of food, some days we may not even have bread or milk. I may not have a room full of toys. We are starting over, momma says we get to have a do over, she says lot of people wish they could. We just are, and thats ok, momma says God has a plan, we may not understand when, or why or how, but he does; So this Thanksgiving and Christmas, I am thankful for the little things, a home, clothes, bed, food, and toys. God made sure I always had the big things with me, the whole time. The whole time I had God, I had my mommy, I had my daddy, I had my brother's, I had my sister, I had my church, and my church family. You may think that big house, or that fancy car, or the clothes you wear, or even the food you eat, or toys you play with, are what's important, maybe it is, to you. But not to me, what's important is and always be, in my heart. The little things, don't seem to matter much anymore, they are just little

By Lisa Fox on November 14, 2012


Paula, My daughter and I started a number of years ago using one of your out-of- this world receipes for our dinner. We started with "Surprise Sweet Potato Balls" and have done a different one every year since. Another year it was your Pumpkin Gingerbread Trifle, this year it's going to be your Corn Casserole. Every one is a winner and still used through out the year. Just not all at the same time! I really admire how you have handled your health problems. You are an inspriation to many, including our household. My hubby has diabetes and I am enjoying all the Dean Family shows with healthy foods. You all are such great role models! Thank you for sharing with us! "With love and "best wishes" from my kitchen table to yours! Kathie Pfeiffer

By katharine s. pfeiffer on November 14, 2012


I have eaton fried turkey but I much prefer the taste of my wife's smoked turkey. It takes longer but is so good. Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family. We love watching all of you on tv

By Steven Madison on November 14, 2012


You look so goodl

By Anonymous on November 14, 2012


i have been watching you paul since your first started, and love you very much.. i am so glad that you have fun, don't let other people change who you are, i hope your boys realize how very special you are, you bring happiness to my life, and i can't make it thru a day without watching you, you remind me very much of my mother, and relate to your southern humor as i am from the south, i love to cook, and i think it is funny how they pick at you for using butter, sugar, etc.. when julia child was really the queen of butter, french cooking etc.. and she used sugar in everthing, it is much better for you then the fake chemical sugar now days, aspartane is the worst thing on this earth.. and has caused many deaths.. so whatever you do, if you are on a diet stay away from fake sugars.. use steiva, or something like that, chew xylitol natural gum.. as all gums have aspartane now. anyway.. not to sound like i am preaching to you.. but i love you and want you to stay around.. love lisa faith

By lisa faith williams on November 14, 2012


Paula, It sounds delish but I would have to be awfully brave to try this; especially needing face protection. Ouch~ I love watching and listening to you, though. You make everything a delight! You are the pride of Savannah!

By Sharon on November 14, 2012


Paula, it sounds delish but I'd have to be brave to cook it like that. I'd leave it to you!

By Anonymous on November 14, 2012


Once turkey is submerged in peanut oil, relight flame to cook until done. Remove bird w/great caution. Turkey should be placed on carving board & set to rest before carving. Let oil cool completely before storing for next use.

By Anonymous on November 14, 2012


send me recipe please from paula seen thanks , mona zook

By mona zook on November 13, 2012


I Luv you Paula, I've been watching you for a long time. I'm diabetic too.

By Glenda Dimas on November 13, 2012



By Doreen. Bernard on November 13, 2012


Thank you are my inspiration smile This is the first year we are frying a turkey and I was so excited to see you had this on your page. I will be following your directions...I use your house seasoning for EVERYTHING. Thanks again for being such a wonderful person and sharing all of your helpful tips ! Kathy

By Kathy Miller on November 13, 2012

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