Medium Rare's Turkey Fry event at Nationals Park in Washington DC, two years ago. Credit: Emily Duever, On the Marc Media

Medium Rare restaurant will be hosting its 15th annual turkey fry event Thursday where families can get their turkeys deep fried for free.

The fry will be held from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the restaurant, located at 3500 Connecticut Avenue NW in Washington, D.C.  

“[The event] has been going on now for 16 years in the DC area, and it addresses a very large loophole in our current food pantry system and even our feel-good moments of handing out raw turkeys to families to have for Thanksgiving,” said Mark Bucher, co-owner of Medium Rare and founder of Feed the Fridge.

In recent years, the turkey fry has also become a fundraiser for Feed the Fridge, which Bucher started in 2020. Feed the Fridge “has provided more than 700,000 meals and paid local restaurants $3.5 million in donated funds to prepare them,” according to its officials.

The DC-based nonprofit arranges to feed people and distribute meals throughout the metro DC area, including locations in DC, Montgomery and Prince George’s counties. The nonprofit plans to expand into locations in Virginia in 2023, according to its officials.

In Montgomery County, Feed the Fridge’s initiatives cover locations such as: Gaithersburg High School in Gaithersburg, Albert Einstein High School in Kensington, Mary’s Center in Silver Spring, Takoma Park Recreation Center in Takoma Park and Community Wellness Hub at Germantown.

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Gaithersburg High School Principal Cary Dimmick described the school’s partnership with Feed the Fridge as “amazing” and said Feed the Fridge installed a refrigerator in the school’s premises a year ago.

“Feed the Fridge installed the refrigerator at our front door entrance, and it’s stocked daily with food from local restaurants,” Dimmick said. “Our students and families access the food daily and by lunchtime, it is empty. We love the variety of food they provide.”

Dimmick said many communities could benefit from the services provided by Feed the Fridge’s initiatives.

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“Just this week, they offered Thanksgiving meals to the community,” Dimmick said. “It’s a great program.”

The event is also intended to help families suffering from “food insecurity,” where they lack three key elements in frying turkeys, Bucher said. 

“One is the confidence and ability to safely cook and handle a raw turkey,” Bucher said. “Two is the cookware, pots and pans needed to cook the turkey, and three, most are unlikely to have the proper utility, meaning gas or electric, to do it.”

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During the event, families can come up to get their turkeys deep fried for free. Bucher said as many as 600 to 1,000 turkeys are fried during the Thanksgiving Day Fry. 

“This is something we’ve always done and will continue to do, and hopefully raise awareness in an effort to possibly change or adapt our current food bank and food pantry system in this country, at Feed the Fridge,” Bucher said.

Bucher also shared safety tips to prevent fires for those interested in deep frying turkeys on their own:

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  1. Deep-fry your turkeys outside on the driveway and far away from your home or anything else that can catch fire.
  2. Wear long pants, protective clothing, protective eyewear and protective gloves when deep-frying.
  3. Preheat the oil to 350-degree Fahrenheit. Don’t fill the oil past the max-fill line on the turkey fryer pot.
  4. Ensure your turkey is completely thawed before dropping it in the oil. There should be no ice left in the center of your turkey.
  5. Drop the turkey in slowly. The oil will bubble up and splatter so those cooking should be prepared for it. 
  6. Do not drop the entire turkey in the oil when it’s splattering as that can cause a fire.
  7. Pull the turkey out after 20 to 25 minutes. Use an instant read thermometer to check between the leg and the thigh to see if it’s about 270 degrees, so you’re good to go.
  8. It’s best to wait until the turkey cools down after a couple of hours, as opposed to serving it piping hot right out of the fryer.
  9. Make sure you have a kitchen grease fire approved extinguisher on hand, instead of a regular fire extinguisher if a fire does occur.
  10.  If a fire does ignite, do not put water on it. It is best to use the fire extinguisher on hand or baking soda.

Apps Bichu reports on growth and justice. She can be reached at apps.bichu@bethesdamagazine.com