The steakhouse at 515 8th St. SE will open its kitchen on Thanksgiving Day so neighbors can bring their turkeys to be fried. It will be the second year that the event has been held at the Barracsks Row location, but the eighth year that Medium Rare owner Mark Bucher has spent his Thanksgiving frying other people’s turkeys.
Bucher initially came up with the bring-your-own-turkey event as a way to help locals avoid the safety risks of frying their own turkeys. However, in his first year, he discovered another important reason to continue the Thanksgiving tradition.
“The first year we did it, I went out to my car and there was a thank you note from a homeless family who said there are a lot of places to get free turkeys but they had nowhere to cook it,” he said. “So how could we stop now.”
Bucher and the restaurant managers fried about 300 turkeys last year, he said. Their kitchen, which will be equipped with eight fryers this year, will allow them to cook about 30 turkeys per hour, he said.
Bucher’s kids staff the front of the restaurant where turkey-toting patrons can wait for their bird’s turn in the fryer.
“During the day people hang out in the restaurant,” Bucher said. “We have coffee and hot cider and sometimes people will bring donuts or baked goods. You meet complete strangers and it’s just a magical environment.”
The restaurant will start frying at 11 a.m., and Bucher recommends that patrons get their early to make sure their turkey makes it into one of the fryers.
He also has some recommendations to make sure that the cooking process goes smoothly. Patrons should bring turkeys that are between 8 and 12 pounds, thawed and not marinated or brined. Bucher says that they can’t fry frozen turkeys and marinated turkeys take almost twice as long to cook.
As for Bucher’s turkey, he says he usually gets home between 7:30 and 8 on Thanksgiving, but that his family and coworkers all look forward to the full day of frying.
“It makes for a very hard-fought day, but it’s worth it,” he said. “It’s one of those magical days where everyone kind of slows down in life. It’s become a tradition we look forward to every year.”
Photo via Facebook/ Medium Rare at Barracks Row