Deep Fat Frying
To cook things quickly and evenly on all sides while completely immersed in fat, keeping food moist.
If you've got a deep fryer, this is almost a no brainer. If you don't have a deep fryer, a dutch oven or heavy commercial pot paired with a fry thermometer will do. You'll also need a spider or slotted spoon to pull the food out or place it in.
- Heat the oil. Make sure it's up to temperature using a fry thermometer.
- Place a significantly smaller amount of food than you think can fit, into the oil. If you're using a deep fryer, check the manufacturers reccomendations. As long as your food doesn't have a wet batter, you can place it in the basket or spyder/spoon/etc and lower the basket into the oil. If it does have a wet batter, you'll need to lower your basket (if applicable) and carefully place what you're frying into the oil as close to the surface of the oil as possible.
- If the food is floating and it shouldn't be, hold it down with the spoon/spider or place another fry basket inside of the lowered fry basket.
- Periodically shake the basket if you've got one, or stir it with the spider. This will ensure that the food doesn't stick together (usually)
- If you're cooking a non meat product, you can usually tell by the exterior color (if you chose your temperature wisele) if the food is done. If it's a meat product, check the internal temperature to make sure you are where you should be. If the item is on the brink of over browning and your internal temperature is not quite up to where it should be, finish it off in a 350 oven.
- Place the cooked items on a couple paper towels.
- Season Immediately
If done correctly, deep fried food is not greasy or heavy, and can be moderately healthy. Greasy deep fried food can be attributed in it's entirety to the person working the basket.
When food is dropped into a deep fryer, the hot oil should boil the liquid on the surface of the food creating a small layer of steam around the surface of the food. If the oil was not allowed to come up to temperature, or too much food was dropped in at one time, the oil temperature surrounding the food drops to the point where it can't maintain the steam layer, and the oil soaks right in.
Choosing the appropriate temperature is an important step. One's immediate tendency might be to crank up the heat for things that are frozen or unusually large. This is the opposite of what you should do. If the outside is heavily browned and the center is still raw, you've got a problem on your hands. Use a higher temperature for smaller quickly cooked things so the outside can crisp up by the time the inside is done, and use a lower temperature for frozen or large things, where the internal temperature is going to need a lot longer to come up.
This is also one of the most dangerous cooking methods. Significantly overheated oil can erupt into a fiery inferno almost instantly. Dropping any significant amount of water (or ice) into a container of hot oil is usually enough to get the oil to atomize. Atomized oil is extremely combustible and if it comes in contact with the flame or element from your stove, your entire kitchen (and you) could be engulfed in flames in a matter of seconds. If you have *any* flare ups while deep frying, quickly grab a kitchen towel large enough to cover the pan, run it under the faucet, wring it out, and cover the pot with it. If some oil bubbles over the side (shame on you for overfilling) and ignites, dump salt or baking soda (NOT FLOUR!) on it, and it will go out instantly.