Guest Author - Sandie Jarrett
Although we don't eat deep fried foods often, we love them just the same. Deep frying foods produce a crisp, golden brown exterior and a moist, delicious interior. The difference between Deep Frying and Pan Frying is that to deep fry, the food must be completely submerged in hot oil. Also, deep fried food is usually coated with breading or batter, which acts as a barrier between the oil and the food and also adds flavor and texture. Who doesn't love that crisp, crunchy texture of deep fried shrimp or fish?
Deep frying can be safe and easy, just remember to follow the rules!
When using a propane burner on a stand, make sure that it is on a stable surface, preferably concrete. Use the pan and basket, as supplied by the manufacturer. NEVER use a propane turkey fryer setup indoors! NEVER! I may repeat this again it is that important!
Make sure that you follow the directions, especially for filling the oil receptacle, and the precautions that came with your fryer/burner combination.
When using an electric deep fryer always follow manufacturer's directions, especially for filling the oil receptacle.
Use the fryer basket whenever possible. It makes immersing and removing food easier and safer.
Fry foods at the recommended temperature.
Don't over fill the fryer or pan with food. Best results are achieved when the food is surrounded by hot oil
Remember that oil is a fuel and can catch on fire and burn! Therefore, NEVER use a propane turkey fryer setup indoors and NEVER leave it unattended!
Hot oil can burn your skin, so be careful. Heat resistant gloves (not traditional oven mitts) are great to use when frying.
How to Deep Fry
First, read all recipe directions and any manufacturer's instructions before beginning! Have everything ready to fry because once the oil reaches temperature, you will want to begin frying.
Never leave hot oil unattended! NEVER!
A cookie or baking sheet lined with paper towels is handy for turning out hot foods to drain. I use a cookie cooling rack on top of a paper towel lined baking sheet for larger pieces of food.
I like to sprinkle on any dry seasonings as soon as the hot food is turned out onto the draining surface. The residual oil helps seasonings stick to the food!
Best results are achieved when you use a thermometer to check the temperature of the oil before and during frying. Fat must be between 325 degrees F and 375 degrees F to prepare crisp, moist, delicious results. If the temperature is too low, the food will be greasy and will take too long to cook. If the oil is too hot, the exterior (breading) will burn while the interior won't be properly cooked.
Once the oil is at the proper temperature, begin to carefully add food. The food will immediately lower the temperature of the oil. The more food you add, the longer it will take for the temperature to return. When frying fish or chicken, I like to add a couple of pieces, and then wait a few seconds for the temperature to return, and then add a few more pieces. You can use long handled tongs if you like. The quantity of food you can fry at one time depends upon how large your fryer basket is!
If you are using a skillet, a single layer of food is best.
Some foods require turning once the underside turns golden brown. Again, long handled tongs work great for this!
Always use the best oil you can for frying. For most foods, Safflower or Canola Oil work best. They have a relatively high smoke point and are mild in flavor. Peanut oil is popular when you need a large amount of oil because it has a high smoke point and it is relatively inexpensive.
The smoke point is the temperature at which the oil begins to emit smoke and thus changes to a darker color and the flavor becomes unpleasant. The second the oil starts to smoke, turn off the heat source! Let the oil cool to the proper temperature before turning the heat back on. Don't add food when the oil is too hot. The exterior will over brown and the interior won't cook properly.
Smoke Points and Percent of Saturated Fat for a Few Popular Oils
.450 degrees F
.6 percent Saturated Fat
.450 degrees F
.9 percent Saturated Fat
Grapeseed Oil.........445 degrees F
13 percent Saturated Fat
.435 degrees F
.6 percent Saturated Fat
How can you tell if your food is done? Check the interior temperature with an instant read thermometer for best results.
Poultry and Seafood
Poultry legs, thighs, and wings should be cooked to an internal temperature of 180 degrees F. The meat should be firm, opaque, and easily release from the bone.
Poultry Breasts should be cooked to an internal temperature of 170 degrees F. The meat should be firm and opaque and have a nice white color.
Fish should be cooked to an internal temperature of 145 degrees F. It should be moist and easily separate into segments.
Shrimp should turn slightly pink and the flesh should become pearly and opaque.
Scallops should turn milky white and be firm and moist.
The breading should be golden brown and the vegetables should be firm yet tenderness.
Fried Potato Wedges and French Fries
Potato wedges should be golden brown. Double frying produces the best results. To double fry, the potatoes are cooked in 320 degree F oil until pale in color and floppy. This takes 2 3 minutes, depending upon how thick the potato wedges are. Remove the par-cooked fries from the oil and drain on paper towels. Cool to room temperature.
Next, heat the oil to 375 degrees F. Re-immerse the potato wedges into the hot oil and fry until crisp and golden brown. Depending upon how thick the potatoes are, this could take 2 4 minutes. Remove from oil and drain on a metal cookie sheet fitted with a rack. Immediately season the hot fries as desired. Put cookie sheet/rack with the cooked and seasoned fries into a preheated 200 degree F oven to hold while you fry the remaining potatoes. Serve immediately!