Y'all, Southern Living has a new cookbook and it's all about frying! The Way to Fry is the new bible on frying food -- NOT THAT WE'RE DOING THAT ALL THE TIME. (Wink.) Just, you know, in case once every 300 years or so you want to fry your food, here's a handy guide.
One of the cookbook's authors, Southern Living editor Norman King, was on the radio program Hot Grease recently with his top tips for frying food. I ran for my pen to scribble them down -- then went looking for more deep frying wisdom. Here are 10 tips for frying golden deliciousness.
- Fry with grapeseed oil. This is King's favorite oil for frying. He likes it even better than peanut oil, which is more traditional. Whatever you use, it should be an oil with a high smoke point. Canola and safflower are other good options.
- Use a spider. Not the insect! A spider is a strainer spoon that lets you scoop food out of the oil without collecting any of that oil (also known as a skimmer). Be sure you get one with a stainless steel handle -- never use a bamboo or wood handle.
- Use a candy thermometer. "Temperature is very important," King says. "The difference between 350 and 360 is huge" in terms of how quickly food browns. If you're following a recipe and you're a novice, that accuracy is especially helpful.
- King recommends frying in a 12-inch cast iron skillet. He likes pans by Lodge, especially. As an alternative, he says enamelware dutch ovens are good, too. And King recommends using Southern Living's The Way to Fry -- of course!
- Bon Appetit suggests sprinkling a little bit of salt into the oil to keep it from splattering. But just a pinch! Salt can lower the smoke point of your oil.
- On the other hand, Gourmet suggests not salting your food before frying it. Sprinkle salt on your fried food right after you pull it from the oil, when it's most likely to stick.
- Work in small batches. Bon Appetit points out that your oil loses heat when you put in too much food at once.
- Something I learned the hard way: Make sure the food you're frying is dry, dry, dry. You don't want a drop of water on it, or it'll splatter.
- You can re-use your fry oil, but be careful because it will have already started breaking down. Let it cool completely, strain well, and then keep in the refrigerator (not out on the counter). Never mix old oil with new oil. Used oil doesn't last forever, so sniff it before reusing, and if it smokes at a regular temperature, throw it out.
- Minimize the fry smell in your home by using your hood vent on high and opening a window. Keeping a few small bowls of ammonia around the house or simmering a cinnamon stick in water are also supposed to help.
Just for fun, check out all the crazy foods King fries in his weekly Southern Living column, "Deep Fried Fridays."
Do you have any deep frying tips to add?
Image via thebittenword.com/Flickr