Episode 35 “Fry Day”
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During the summer our family has a tradition called “Fry Day.” We make fried foods several times during the summer. It is a type of project meal that is as much about the preparation as it is about eating.
You want to use a high smoke point oil because it will not oxidize at the temperatures required for frying. Most recipes fry at 350-375 degrees Fahrenheit. I like to use peanut oil. If you have peanut allergies, canola or shortening both work too. When you are done frying, strain the oil in a fine mesh strainer lined with a coffee filter. You can store the oil in the refrigerator or freezer and reuse it several times.
I have used an electric deep fryer. Pros- You can set it for a specific temperature. Cons- It can take a long time to heat up and tends to lose temperature as you add food. It is also difficult to clean.
I prefer to use an enameled cast iron Dutch oven (like LeCruset.) It works especially well on gas stoves because you can regulate the temperature with the flame. I have used Dutch ovens on electric stoves too.
You will want a candy thermometer with a Dutch oven so you can see the temperature.
If you are reusing the oil, you want to start with foods that do not have strong flavors or odors. I like to start with corn dogs or donuts. We always do funnel cakes on the 4th of July and then I move on to French fries, fried chicken and end the summer with fried fish or shrimp. Once you have used it for fish you will want to throw away the oil.
Smitten Kitchen has a good recipe for French fries that she adapted from Cooks Illustrated. You can find the recipe here.