Anatomy of a Dinner Party: a day in the life of a hospitalityaholic

French Fries browsing by tag


Fear of Frying

Thursday, November 12th, 2009

A lot of my friends and neighbors tell me that frying scares them.  I don’t want you to be afraid of anything, so lets discuss frying, shall we?

What frightens you about frying? Are you afraid you will burn yourself?  We have nice little fry pan protectors for that. They are called splatter shields and they look like this little number:

To keep the sparks from flying

To keep the sparks from flying

With this nifty gadget, you reduce your chance of getting nipped by flying grease at least 90%. That’s pretty good. So, we’ve squelched that fear.  Using oven mitts helps, too.

What’s that you say? You are afraid of burning whatever you are trying to fry?  Do you have a recipe?  If you follow your recipe to the very last detail, you should be okay.   You will also need a thermometer, if you aren’t frying in a fryer (which I assume you don’t have if you are afraid to fry).  A thermometer will help keep your frying precise. Remember though, that when the oil reaches the proper temperature, it will immediately fall when you put your food in to fry. Don’t crowd your pot and you should be fine. Putting in too many pieces to fry results in the temperature falling and then you have to wait for it to return to the proper degree.  Plus, crowding keeps you from being able to tell which is browning first so you can flip it.  And that will just frustrate you and you don’t need the stress, Darlings.

A good roll of heavy duty paper towels is something you will want to have on hand, but newspaper or a paper bag works well to drain your fried treats when they are done.  If you need to salt your food, do it as soon as it comes out of the fryer – it will stick much better and sort of melt into your food.

One last thing before we talk about what is good frying cuisine – ventilation.  If you are lucky, and have a fancy hood in your kitchen, then good for you.  If not (like me), you will want to make sure the kitchen windows are open, or, if you have no windows, keep a fan close by.  I know you hate it when the smoke alarm goes off – you have to leave the kitchen and your nice adult beverage to fan that silly gadget. What a buzz kill!

I think you are ready to fry! A great frying 101 food is chicken. Everybody loves fried chicken.  Here’s a great recipe with which to start:

Southern Fried Chicken
This fried chicken recipe makes enough for about 8 people.

  • 2 frying chickens, about 2 1/2 to 3 pounds each, cut into serving pieces
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 cup milk
  • vegetable shortening for frying
  • 1 tablespoon bacon drippings

Wash chicken and pat dry.

In a heavy brown paper bag or large food storage bag, combine the flour and salt and pepper; shake to blend well. Pour the milk into a wide shallow bowl.

Heat 2 to 3 inches of shortening in a deep heavy skillet over medium heat, or electric fry pan set at 375° F. Add the bacon grease. When a drop of water spatters when it hits the hot oil, dip some of the chicken pieces into the milk then place in the bag and shake to coat evenly. Arrange the chicken pieces in the fat, making sure not to overcrowd. Fry the chicken until outside is golden brown and crisp, about 15 to 20 minutes, turning once to brown both sides. Reduce heat to 350° F and fry until cooked through golden brown, about 15 minutes longer. Turn once. Drain chicken on brown paper or paper towels, adding a little more shortening and bacon grease if necessary, setting or regulating the temperature as for the first batch.

Transfer the chicken to a large platter for serving.
Serves 8.

Yum, yum!

How about some french fries to go with your chicken (if fat and cholesterol are no issues – and if they’re not, you must be 16 years old and why are you reading this blog?) Anyhoo, I like to make up these fries, put them in the freezer and when the feeling strikes, they are ready to go.

French Fries ala Patti
Serves 4-ish

  • 4 Yukon Gold Potatoes
  • Peanut oil for frying
  • Salt

Slice potatoes lengthwise and cut into strips. Set a pot of water to boil.
Boil your potatoes for about 3 minutes. Scoop out of pot and dry thoroughly.
Pour peanut oil in another large pot about 3/4 of the way up and set burner on medium high.
When temperature reaches 375F, carefully place a handful of potatoes in to fry for about 5 minutes.
Scoop par-fried potatoes out of the pot, drain on a paper towel and place on a parchment-lined cookie sheet.
Put the potatoes into the freezer on cookie sheet. When they are completely frozen, you can move them to a airtight container or fry them immediately.
For final frying, use strained peanut oil (it gets expensive!) in large pot and bring to 375F again. Place frozen potatoes into the pot and fry until they are lightly golden brown (you don’t want them too dark, or else they will taste burnt). Scoop out of pot and sprinkle immediately with salt (seasoned salt works nicely here, too.)

Watch as your friends and family devour your handiwork in less than a heartbeat. Its embarrassing and flattering all at the same time. Please make sure you set some aside for yourself – you worked hard!

See, it’s not scary! Drop me a comment and let me know what you are frying these days.

xoxo, Patti