Fried foods may not be quite as popular at restaurants as they used to be (witness the ridiculous change in name made by Kentucky Fried Chicken), but that hardly means that people stopped enjoying the uniquely delectable taste of foods cooked by frying. You may be more likely to enjoy fried foods at home than when eating out these days. That is not necessarily a bad thing. But when it comes to frying foods, things get a bit more complicated than sticking something in the oven for baking or broiling. These tips for safe and delicious frying of food are especially useful for those new to the process, but even old timers may find a useful secret or two here.
The first tip anyone new to frying foods should take to heart is the very concrete danger of putting food into hot oil that retains any external moisture. You should always thoroughly clean meat and vegetables before frying for health reasons, but it is equally important to pat these foods completely dry. Water and cooking oil do not mix. If you have any drops of water on the food you place into hot oil for frying, you increase the chances for that hot oil to splatter right onto your skin. This is a lesson you usually need to learn only once. That first contact of hot oil on your exposed skin will teach you more quickly than reading an entire article about the consequences.
You may face a situation in which you have too have put in too much oil that rises dangerously close to the lip of the pan once you add the food for frying. The safest way to remove oil from a frying pan is with a sturdy turkey baster. Just suck up the oil and squeeze it into a cup. Never pour oil down your kitchen sink unless you want to deal with clogging later. The turkey baster also comes in handy for removing fat that is produced when you fry meat like hamburger or bacon.
One of the great joys of frying is the process of battering foods and frying them for that deep fried taste. No matter what kind of batter you use and no matter what kind of food you coat in that batter (pork chops, mushrooms, Twinkies), it usually becomes a process of trial and error before you get it just right. You will likely encounter a number of meals in which the batter floats away during the frying process or the batter gets unevenly browned. To increase the odds of success and reduce the period of trial and error, always approach a meal in which battered fried foods play a part early enough so that you can give the battered food at least 30 minutes to set at room temperature before you place it into the hot oil. This extra 30 minutes allows the batter to adhere properly to the food so that, in most cases at least, it won’t tear away during its frying time.
Change Your Oil
Just as you need to take your car in for an oil change, you need to take your frying pan in for an oil change. This does not mean emptying out the oil from the frying pan after each use. Feel free to reuse oil for frying for a few days. The original item cooked in the oil will leave behind an essence that new food soaks up, thus enhancing the flavor. After a few recycles, however, those flavors start soaking into newly fried foods a little too strongly and start to overpower things.
You should preheat skillets and saute pans for a couple of minutes over medium heat before adding small amounts of oil or butter. This preheating process will usually solve a common problem of frying in shallow heating agents: food that sticks to the pan.
Avoiding Sogging Foods
Some people are not fans of fried food due to the potential for this cooking process to produce soggy results. Bacon, sausage and other fatty meats are a common victim here. If you prefer crispy over soggy when it comes to fried food, then invest in a pan with a ridged surface. The raised edges on the bottom of these pans allow for fat-producing foods to be elevated above the flat flat surface. You still get the same effect of frying the food, but as the fat is rendered is falls to that surface and keeps the meat perched over the ridges from making contact. This lack of contact with the fatty runoff means a less juicy result, but also a less soggy one.