Deep fat frying started with the ancient Egyptians. They used it for pretty much the same reasons we do today, it is quick and easy and delicious. It also keeps food safe to eat for hours without refrigeration. Over the years it lost a lot of its popularity as people became more health conscious, but it is still a great resource for tempura, fried chicken, and delicious funnel cakes. There are three basic types of the deep fryer for use in the home, electric, propane gas, and the turkey fryer. Today the fats we use are much more refined and a lot less smoky, which makes deep frying a safe way to cook most things indoors. There are, however, some things that should still be done outside, like deep frying turkeys.
Electric deep fryers are very popular and basically easy to use, but they also require careful handling. Make sure you watch the fryer diligently because it cooks quickly and if food burns it can be a fire hazard. Keep a fire extinguisher handy, just in case. Avoid adding food to the basket when it is down in the oil.
There are many good fryers available but two of the best come from T-Fal, one of the world’s leading manufacturers of quality cookware and cooking devices. Their stainless steel deep oil fryer, Model FR8000, has an exclusive oil filtering system that drains the oil and lets you store it for future use, which can help you save money. It has an advanced oil heating function to ensure the ideal frying temperature so the food doesn’t absorb a lot of the oil so your foods are crispy and delicious. It is easy to clean and is rated very highly by users on Amazon.com.
The T-Fal ActiFry Air Fryer requires less than a tablespoon of oil and is the perfect fryer for people who want to maintain a lower-fat diet. The food is delicious and moist and fried to perfection. The removable ceramic nonstick pan is easy to clean, and the secure lid prevents splatters. It operates with two simple buttons; a digital timer and the on/off switch that buzzes to let you know your food is done. Like all T-Fal products, both deep fryers come with a lifetime warranty when used properly.
Grilling outdoors is a favorite national pastime, and outdoor deep frying is rapidly catching up. Especially popular are the gas fryers, which aficionados claim make fried foods crispier and more delicious than the electric kind. For portability, the best option is propane, but you have to be very cautious. Check out all the safety tips and make them part of your best practices. It can be a little more work than other fryers because the propane tank has to be refilled and stored, but the results are worth it.
Bayou Classic, a manufacturer of deep fryers for nearly a century, makes two terrific propane fryers. The top of the line is the Bayou Classic 700-701 4-Gallon Stainless Steel fryer. Superior efficiency is the hallmark of the no-scorch design and the V-bottom keeps the base temperature cooler than the top so the oil burns cleaner and batter does not burn. The luxury model of propane gas fryer, the 700-701 has a rather large capacity.
Bayou Classic also makes a smaller, 2.5-gallon fryer more well-suited for smaller gatherings. Made with the same superior design, it retails on Amazon.com for a good bit less than the 4 gallon model. Propane gas fryers are terrific, but they must be handled correctly. Make sure to adhere to the manufacturer’s guidelines. Also, make sure to take care with the propane gas tanks. Never cook with a propane fryer in the house, and do not store propane gas tanks inside. Periodically, have the equipment checked for leaks and to ensure that it is functioning properly.
Deep fried turkey is sweet and delicious, but making it can be dangerous if not done with the proper equipment, and following all directions correctly. According to the National Fire Protection Association failed attempts to fry turkey account for several deaths, hundreds of homes being burned, and millions of dollars in property damage annually. The biggest problem is that the oil gets too hot and catches fire.
A good way to avoid that is to use a fryer that doesn’t require oil, like the Big Easy TRU-Infrared Oil-Less Turkey Fryer from Char-Broil. It earns consistently rave reviews on Amazon.com and can handle a turkey up to 16 lbs. It can also fry other large cuts of meat and can accommodate injectable marinades and outside rubs that cannot be used with traditional fryers. Do not add any sugar to the rub or marinade, because the fryer cooks so hot it turns the sugar black, which is very unappetizing. It is okay to coat the turkey lightly with oil, so the skin will have a nice crispy appearance, just remember “lightly.” One tried and true and very simple recipe is thaw the turkey completely (because water or ice can cause the hot oil to flare up). Pat all over with a little coarse salt, add your favorite rub and then coat with a tiny bit of vegetable oil. There are several things you should do to stay safe, like put the fryer on an even surface, well away from trees and buildings. Never put it in a garage or on a deck, and always cook according to the directions included for the fryer you are using.
Most fryers come with a small recipe book, and there are a number of grilling and frying books on the market. A terrific source for recipes is the Internet, with sites like foodnetwork.com, and allrecipes.com.
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Deep fryers are great appliances for cooking a wide variety of foods. Electric fryers are great for use in the kitchen on a small scale and probably the best for small scale home frying. Propane deep fryers are great for those with larger needs. Turkey fryers are great for the ultimate moist and juicy Thanksgiving feast. Always stay safe when you fry and you can enjoy a variety of delicious treats—even deep-fried Mars Bars—for years to come.
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