The deep fry method of cooking uses oil at least 3 inches deep, heated to a temperature of between 325 degrees and 400 degrees F, to prepare food quickly. Different foods require different cooking temperatures and various cooking times. During the deep fry process, the hot oil encourages the moisture within the food to steam and cook the food while the exterior of the food browns. Many foods can be deep fried.
Allow sufficient time for the oil in the deep fryer to reach the cooking temperature. This may take up to 15 minutes; 350 to 375 degrees F is sufficient for most foods. The food may retain excess grease if the oil is not hot enough. If your deep fryer does not have a temperature control, toss a 1-inch cube of white bread into the fryer. When the oil is hot enough, the bread cube will cook to a golden brown within 1 minute.
Fried chicken, country-fried steak and fish are common battered or breaded selections. If the battered items are prepackaged, follow the instructions for cooking times and temperatures. When you're breading your own product, consider cutting large portions of meat or poultry into strips and breading the smaller pieces for even cooking. Frying breaded meats and poultry at 365 to 375 degrees F is sufficient. Turn the food over when it rises to the surface, and the underside is golden brown and crispy.
Perhaps the most popular deep-fried vegetable is the potato in the form of French fries, although other vegetables, such as sliced eggplant, squash or battered okra, also cook nicely in a deep fryer. A fryer basket is handy for cooking vegetables. After placing the fries or other vegetables into the basket, lower it into the hot oil, taking care to shield your body from hot grease splatters. Use only as many vegetables in one fry session that allow movement in the oil. Lift and shake the basket once or twice during cooking or stir with a slotted frying spoon. Remove when the vegetables are evenly browned and floating.
Pastries, such as doughnuts, cook quickly in a deep fryer. After forming the raw dough into the desired shapes and letting it rise (if it contains yeast), slip the pastries carefully into the hot oil. Most bread products cook rapidly in the deep fryer at an average temperature of 350 degrees F. Turn them once when they rise to the surface, and the underside is lightly browned. The thick batter of other bread products, such as hush puppies or fried cornbread, may be dropped from a spoon into the hot oil.
A large deep fryer is necessary for cooking a whole turkey, and the turkey must be thawed before placing it in the hot oil. The Food Safety Center at Michigan State University recommends allowing between 3 and 5 minutes of frying time for each pound of turkey weight. In addition, a meat thermometer should read 180 degrees F when inserted into the turkey.
The oil used in deep frying is extremely hot. Gather fryer-safe steel tongs and slotted spoons as well as cooling racks before beginning and avoid dropping food into the hot oil, which can cause splatters and burns. Keep the deep fryer away from the edge of the counter where a child can reach it. Unplug a deep fryer when not in use.
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