New Year’s resolution: learn to cook! This is the year to leave your kitchen fears behind and create fabulous food with ease. To get started, look to our new cookbook Cook Good Food, full of simple techniques and foolproof recipes for everyday eating. Throughout the month, we’ll be sharing key technique primers from the book, along with great recipes to go with them. Start reading — and make good food tonight!
Frying, or more specifically deep-frying, means cooking foods fully or partially submerged in very hot oil, creating a crisp, golden crust that seals in natural juices and keeps food moist and tender. Some foods, like potatoes, can be added directly to the oil, while others, such as vegetables or fish, are first coated with flour or batter to create a crunchy texture and protect the delicate ingredients.
With temperatures just shy of 400°F (200°C), frying can be dangerous work, but it’s easy to master. Use a sturdy, heavy-bottomed saucepan or stockpot with high sides to control spattering and a neutral-flavored cooking oil that can withstand high temperatures, such as peanut or canola oil.
Heat smartly. Always heat oil to the temperature in the recipe (overheated oil can combust) and regulate the heat throughout the frying process to be sure it stays relatively consistent.
Don’t overheat. Take care not to let the oil heat past about 400°F (200°C), as it can be dangerous. If the temp starts to creep up too high, remove the oil from the heat and let it stand undisturbed to cool down to a safe temperature.
Cook ASAP. Try not to let breaded or battered foods sit for too long before frying or they will become soggy.
Fry in small batches. This helps foods cook evenly and develop the desired crisp crust. Keep batches warm in a 200°F (95°C) oven as you work. Be sure to return the oil to the proper temperature before adding the next batch.
Season well. Season fried foods while they’re still hot, ideally while they are draining, for the best flavor.
Be safe & sensible. Let the oil cool completely before discarding it. Consult your local community regulations for the best way to discard used oil.
|Pour in the oil
Pour oil with a high smoke point into a wide, heavy, deep-sided saucepan to the depth indicated in the recipe.
|Take the temperature
Clip a deep-frying thermometer onto the edge of the pan and warm over medium-high or high heat. Watch closely until it reaches the desired temperature.
|Batter the food
If called for in the recipe, plunge the food into a batter or breading. Coat only enough food for 1 batch of frying.
|Fry the food
Add the food to the hot oil, stirring or turning it with a wire skimmer so that it cooks evenly.
|Drain the fat
Using a wire skimmer or tongs, transfer the food to the draining station to dry. Re-warm the oil to the desired temperature between batches, if necessary.
|Beer-Battered Onion Rings
These classic onion rings are coated with a lager-spiked batter before being doused in hot oil, creating a light and crispy crust. Serve alongside a cheeseburger or steak, or on their own as an appetizer.
|Artichoke and Lemon Fritto Misto
This Italian dish calls for frying up fresh artichokes along with thin lemon slices, which add a refreshing tang to the mix. Mix some silky aioli for dipping.
|Fried Green Tomatoes
Southern cooks never pass up an opportunity to serve crispy, tangy, fried green tomatoes. These have a cornmeal crust for added texture.
These thin-cut fries are extra crispy — perfect as a side to sandwiches and burgers. A sprinkle of fresh parsley gives them a grown-up touch (but the kids will love them, too)!
|Buttermilk Fried Chicken
A big platter of this crispy, tender, golden brown chicken would be a hit at any gathering. Immersing the chicken pieces in the buttermilk brine for several hours gives the chicken loads of flavor and helps keep the meat moist as it fries.
|Spiced Cider Doughnuts
Just one bite of these sugar-glazed deep-fried treats will prove that it’s worth making your own doughnuts. These have a touch of warm spices in the dough and are coated with a sweet cider glaze to take them over the top.