I don’t fry. I definitely don’t deep-fry. But once a year I whip out my large pot and my huge Costco-size bottle of oil and throw my health-conscious cooking ways out the window to indulge in some greasy, deep-fried deliciousness. Deep-frying has a stigma of being artery-clogging, fat-inducing danger. The reality is that fat is good for you if it’s the right kind, done right, and eaten in moderation. Deep-frying at home gives you more leverage to ensure it’s done properly with the best ingredients and the least absorption. So don’t be afraid to fry at least once a year and indulge in some deep-fried Chanukah treats.
How much oil. Use at least 1½ to 2 quarts or more of oil to deep fry. The more oil you use, the better—so your food is not overcrowded and does not absorb too much. You can reuse the strained oil for more deep-frying or sautéing and stir-frying if you store it in an airtight container in the fridge.
What kind. Using olive oil is fine if you make sure to keep the oil temperature around 350°. Olive oil’s smoking point is at 375°, so you can use it for a healthier oil option. Save the more expensive extra-virgin olive oil for salad dressings and finishing dishes. Other oils that can be used are peanut, canola, and grapeseed oil, which have a more neutral flavor. Controlling which oil you use will make your dishes healthier than commercially fried foods that use vegetable, soy, or corn oils.
Variations. If done properly, deep-frying actually results in less-greasy food than pan-frying. The goal is to achieve a crispy exterior and just fully cooked interior that has not absorbed the oil. The deep-frying process actually seals the food in a crunchy, protective package. You can fry things directly, like a french fry or a falafel ball; with a light coating of flour or cornmeal; in a batter, like tempura; or a flour, egg, and breadcrumb treatment. Choose the appropriate process depending on what food you’re frying.
Process. Place oil in a deep heavy pot and heat over medium-high heat to a temperature of 350°–365°F. Use a thermometer to ensure correct temperature or drop a pinch of flour in the oil to see if it sizzles but does not burn up right away. When you drop the food inside, it should first sink and then immediately rise to the top. If it doesn’t rise, the oil is not hot enough, and if it doesn’t sink, the oil is too hot. Fry food in batches, being careful not to overcrowd or the temperature will drop. Turn food over to achieve even browning on both sides. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. v
Churros With Nutella Dip
1 cup water
2 Tbsp. sugar
½ stick butter
1 cup flour
2 tsp. vanilla extract
3 cups canola oil for frying
¾ cup Nutella (hazelnut–chocolate spread)
¼ cup heavy cream
½ cup confectioners’ sugar
Place water, sugar, and butter in a saucepan. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and add flour, whisking quickly until a ball is formed. Remove from heat and add eggs one at a time. Mix in vanilla extract. Let dough cool before transferring to pastry bag with large star tip or a large Ziploc bag with one corner snipped off.
Heat oil in large heavy pot until very hot but not smoking. Squeeze dough 4 inches long into the oil in batches. Fry churros 2–3 minutes on each side until dough puffs up and turns golden brown.
Remove churros from oil onto tray lined with parchment paper and let cool. Warm Nutella and heavy cream in microwave for 2 minutes until Nutella is melted. Mix to combine. Place confectioners’ sugar in shallow dish. Roll churros in confectioners’ sugar and serve with Nutella dip.
Want to learn how to cook delicious gourmet meals right in your own kitchen? Take one-on-one cooking lessons or give a gift to an aspiring cook that you know. For more information, contact Take Home Chef personal chef services by calling 516-508-3663, writing to elke@TakeHomeChef.net, or visiting www.TakeHomeChef.net.