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Thread: When frying food, how do I know when the oil is ready?

  1. #1
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    Question When frying food, how do I know when the oil is ready?

    I bought an electric skillet with temperature control with the idea in mind of frying chicken. I've never fried anything in an electric or regular skillet. How do I know when the oil has reached the right temperature?

    Thanks for your help

  2. #2
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    Are you deep frying? I always just use my candy thermometer to make sure I get the oil to the right temperature- 350 or 340 degrees? I can't remember off the top of my head.

  3. #3
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    Well the chicken would not be completely submerged in oil. The recipe says to pour oil to 1" depth and heat oil to 350 degrees. My skillet has a 350 degree temperature on it but I just don't know how long it takes for the oil to reach that temperature.

  4. #4
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    NashVegas, baby!
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    The only way you'll know for sure is to use a thermometer -- the length of time will vary from machine to machine, and even batch to batch depending on how much oil is in the pan.

  5. #5
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    Once the oil is at the right temp, adding food will cause the temp to decrease. So having a thermometer allows you to watch the actual temp and adjust as needed to try to keep it around the correct temp.

  6. #6
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    I don't fry -- just voyeuristically watch Alton Brown fry -- according to him and others, it's critical that the temperature be exact -- too low and the food will absorb too much oil and too high and the crust will burn without cooking the food.

    As others have stated, a thermometer is critical -- as is frying in small batches, waiting for the oil temperature to recover between batches and not using cold food which decreases the temperature too much.

    I would LOVE one of those point and shoot thermometers he uses

  7. #7
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    Thanks for the suggestions. It looks like I'll be buy a thermometer.

  8. #8
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    I agree on using a thermomenter. Here is a quotation from my 1964 Joy of Cooking. "Nothing is more important in frying than proper temperatures. As that wise old gourmet, Alexander Dumas, so aptly put it, the food must be 'surprised' by the hot fat, to give it the crusty, golden coating so characteristic and so desirable. and the easier way to assure this is by using a thermometer.

    "When no thermoneter is available, a simple test for temperature can be made with a small cube of bread about 1-inch square. When you think the fat is hot enough, drop in the bread cube and count slowly to sixty or use a timer for sixty seconds. If the cube browns in this time, the fat will be around 375 degrees, satisfactory for frying most foods...

    "Above all, do not wait for the fat to smoke before adding the food." The whole discussion in this edition is excellent. The discussion in the current edition, if that is the book to which you have access, is shorter but also good to read.

    I often use the bread cube as a "second opinion" at altitude.

    Good luck! Though you may not use it every week, deep fat frying is a technique well worth mastering, for done expertly, the food is an exceptional treat and not at all greasy.

    Kay

  9. #9
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    Thanks for your tips Kay! The bread cube tip is a good one. I think I'll give that a go before investing in ANOTHER kitchen gadget.

  10. #10
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    Out of nostalgia I still use my grandma's trick: dip the end of a wooden spoon in the oil and when it sizzles hard around the edges that means the oil is ready. Never failed me so far!
    Good luck with the method you use...you made me want to make donuts this afternoon now!
    "Never separate the life you live from the words you speak." -Paul Wellstone (1944-2002)

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