There is one cooking method you have not seen on Kitchen Mischief since the first post almost 3 years ago. Can you guess it? Yep. Frying. Why do Josh and I avoid frying? Let us count the ways:
- We are not fans of the boiling vats of oil that can melt the skin off you body. We do not need to add to our cooking scars.
- We also hate the mess and smell. Unless you are Paula Dean and have a deep fat fryer in your kitchen, you probably fry something on your stove and it splatters everywhere. You may have also noticed that we have set things on fire in the past so not a good combo.
- Not the healthiest of cooking. If fried correctly, most foods don’t absorb a lot of the grease; however, most of us don’t have fancy fryers (Paula Dean) that can regulate the oil’s temperature. If the oil is not hot enough the food can absorb more oil than it should. Needless to say, we are sucker for fried foods so the other two reasons were overlooked.
So why would we try this “dangerous”, smelly, unhealthy method of cooking? Well, this is Kitchen Mischief…you’ve read the blog right?
To be as safe as possible, we followed a few simple rules of frying: 1.) have an area free of clutter (prevent fires); 2.) don’t overfill the pot with too much oil – half-way is good (prevents from oil boiling over onto the flame or burner); 3.) cook small batches for even cooking and temperature control; and 4.) for safety, have a fire extinguisher handy.
To keep my house from smelling like the inside of a Captain D’s, I decided to take advantage of the great weather and use my propane burner (used for shrimp boils) and a smaller frying pot that came with burner accessories. Before you fill the pot with oil, you need to get your food ready for the deep fry.
I decided to try two favorites – sweet potato chips and french fries using medium-size russet potatoes. I couldn’t make it that simple. Josh recently gave me some spice assortments from Penzeys Spices and I thought we needed to spice up this typical side dish. For the sweet potato chips I used Zatar seasoning (sumac, thyme, white sesame seed and salt) and a little more kosher salt. For the fries, I used two different seasonings. First, I used Shallot-Pepper (salt, Tellicherry black pepper, shallots, tarragon, and bay leaves) and extra kosher salt. The second, I used black truffle salt.
To prepare the sweet potatoes I used a mandoline slicer. This gets the slices consistent so they cook evenly. You can find these slicers at cooking stores or even TJ Maxx. Just please follow the directions and use the guard to prevent having finger tip chips. For the french fries, I sliced with the mandoline first and then used a knife to establish the width.
For the sweet potato chips, we fried them at 360 degrees for 3 minutes or until they started turning brown. Transfer the chips to a sheet pan lined with a brown paper grocery bag (great for absorbing oil) and a little paper towel. Immediately season the chips with your seasoning of choice (at least a little salt). They will not be crisp right out of the fryer. They have to dry a little.
For the fries, I tried using the double fry method. The first frying should be done at a lower temp – 320 degrees for 2 to 3 minutes – to cook the fries. Drain and cool the fries (this can be down while you fry the second batch). Then you fry the batch again at a higher temp to brown and crisp – 375 degrees for 2 to 3 minutes or until brown.
I know that NOW. (We tried this method using the same temp so we had to pull them early on the second fry before they browned too much.) We also transferred the fries to a brown paper bag and paper towel lined sheet pan and seasoned immediately.
These sides went great with the Thai chicken burgers I made from Josh’s post. But I couldn’t leave well enough alone. I added a little store-bought Asian slaw to the burgers and made some seasoned ketchup. Try these little beauties with any fry – homemade or not.
Smoked Ketchup – add a teaspoon of liquid smoke (in the barbecue sauce section) to a cup of ketchup. Not smokey enough? Add more liquid smoke to taste. I add a little cayenne pepper to spice it up.
Garlic-Chili Ketchup – add a teaspoon of Thai garlic-chili paste (found in Asian section) to a cup of ketchup. Add more chili paste for extra spice.
So, is tempting pots of boiling oil worth the hassle for chips or fries? Sure. But would I try this for a dinner party with several guests? Heck no! The number of batches alone would drive me crazy and plus, I don’t think my homeowners insurance would cover the medical bills for the third-degree burns.