The mythological Deep Fryer. It’s messy, dangerous, unhealthy, and did I mention dangerous?! Funny story – while spring cleaning a couple weeks ago (yes, in the dead of winter) I happened upon the Waring Pro deep fryer that I received as a wedding gift in 2008 that has never even been opened. I think I’ve moved about five times since then, lugging this shiny kitchen appliance back and forth between the South and Mid-West (these moves are another story altogether), with the greatest intentions of one day using it.
Storage space in Chicago comes at a premium, even in our moderately sized townhouse so when I found the deep fryer in the very back of our garage storage closet it was put into the “offsite storage” pile. There was a donate vs. keep debate but I really had the best intentions of using it, especially now that I am in the throes of my culinary adventures.
The few hours I had to let it percolate before leaving for the storage unit weighed heavily in my mind. My wife Stacy basically said, “I don’t care what you decide, but either use it or donate it”. In fairness, I hound her about all the shoes she keeps so I completely appreciated her encouragement to make a decision. So, I brought it upstairs in a bold move to challenge myself to fire it up.
Still fearing a scalding cauldron of liquid flame and its potential to take out the kitchen with a single mishap, I steeled my nerves and sought out recipes. Chicken wings were a given, and the recipe booklet that came with the deep fryer sold me on beer-battered onion rings as a complement to the fowl. The “Better Than Fast Food Fries” seemed intriguing but since I didn’t have regular potatoes on hand, I adapted the recipe and used a sweet potatoe that I had left over from making Abigail and Franklin’s favorite, “Not Only for Thanksgiving” Turkey & Sweet Potato Dog Treats”. By recipe, I mean, wash, cut into fry shape, and fry (twice, but we’ll save that for later), so I couldn’t think of a better very first food to try once the oil came up to temp.
I fluttered around the kitchen collecting and staging ingredients, chopping here and there, combining dry ingredients here, whisking wet ingredients there, all the while delaying the inevitable. Once there was no more mise to
With the unit plugged in and firmly in place on the countertop, I cranked the temp to 325 and settled in for what I thought would be the beginning of a lengthy and twisted journey. Reminder: this thing had been sitting in a box for 11 years before I pulled it out and fired it up, so I half expected a plume of smoke to start billowing
I couldn’t have been more amazed by how things went down next! For starters, the unit came up to temp in under five minutes. With no basis of fact whatsoever, I just expected to take as long as the oven to come to temp. WRONG! In went half of the fry-shaped sweet potatoes for the first three (no-so-terrifying-now) minutes of use. Basket dropped, lid on, and timer set, I stared in amazement as the potatoes started turning into fries. After three minutes, I took the cover off, lifted the basket and set it above the cooking oil on its hook, and transferred the half-cooked fries to the cooling rack. After repeating with the second half of raw sweet spuds, instructions called for increasing the temp to its highest setting of 375 for another four-minute bath. Again, in two batches, I waited in awe as the process completed. Spoiler alert – Stacy and I couldn’t wait for the second batch to cook and gobbled up the first batch pretty quickly like unattended children attacking an open cookie jar. Pure joy and amazement!
With the inaugural cook out of the way and the temp set at 375, the Onion Rings were next. The assembly line of raw > dusted > battered > and
I’m pumped beyond words to delve into the world of Onion Rings and creating the best tasting recipe for you now that I’ve made it through the foundational process.
One of the most amazing of all myths that
We were finally to the main course, CHICKEN WINGS! Fully confident now, the wings cooked in two, 13 -minute batches and came out as good, if not better than what we get at most wing joints. I’ve eaten a lot of wings and I was slightly concerned that I skipped the breading before frying, but at this
Finally, ready to plate! Stacy and I ate as much as we could but as usual, I made enough for an army of folks and there were plenty of leftovers.
The experiment was a success and I felt great about venturing into a new, mythical, and “dangerous” culinary adventure. Stay tuned for more deep fryer experiments, recipes, and tales from the test kitchen.
My only regret is that it took me over ten years to get down on it. Lesson learned!