1) Buy a deep fryer. If you’re the person who always hosts the parties (planned and unplanned) I recommend buying a deep fryer. The benefits are countless. You get an even, golden-hued fry that’s restaurant quality with a professional look. It’s fun and fast. In seconds the fish, eggplant, etc. is done. A deep fryer eliminates the common problems of pan frying (see commandment #4). There are many models and sizes out there. Find the right fryer for your space and usage. The double fryer is a great one.
2) Before egging, cover with flour. This goes for fish and vegetables, I find that you don’t need this step with chicken. The flour increases the breadcrumbs ability to stick, resulting in a thick outer breadcrumb crust. It also reduces sogginess.
3) Make sure the oil is VERY hot. Heat the oil, when you think it’s hot, flick water (with your fingers) into the oil. If it bubbles aggressively and makes loud crackling noises, you’re good to go. Hot oil means you only leave the food in for a minute or less. This keeps the food from tasting greasy. You want the outer breadcrumb to fry, creating a casing and that’s it. The food itself shouldn’t be saturated with oil. Having the oil at the right temperature is key.
4) “DON’T PLAY WITH IT. “ As annoyed as I used to get when my Mom would scream at me in the kitchen, “DON’T PLAY WITH IT”, I learned over the years that she’s right: place the breaded food in the pan and just let it sit. Try to flip/move only once. The more you play with it, the more the breadcrumbs will fall off leaving “bald spots” and contaminating the oil. When loose breadcrumbs fall in the oil, they burn quickly and stick to the food. It looks amateur and tastes burnt. I can’t stress enough how important commandment 4 is.
This rule applies to pan frying more than deep frying. Lets face it, if you’re making 6 cutlets you’re not going to bring out the deep fryer!
5) Don’t be cheap with your paper towels. If you don’t properly drain the oil from whatever you’re frying, it will be soggy and taste fatty. Years ago, we used the brown paper grocery bags for oil drippings. They worked the best. I remember when the food stores stopped using them and switched strictly to plastic. My Mom was frantic. She complained to the manager at Stop&Shop. “What am I supposed to use when I fry my cutlets!!!” She switched food stores in protest but eventually all stopped using the beloved brown bags.* So, now we use paper towels. Even though they’re expensive, don’t hold back, use as many as you need. My Mom always jokes “What’s the most expensive thing you buy when you’re making eggplant parmigiana? …the paper towels!” When it comes to ingredients and supplies, you can not be frugal. Cheap ingredients equals a cheap taste.
Now with all this great new insight, give this a fry!
Flo’s fried cauliflower recipe
Sometimes I make this with a spicy cilantro sauce which you can find here.
1 head cauliflower
4 cloves garlic
Salt to taste
1. Parboil the cauliflower. Be careful not to over due it.
2. Cut cauliflower into pieces (around 1x 1.5 inches) and coat in flour and salt
3. In a bowl scramble 3-4 eggs per 1 head of cauliflower
4. Add cauliflower into egg mixture and coat thoroughly
5. Mix 1 oz. of Romano cheese and some chopped garlic into 1 1/2 cups seasoned bread crumbs. Place mixture on a flat dish
6. Bread cauliflower. Make sure the crumbs are on well. Press firmly cupping with your hands
7. Heat the oil and drop in a whole garlic clove. Make sure it’s really hot by flicking water in the pan with your fingers. Once hot, fry cauliflower until golden brown. Drain on paper towels, layering if needed.
Best served right after frying. If you have to make the cauliflower in advance, keep the florets in the paper towels at room temperature until you’re ready to serve. Must be made the day of.
*It’s a given that Flo doesn’t go to Trader Joe’s where they have brown bags, it’s too “new school” for her, but this is a topic for another post.