I love fry-o-laters. And I feel no shame.
During my stint in culinary school (or, as my husband likes to call it, “Wife School”), I discovered the joys of frying. My instructors, who were hoping more to instill in us the virtues of poaching, braising, and pan-searing, were understandably disappointed.
While I like a good braise as much as the next person, you can’t beat the fry-o-later for efficiency of yumminess. Insert imperfect food into hot oil bath, wait mere moments, and…voilà. Perfect food.
I always considered the deep-fryer to be the most prestigious station in the school’s stainless steel teaching kitchen, so I wondered why I never had any competition in my favorite corner. I didn’t care. More for me.
But as soon as I lifted up the fry basket and christened those gilded little morsels with a bit of salt, a light shone down on all the class, a choir of voices sang out, and the exodus began. Mixers were left running. Pans smoking. Dishwashing nozzles spraying. The balance of power had suddenly shifted, and I, the one who scrambled the eggs in her gougère on her first day, had become the unlikely hero.
At least for the 30 seconds it took for everyone to devour the booty and return, just a little bit disheveled, to their precious aspic.
Some sources will tell you that peanut oil is the best for frying because it has the highest smoke point of the more common cooking oils. Which means that if you hit the restroom while the oil is heating up, as recommended in the instructions, you have a good six minutes before peanut oil becomes engulfed in flames and dark plumes of smoke. Compare that to the scant four minutes preceding a canola oil-induced conflagration.
My advice: just use canola oil. It tastes better, it’s cheaper, healthier, and you don’t have to worry about the allergy thing. Just go Number 2 before you start frying.