Frying Food And Meats
( Originally Published 1904 )
FRYING is the process of cooking by immersing the food in hot fat—not using merely enough to keep the food from sticking to the vessel, but sufficient to wholly cover the articles of food. This requires a fairly deep kettle and a quantity of fat. It is not necessarily an ex-pensive process; as the fat may be saved and used over and over again.
The fat used is clarified fat from fowl, suet, beef fat, and lard. It is prepared by saving all such uncooked fat and making it pure and clear. To do this, the fat is cut in small pieces, covered with cold water, and cooked slowly until it is melted and the water nearly all evaporated. It is then strained, and the scraps are pressed in order to get all of the fat out of them. It is then set aside to cool, and the fat will form a solid cake on top and the water will remain be-low and can be poured off. To this cake of fresh fat may be added dripping from roast beef, chicken, veal, or pork. Do not use the fat from turkey, ham, or mutton, as it is too strong and will impart a disagreeable taste to the food. As new fat is added, the whole mass should be melted, as by this means it is freshened. Frequent melting and straining will make it possible to keep fat sweet and good for weeks.
This mixture of several sorts of fat is an ad-vantage in frying; for if suet alone is used, it will cool too quickly and also give a strong flavor to the food. The very best fat for frying is olive oil, but this, of course, has the great drawback of being too expensive for ordinary use. The fat must be absolutely free from water or moisture.. Even the steam from a kettle must not be allowed to condense near the vessel, for the slightest moisture will cause the fat to boil over and take fire, with the possibility of dangerous results. Keep all water away from' boiling fat. Even under the most favor-able circumstances the process of frying re-quires very skilful manipulation to keep the fat from covering the stove, taking fire, or filling the house with offensive odors. The process is also difficult, in as much as the fat that falls upon the stove gives rise to a smoke that is very trying to the eyes, nose, and throat of the operator.
In frying, the fat does not boil, but is merely hot. When we reflect that boiling water has a temperature of 212 and boiling fat is between 550° and 600°, we can readily understand that it is not necessary to boil the fat to produce heat enough to cook the food. The proper temperature is about 375°. It is plain that food can be cooked in this way much more quickly than by boiling the water. After the fat is put into the vessel and melted, the proper test for the requisite degree of heat is to place in it a slice of potato. If this browns fn from forty to sixty seconds, the 'fat is ready for use. If too many pieces of meat or other food are placed in the fat at the same time, they will reduce the tem--perature of the fat and retard the process. The object is to keep the fat at as steady and uniform a temperature as possible. See that the pieces of food are dried before placing in the wire basket for immersion, as even the slightest moisture on the food will cause the fat to boil over and take fire. If, on immersion, the fat should threaten to boil over, merely raise the basket from the vessel and it will subside. As soon as the. pieces are browned, raise the basket and let it drip over the vessel. Care must be taken to let the fat drip very thoroughly from the food; this may be facilitated by lightly shaking the wire basket. Then place the pieces upon . a sheet of absorbent, unglazed, or unsized paper to absorb the fat, and keep hot until served.
It must not be supposed that any of the fat enters the meat while it is cooking. The fat should be hot enough to close the pores and to harden the outer albumen so that no fat can enter. That degree of heat is determined as indicated above.
When the cooking is done strain the fat into a vessel, and set aside for future use. There is room for economy in the way the fat is used. The fat will turn brown after it has been used several times. Brown fat should never be used in cooking potatoes, or doughnuts. When it is too brown for this purpose, use it for croquettes, and lastly for fish or fish-balls. If the pieces are crumbed before frying, see that all of the crumbs are strained out, else they will adhere to the vessel and burn. The chief foods to be fried are chicken; meat, oysters, croquettes, potatoes, fritters, doughnuts, Fish, and fish-balls. If the pieces of meat are large, it is well to remember' that it is possible for them to become brown be-fore they are cooked through. In the case of large pieces of food, it is necessary to set the kettle back from the intense heat of the fire so that the food may cook more slowly and thoroughly. Cooked food such as croquettes, fish: balls, etc., and small fish, oysters, etc., do not take above one minute to brown. All food cooks more quickly in hot fat than in any other way. When transferring the basket from the kettle to the table see that no fat drips upon the stove or the floor. This can best be prevented by holding a tin plate under the wire basket.
This is the ordinary method of frying in a shallow pan with just enough fat to keep the article of food from burning or sticking to the pan. The food is browned on one side and then turned. It is usually applied to omelets, fritters, cakes, and potatoes. In some households it is the only form of frying used; but it is the most objectionable and injurious form. The food becomes thoroughly saturated with grease, besides losing the juices upon which the flavor and nutriment depend, and indigestion inevitably follows. The only essentials to success in this process are a hot griddle and a quick fire. Fried chicken is really sauted. The chicken is of course very tender. The pieces are wiped, dredged with flour, salt, and pepper, and are sauted in hot salt pork fat until browned. The chicken must not be burned. Butter, so commonly used, is not a good medium for sauteing, as it decomposes and becomes chemically changed at a low temperature. Oil is the best medium of all, but is expensive. Lyonnaise and hashed brown potatoes are sauted, not fried.
LESSON RECIPES FOR FRYING FRIED POTATOES
Cut cold white or sweet potatoes into slices. Put 1 tablespoonful dripping and 1 tablespoonful butter into a frying-pan. When the fat is smoking, put in enough potatoes to cover the bottom of the pan; sprinkle on salt, and a very little pepper. When brown on one side, turn and brown the other side. Put on a hot dish while frying another panful. Many persons like a little onion juice sprinkled on the potatoes, or some finely chopped parsley sprinkled over the slices while they are being browned. .
Use a level teaspoonful of butter and one of dripping for a small pan.
6 tomatoes; 1 tablespoonful flour; 1/4 tea-spoonful salt; sprinkle pepper; butter.
Mix the flour, salt, and pepper, and put into a dredger. Cut the tomatoes in slices, without . skimming; shake the flour-mixture over the slices on both sides. Put enough butter into a frying-pan (1 teaspoonful) to cover the bottom when melted, .and, when it bubbles, lay in the . slices of tomato, and cook until done. Make a sauce by using the liquid remaining in the pan. Add to it 1/2; cup of milk or water.
Remove the skin and cut into slices, not more than one-half inch thick. Soak in cold salted water one-half hour and drain. Beat an egg, prepare some fine bread crumbs. .Wipe. the slices, dip them in the beaten egg, then in the crumbs. Put .1 tablespoonful butter or drip-ping in a frying-pan, and brown the slices on both sides in the fat. The egg plant may be fried in a bath of fat, which is the better way to prevent its absorbing fat; fifteen minutes is necessary to cook it sufficiently.
TO FRY SCRAPPLE AND INDIAN MUSH
Cut cold scrapple or mush into slices one-half inch thick. Melt one-half tablespoonful drip-ping in a frying-pan, and .be careful to let it get smoking hot. Put in a few slices, just enough to cover the bottom of the pan, and fry them until brown. Turn them, and brown the other side. Lay the slices a moment on clean, brown paper to drain, and serve hot on a hot plate.
Shake flour over the slices of mush before frying. Use no fat in frying scrapple.
Prick them all over with a darning needle, and pour boiling water over them in a saucepan.
Let them come to a boil over the fire, then take them out and wipe them dry. Have ready on the fire a frying-pan with enough hot fat in it to just cover the bottom. Put the sausages in before they grow cold. Turn and shake in the pan, while cooking, to brown them evenly and keep from bursting. When well browned they are done. They will require about ten minutes.
Cut ham into slices, one-quarter of an inch thick, if cooked; trim off the skin sprinkle with it pinch of pepper; have the frying-pan hot; put in the slices of ham, and fry over a quick fire until the fatty part is nicely browned.
For ham and eggs proceed as above, and when the ham is done take it out and keep hot. Then drop the eggs into the hot fat in the frying-pan and cook until the eggs are firm. Take off the eggs and put one on each piece of the ham, which should be cut up.