Competition for valuable kitchen counter or cabinet space gets tighter as more new electric appliances appear. In the case of the deep-fryer, which has a prominent place in the commercial kitchen, the question is whether it deserves a spot in the home kitchen.
Of course there's no decision to make for those who are determined to put fatty foods on their "out" list. For them, the appliance is obsolete. But for die-hard fans of tempura, French fries, Southern-fried chicken, onion rings, fritters, egg rolls or any frying that requires true crispness, a deep-fryer is a must.
Whether you're replacing an old and weary grease-laden electric unit or moving up from an unsafe stovepot-and-basket technique, it's easy to move upscale with the newer deluxe deep-fryer models.
The Super Deep Fryer from Tefal Appliance Co. in New Jersey has corrected many of the pitfalls in the ordinary deep-fryer with its state-of-the-art features. Made in France, the sturdy cooking appliance fries foods in a sealed manner, reducing the emission of obnoxious greasy odors that waft and linger around the house. The lockable hinged lid hermetically seals the pot, trapping in any spills or spatter.
"It's a very safe device," says Walter Nachtigall, Tefal's vice president of marketing and sales. "Each year there are thousands (of instances) reported of kids reaching out and knocking over fryers, particularly the little units. Even if you were to knock this (the Super Deep Fryer) off a table, the oil won't dump all over as the unit is sealed."
The presence of the lid may sound inconvenient at first until you discover that Tefal provided an outside control for its inner frying basket. The control can be turned to lower or raise the basket.
How do you know when the food is done if the lid is closed? The lid has a viewing window that can be lifted to expose the stage of browning of the food. Tefal also provided a 20-minute timer with a bell signal.
A thermostatic control is highly important in any fryer for maintaining proper temperature during cooking so the food doesn't get soggy. It also prevents the oil from reaching its smoking point or getting to an unnecessarily high temperature that causes molecular breakdown of the oil and consequent rancidity.
Tefal's thermostatically controlled deep-fryer also has a two-position temperature switch, which is handy for recipes calling for initial lower heat setting for blanching, then cooking at the higher temperature for a final crisping. When asked why the unit didn't have gradations in the heat setting, Nachtigall said: "Deep-frying is not such that you can fry at whatever temperature you feel." The top temperature setting is 374 degrees, which is recommended for French fries, meat, all frozen foods and chicken. A lower temperature position of 335 degrees is used for more delicate foods such as fish, vegetables, fritters and croquettes.
Another advantage in the Tefal fryer is the charcoal filter contained in the lid. This effectively absorbs cooking odors and moisture that escapes through the louvers in the lid while cooking. Nachtigall also recommends straining the oil regularly with the filter paper provided so that the oil can be reused.
"The beauty of the Tefal deep-fryer is that the oil can be safely stored in the unit and the whole thing put away until the next use," he said.
The question of when to change the oil often comes up. Tefal recommends changing every 12 to 15 fryings, at the maximum, or as soon as it shows deterioration evidenced by browning, smoke or pronounced flavor. Use suitable frying oils resistant to high temperatures such as good quality corn oil, peanut oil, blended vegetable oil or solid vegetable shortening.
Sometimes the food doesn't brown and remains limp. The manufacturer blames this on the following: food pieces are too thick and contain too much water; too much food has been fried at the same time. For best results, the manufacturer advises frying in smaller quantities, particularly frozen foods, which tend to lower the heat of the oil. Another reason for soggy or uneven browning is that the oil has not reached or maintained the correct temperature.
The Tefal Super Deep Fryer is available in two models: the new Deluxe Model 8215 ($129.99), which sports a stainless steel body and dark gray heat-resistant plastic trim, and the Standard Model 8208 ($99) with a white enamel body and dark gray and red trim. The standard model does not have the viewing window, bell timer or two-position temperature control of the deluxe unit. Both have a 2-pound capacity.
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