Oakland’s burger master Chris Kronner shares his burger philosophy in his debut cookbook, A Burger To Believe In. Complete with classic recipes, dishes from collaborators like Bar Tartine, a chicken wing salad and a short story from Harold McGee, this book is one for the truest and quirkiest of burger lovers. Behind every great burger, there’s a strong supporting sidekick. Whether it’s fries or onion rings, you need to know how to deep-fry without injuring yourself and others.
Frying at home can be exhilarating but also dangerous, so becoming comfortable with hot oil is a crucial step to creating fries and onion rings. Fortunately, some basic tips can ensure that there are no disasters.
- Use a frying thermometer. It’s extremely helpful, if not crucial, to know how hot your oil is. This will make everything easier, especially for the recipes in this book, which refer to specific temperatures during the frying process. Other recommended equipment: a metal spider skimmer, slotted spoon, or other small strainer to remove the fried food from the hot oil.
- Use a heavy pot, like a Dutch oven—the heavier, the better—as it will help the oil to maintain a consistent temperature.
- Size matters! The diameter of your pot determines how much oil you will need for proper frying. Different pots require different amounts of oil. A good rule of thumb: You want enough oil to fully submerge the food, which means you want the oil to be at least 3 inches deep. Never fill a pot more than halfway. In a standard Dutch oven, this usually amounts to 4 cups or so.
- Use the right type of oil. I prefer rice bran oil because it is good for high-heat frying and it comes from relatively sustainable sources. Peanut oil is the best alternative, and second (and third) best are non-GMO, expeller-pressed safflower and canola oils.
- Don’t be afraid to get the oil hotter than your desired frying temperature. When you add the food to the hot oil, the temperature will likely drop about 20°F, so you actually want the temperature to be a bit hotter before frying. In other words, if you want to cook your potatoes at 375°F, you’ll want to heat the oil to 395°F.
- Carefully lower the foods into the hot oil—don’t toss them in. Speaking of which . . .
- Unless you are immune to the splatter of hot oil, one of those splatter-screen frying-pan covers is rather helpful, just in case.
- Don’t crowd the pot. The fried foods should be bubbling quickly and actively. If you put too many foods in at once, the oil temperature will plummet, which means that the food won’t fry immediately and will ultimately get soggy.
- Drain freshly fried foods on paper towels or on a rack set inside a pan.
- Do not reuse oil that has a bunch of detritus floating around or has been used repeatedly. For the recipes in this book, one batch of oil should be able to withstand two full recipes.
- Pay attention! Frying successfully at home means monitoring the temperature of the oil and adjusting it up or down moment by moment.