Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Pan-frying…Chicken Fried Steak

 

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Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Pan-Frying 101

 

2. Brining the Chicken…Typically when I frychicken, I cook approximately 3-3 1/2 pounds of chicken pieces….So let’s get started…
Soaking your chicken in some sort of brine will help the breading stick to the food better…and add moisture and flavor. Once you prepare the brine, simply add the chicken to the liquid and stick in the fridge at least thirty minutes, and even overnight.

 

4. Heating Your Oil…When frying chicken, it is important that the oil can be heated to a high temperature without burning. Peanut, canola or vegetable oil are your best options…Avoid using olive oil or butter.

 

 

 

5. Cooking Your Chicken…Gently place your breaded chicken skin side-down in your heated pan, being sure not to overcrowd the pan.

Replace the lid onto the pan. Cook the chicken about ten minutes, using your tongs to turn the chicken a few times while it cooks.

Remove the lid. Cook ten minutes more, uncovered…until the chicken is cooked through and the outside is a deep golden brown.

 

If you are using a probe thermometer to monitor the internal temperature of the chicken, the magic number is 165 degrees.

Remember to bring the oil back up to 350 degrees before you add the next batch of chicken.

 

 

 

Once your chicken has finished frying, place the hot chicken on a wire rack set on top of a baking sheet. Sprinkle with a little salt for extra flavor.

Serve warm or at room temperature.

 

 

When done well, you should end up with a hallmark of great fried chicken—perfectly tender meat with plenty of that crunchy, dark brown crust that all of us Southerners so adore.

Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Skinny Dipping

5. Chill the  Breaded Food…

Cover the tray of breaded food with foil or Saran Wrap. Place in the fridge for thirty minutes to an hour.

This is priobably the one step that most of us feel like we could simply skip…

But chilling your food is actually extremely important beccause refrigerating the fooed allows the flour to become sticky and attach to the meat….ensuring that the breading stays on your food once you cook it.

4. Fry Until Golden Brown…After the breaded food has had time to chill, you’re ready to fry it.

a. First fill the pan that you have designated as your offricial frying pan with enough oil so the food you’re frying is half-covered. Make sure you use a heavy pan for frying so it conducts heat evenly.

b. Heat the oil until a few breadcrumbs sizzle when tossed in. The type of oil that you fryt your food in is actually a matter of preference. Use cooking oil that can withstand high temperatures.

Make sure that the oil is hot enough before adding the food…otherwise your fried food will absorb the oil like a sponge…resulting in soggy, oily food….and the breading will fall off the food into the pan.

Your oil should be somewhere between 300 and 400 degrees, depending on the recipe.

You can you tell if the oil is hot enough by using use a kitchen thermometer…or tossing a drop of batter or breadcrumbs into the oil to make sure that it sizzles…or sticking the end of a wooden spoon into the oil to see if little bubbles form around the spoon.

Also, if the oil in your ia hot enough, the oil will take on a distinct shimmer.

But it the oil is smoking, it’s too hot…either turn the heat down or start over.

Don’t try to rush the oil into reaching the right temperature by cranking your stove eye up as high as possible. The oil should heat up slowly. Trying to heat the oil too fast will lead to bitter, burned food.’

c. Gently lay your breaded food meat in your heated pan, being sure not to overcrowd.

Once the oil is at the right temperature, and you are ready to add your food to your pan, make sure that you do not overcrowd the pan. Crowding the pan will cause heat to be trapped underneath your food, causing it to steam rather than fry.

Even if you know that your pan coulfd hold more food, you do not want your pieces of food to touch each other. Either cook in batches or use two pans.

Remember that as you take out the cooked food and add another batch of uncooked food to your pan, the temperature of the oil will plummet. Allow the oil to come back up to temperature between batches of cooking…otherwise your food will be soggy.

d. Fry for a minute or two, until golden brown on the bottom, and then flip. You may want to use your probe thermometer to check the temperatures of the meat as you are cooking it.

Keep an eye on the food.

Keep the flame on medium to medium-high.

Make sure the temperature doesn’t get too high. If the oil starts to smoke or turn black, it’s too hot and you either need to let it cool down or start over with fresh oil.

To avoid your breading when you turn your food, it is imporrtant that you not turn the food too early or too often.

Remember that the second side always cooks faster than the first.

Be patient. Leave the food alone until it develops a crust and is easily lifts off the pan. If the food is still sticking to the pan, it isn’t ready to turn.

Be sure to use the proper utensils—such as tongs or a thin spatula—for turning your food, especially when the food is fragile.

e. Drain the cooked food on cooling racks placed over foil-lined cookie sheeta. Keep warm until ready to serve. You could also use either paper towels or brown paper sacks. Of these two, the sacks yields the crispest food.

Once the food has been fried and transferred to a paper towel-lined plate, sprinkle it once more with kosher or sea salt.

Sweet, Sweet Sunday

The Eentsy Weentsy Spider Went Into the Frying Pan

My husband and I have been married, and most night making dinner for about thirt-five years now..but there’s one thing that I have noticed. I tend to gravitate toward those cooking methods that do not require you to stand by the stove for forty-five minutes “keeping an eye” on something…and actually lean more towards stirring some stuff together, putting it in a 9×13, and walking away.

I guess there are two reasons for this.

First of all, I have this terrible fear ofr being burned.

But secondly, I am plain out lazy and just don’t want to stand up.

But that won’t get your fried okra or fried squash or fried anything else on the table, so I am determined to learn how to master these “stove-top” cooking methods…e ventually making it my goal to be like one of those impressive home chefs that can cook without using a recipe…kinda like those people who can sit down and play piano by ear, having not one day of the way-too-many piano lessons to count.

So far in this attempt to create not only healthier eating habits and cooking skills, I have been thinking about what I should, or would< keep in my kitchen if I totally gutted everything and started all over., we have collected a few things along the way…

Even though frying is considered a quick and easy cooking method, there are still issues that come up—such as ruined meals, messy oily splatter, burned fingers, and even minor kitchen fires.

But half the battle is having the right equipment and knowing how to use it the right way.

 

 

1.PanItems that you should have in your kitchen so far based on the cooking methods that we already talked about—sauteeing and stirfrying–you should at this point only have two pans—a saute pan and a wok.

 

Now we need to add two more pans to our collection—one for panfrying, and the other for deep frying.

 

As far as pan frying, many people like to fry with cast iron skillets because they retain heat well, cook evenly, and are just the right weight.

Enamel  or stainless-steel would also be a great option.

 

As far as non-stick pans, some people will tell you not to buy them because the coatings are not always able to stand the high heats  required for certain types of frying….while others will tell you that they are a good option because they help keep the breading on the food, rather than on the pan.

The size pan that you need will obviously depend on what you will be cooking.

If you’re making fried chicken,  you will need something like a large cast iron skillet,but if you are making something more like apple fritters, you will need to grab your taller stock pot or something similar.

 

The pan that you decide to use for any type of frying should be

  • deep enough to keep most of the “oil splatters” that happen as your food fries, contained in the pan itself
  • heavy-bottomed so that the pan will distribute heat evenly without hot spots.
  • large enough to avoid overcrowding your food…always choose a pan that is bigger than you might think you need

 

If you are buying a pan for deep-frying…(more on this later)…you will need to find a pan that will be able to hold 4 to 6 quarts of liquid…deep enough to hold at least 3″ of oil with another 3 inches space between the top of the oil and the top of the pan…something like a 6-quart, or even larger, Dutch oven or cast iron skillet

 

 

So at this point, you shoulld have four different types of pots in your kitchen…

  • Sautee pan…for sauteeing
  • Skillet…at least a 12” cast iron or similar…for panfrying
  • Dutch oven or something similar…for deep frying
  • Wok…for stirfrtying

 

2. Cookie Sheet/Wire Cooling Racks…A cooling rack like the one that you probably use whenever you’re making cookies placed over a sheet pan to drain fried food is a much better option than using a paper towel-lined plate.

Setting hot food on paper towels can make your food even more soggy and greasy. Having the food lifted up from the counter onto a rack will keep steam from forming between the paper towel and the hot cooked food.

Using a cooling rack and cookie sheet will also allow you to keep one batch warm in the oven on low heat while another batch cook.

Line the cookie sheet with paper towel, and then set the cooling rack on top. The paper towel will collect any excess grease that may drip from the food.

3. Spider…A “spider” is a wok tool with a wooden handle and a wire mesh basket designed to drain excess oil from foods when removing them from hot grease…and turn food while “hanging out” in the hot oil.

Because spiders are originally designed to be used with a wok, they are generally larger than what you need to be using when pan frying…so choose a smaller one out of the selection.

4.  Spatula…You will need some sort of spatula for flipping your food. Metal works so much better than either rubber or plastic, which might melt under the heat.

5. ThermometerKnowing the exact temperature of the oil that you are frying your food in is so very important.

As more food is added to the skillet, the oil will drop in temperature…and you may  need to adjust the heat on your stove.so tthat that every single cutlet is cooked to the same golden-brown perfection.

There are two different types of thermometers that you can use when frying food—candy thermometers that clip to the side of the pabn…’or probe thermometers.

Regardless which type of thermometer you are using, It is important that the be able to nake accurate measurements, especially in the temperature range of 350-400 degrees.

The candy thermometer simply clips onto the side of the pan as the food is frying so that you cacn keep an eyer on exactly how hot your grease is.

This type of thermomemter allows you to control the temperature of the oil that the food is frying in. If the oil  is too hot, your food can burn, but  if the oil isn’t hot enough, your food can burn on the ourside bvurt still not br cooked through on the inside.

The proble thermometer can be stuck into each piece of food as it is taken out of the pan to get an exact measurement of its internal temp. You at least want the inside of your meat to read 165°F.

6.  Tongs… You will need to use long-handled tongs to lower food into the hot oil and to flip items so that you can evenly fry both sides.

Use a second pair of  tongs to remove the cooked meat from the oil. It is never a good idea that the same utensils touch both raw meat and cooked meat…might make you sick of something..(another reason not to go eat Korean barbecue.perhaps(?!__…

Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Chinese Culinary Conflict—Jiangsu Campaign

Jiangsu cuisine seems like the aristocracy of Chinese regional cuisine. I say this for many reasons.

First of all, Jiangau cuisine places much emphasis on artistic presentation—carefully arranging the food so that it makes visual impact.

Jiangua cuisine also requires being able to use precise and delicate carving techniques, mastering various meticulous cooking methods—such as braising, stewing, and quick-frying.

Not only that, but Jiangau cuisine is often the go-to for elite banquets and state dinners.

Jiangua cuisine combines several taste sensations—saltiness, umami, and sweetness—in almost every single dish. The flavors tend to be rich, light and fresh. The texture tends to be tender. The emphasis seems to be on soup, with soup being a staple on almost all menus. The foods tend to be highly aromatic.

As far as ingredients, the Jiangsu province is widely known as a “fertile land of fish and rice.” Because most of the ingredients come from the many rivers and lakes of the region, as well as the sea, the cuisine often uses a variety of fish.

As far as spices, sugar is often used to round off the flavors.

One dish that you might find on a menu in this region might be Salted Duck.

Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Chinese Culinary Conflict—Sichuan Campaign

Sichuan cuisine is the most unique of the eight main regional cuisines.

Famed for its bold flavors and use of strong spices, this cuisine was strongly influenced by Indian cuisine.

As foreigners, including Buddhist missionaries and Spanish traders, began travelling through this landlocked, mountain-ringed province along China’s famous “Silk Route.” they introduced the locals to the characteristic spicy flavors of Indian cuisine. The people of the area eventually developed their own unique cuisine based on these influences, a cuisine that is so very different and distinct from any other Chinese cooking styles.

Even though this cuisine is famous for being spicy, not all Sichuan dishes are spicy., many Sichuan dishes taste like fish or fried tangerine.

 

 

Let’s take a look at some of the conventional Sichuan ingtredients…

—As far as meat, Sichuan cuisine gives you your typical meats—such as chicken, freshwater fish, and pork…but you will also find more unconventional ingredients—such as shark fins and bear paws. You will also find that air-dried meats are commonly used.

—As far as sauce, Sichuan cuisine tends to use more sesame paste, fish sauce, ginger juice, sweet-sour sauce, garlic puree, red chili oil….(and soy sauce, of course)….

—As far as spices, Sichuan cuisine uses Sichuan pepper…lots and lots of Sichuan pepper…as well as chili peppers and garlic.

—As far as other ingredients, Sichuan cuisine leans more toward pungently flavored vegetables such as garlic and onions. Nuts and seeds are also commonly used in Sichuan cuisine.

 

A few of the most popular Sichuan entrees that you might find on the menu, kook for…

 

 

 

 

 

Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Which Kind of Fry Guy are You?!

THE ULTIMATE GUIDE TO YOUR NEXT FRY-UP

Recently we talked about the method of cooking called sauteeing, which is a type of frying…but did you know that there are actually several different types of frying…

These include…

Stirfrying

Panfrying

Shallow Frying

Deep Frying

Let’s take a quick look at each of these different methods, before exploring these different methods even further…

——————————————-

1.Sautéing…As we previously learned, sautéing involves cooking small pieces of food over medium-high to high heat until browned on the outside and cooked through, all the while keeping the ingredients moving around in the pan, either by using a wooden spoon or by moving the pan back and forth. This method is typically used for cooking onion and garlic, but can also be used to cook fish, beef, shrimp, and tender vegetables such as mushrooms.

 

2.Stirfrying…Stirfrying is very similar to sauteeing…except stirfrying is typically done in a wok and usually is done before adding any sauce and additional ingredients such as meat and veggies.

 

3. Shallow Frying…Shallow frying is another type of frying, but involves cooking food that has been partly submerged in oil at a high temperature. The main goal in this method is to brown the food. Shallow frying is the method used to make such foods as fried chicken, fritters, and eggplant Parmesan.

 

4. Deep Frying…Deep frying involves completely submerging the food in lots of hot fat or oil and then cooking over high temperature. The main goal of this method is to cook food very quickly.

Sweet, Sweet Sunday

This Blog is About Raw Foods and Diabetes…Yet You’re Gonna Tell Me to Fry Something?

Lately I have been debating whether I should go back to the Raw Foods
pyramid and brutally torture its believers by taking a look at the various cooking methods that we can use to violate that tower.

But I have decided that right now learning about all of the different cooking methods at one time would make it much easier in the future as we start looking at ingredients.

That way, if I tell you to saute or to fry something, you will know that there actually is a difference between the two…and what you should be doing…

So let’s look at the next dry cooking method…the one that is the favorite of Southern chefs, not to mention their husbands…

FRYING…

But frying is sacred ground to Southerners…and a scary territory for diabetics.

So let’s first consider why frying foods has gotten such a bad name?

Then let’s find out what we can do about making our fried foods healthier—okay, maybe not the fried Snickers bars and other Texas State Fair icons…

So…exactly why are fried foods bad for you?

Let’s state the obvious…

When foods are fried in oil, that oil is absorbed into every available nook, cranny, and crevice of whatever is being cooked, meaning that deep frying anything in oil will obviously add a lot of calories and way more fat and calories than those same foods had they not been fried…

For example…

  • Wendy’s large baked potato contains 278 calories and 0.4g fat
  • Wendy’s large French fries contains 420 calories and 20g fat

But have you ever realized that all that deep fried greasy food could eventually lead to…

  • Alzheimer’s
  • autoimmune disease
  • cancer
  • hardening of the arteries
  • heart attacks
  • heart disease
  • high blood pressure
  • high cholesterol levels
  • inflammation
  • insulin resistance
  • malfunctioning of the human brain
  • obesity
  • stroke
  • type 2 diabetes

Knowing now that those who eat four to six servings of fried food per week are 39% more likely to develop type 2 diabetes than those who eat it less than once a week may have made a lifestyle change back in our 20’s so that my husband’s not having to now take insulin shots, like almost every Southern male in America.

So not getting on those scales ever again…Almost goes without saying that those who eat fried foods more regularly are most likely to be overweight or obese. In fact, those of us who eat fried food more than four times a week have a 37% greater risk of being overweight or obese than those who eat it less than twice a week.

Another reason to avoid fried foods…Not only can eating fried foods make you gain weight because…well, because, they’re fried foods, and that’s what fried food does to you….but fried foods can also affect the hormones that regulate appetite and fat storage.

Frying Doesn’t Always Have to Mean Nutritional “Mush”

Grabbing fries from the closest drive-thru and chowing down on some “food” that is honestly nothing but “empty calories” that has lost any and all of the vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients that its original ingredients may have contained. 

Yet we are learning about the different cooking methods here, and frying is one of the most frequently used cooking method.

So let’s learn to fry not only the “right” way, but a “healthy” way that leaves us with a nutritious and tasteful dish that doesn’t have to be smothered with lots and lots of ketchup.

Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Now What?

Now it is time to add some sort of oil to your skillet and actually start cooking your onions.

As far as which oil, that’s left to you…but some choices include olive oil, butter

You want to coat the bottom of the pan. Use 1tsp per onion. If you use too much oil, the onions will fry instead of caramelizing.

And now it’s time to actually start cooking…

You should have the following ingredients…

  • Onions—how ever many onions you want to cook—one large onion will make about makes about a 1/2C caramelized onions.
  • Fat—such as olive oil or butter
  • Salt—this will season the onions and help pull out some of the moisture.

Once you’ve gathered these ingredients, you need to…Add half of the onions that you are going to cook, instead of dumping all of them at once so that the pan will not be too hard.

Season the onions with salt.

Stir the onions gently

How long you cook your onions will be based on how dark you want them to be, what you are going to use them for, and how many onions you are cooking.

As the onions cook, check them every five to ten minutes. As you do this, stir the onions and scrape up any fond that forms on the bottom of the skillet. Adjust the heat if you’re afraid that they’re going to burn.

If the onions start sticking to the bottom of the pan, add a tablespoon of liquid—such as red wine vinegar, balsamic vinegar, or wine. This will not only deglaze your pan, but will also add more flavor.

Taste an onion once they start looking the color that you want them to be. If they do not taste as caramelized as you would like, continue cooking.

Now deglaze your skillet…Now that your onions have finished cooking, pour 1/4C liquid—such as wine, broth, balsamic vinegar, or water. As the liquid bubbles, scrape up the fond and stir it into the onions.

Now pour this sauce over your caramelized onions.

Storing

  • Caramelized onions can either be stored in the fridge for about a week or frozen for about three months.
  • Let the onions cool in the pan before transferring them to a storage container.

Making Caramelized Onions in the Slow Cooker…You could also caramelize your onions in a slow cooker. Thank goodness…because I think that a slow cooker is the greatest invention since sliced bread.

Once you have finished slicing and dicing your onions, add the onions to your slow cooker along with 2Tbsp olive oil. Stir to coat the onions evenly with the oil. Now add 1/2 tsp salt. Cook the onions for ten hours on low, stirring  occasionally to help them cook even more evenly.

Sweet, Sweet Sunday

How to Caramelize Onions—Review of the Sauteeing Method of Cooking

Now we’ve covered all the different steps involved in our first cooking method—sauteeing.

But before we move on to our next cooking method and slowly re-begin our crawl through the raw foods pyramid, I’d like to review the method…by telling you how to caramelize onions…

Caramelizing an onion brings out the natural rich and savory sweetness of the onion and calms down some of its undeniable intensity, sharp spiciness notes, and tear-inducing gases.

By cooking the onions for an extended period of time, the natural sugars in the onions “caramelize” and you end with an intensely and wonderful flavor.

So what can you do with these “caramelized” onions?

Lots___

This is a cooking “staple” that adds a depth of flavor to just about anything, such as…

  • burgers
  • casseroles
  • dip
  • French onion soup
  • grilled cheese sandwiches
  • pasta and pasta sauces
  • pastries
  • pizza
  • quiche
  • salads
  • sandwiches
  • soups
  • stir-fries

Ingredients…Obvously if you are going to caramelize onions, you will need onions…

But there are so many different kinds of onions…which onions should you choose?

Actually we will be talking about onions in the near future as we start moving through the Food Pyramid again.

For now, let’s just use yellow onions. Yellow onions tend to caramelize the most readily and be the most versatile to add to the various dishes that you use them in.

How many onions?

This is totally up to you and how many caramelized onions you think you might need before having to make more… I usually caramelize two to three at a time.

The onions will cook down quite a lot.

Slicing and Dicing…When you are slicing and dicing your onions, you want your cuts to be clean and consistent.

First cut the stem and root ends off of each of the onions.

Next remove the skins and cut the onions in half.

Now cut the onions into thin slices. The onions will naturally separate half-rings. Take time to make sure that your slices are even. If not, some of the onions will be undercooked and some of the other will be burned.

You could also dice the onions, but I think onions “rings” are so much more attractive.

Actually before you start slicing and dicing your onions, you should start heating your pan over medium-low heat. be careful not to turn your heat too high…if you do, the onions will burn.