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French or Wet Frying

This is cooking in a large quantity of fat sufficient to cover the articles fried in it. Oil, lard, dripping, or fat rendered down, may be used for this purpose. Oil is considered the best, as it will rise to 600 without burning; other fats get over-heated after 400, and therefore require greater care in using. Success depends, almost entirely, on getting the fat to the right degree of heat. For ordinary frying, the heat required is 345. Unless this point is carefully attended to, total failure will be the result. There are signs, however, by which anyone may easily tell when the fat is ready for use. It must be quite still, making no noise; noise, or bubbling, will be caused by the evaporation of moisture, or water in it. The expression, 'boiling lard,' or 'boiling fat,' has been misleading to many inexperienced cooks, who, not unnaturally, imagine that when the fat is bubbling, like boiling water, it is boiling, and, therefore, at the right heat. But boiling _fat_ does not bubble. When it has the appearance of boiling water, it is simply due, as already explained, to the presence of water in it, which must pass away by evaporation, before the fat can reach the required heat. When it ceases to make any noise, and is quite still, it should be carefully watched; for very soon a pale blue vapour is seen rising, and then the fat is sufficiently hot. If, from the position of the stove, it is not easy to see this vapour, a piece of bread may be held in the fat as a test; if it begins to turn brown, in about a minute, the fat is ready. It should then be used without delay; since, when once hot enough, it rapidly gets overheated or burnt. Fat is burning when the blue vapour becomes like smoke. Burnt fat has an unpleasant smell, and is apt to give a disagreeable taste to the articles fried in it. With ordinary care fat need not get overheated. Next to oil, fat rendered down (_see_ Rendering down Fat), is best for the purpose. If strained after each time of using, and not allowed to burn, it will keep good for months, and may be used for fish, sweets, or savouries, and no taste of anything previously fried in it will be given to the articles cooked. For this kind of frying, a kitchener, or gas stove, is preferable to an open range.

All kinds of rissoles, croquettes, fillets and cutlets of fish, fritters, etc., should be fried in this manner, and should not be darker than a golden brown. It is an advantage to use a frying-basket for all such things as are covered with egg and bread-crumbs; but fritters, or whatever is dipped in batter, should be dropped into the fat, as they become so light that they rise to the top of it. When they are a pale fawn colour on the one side, they should be turned over to the other. Care must be taken to drain everything, after frying, on kitchen paper in order to remove any grease.


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The Skilful Cook (1905).

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