6. Fry, Baby, Fry!
The "low and slow" approach does not apply to deep-frying. The technique is meant to be fast: Food is plunged into the hot oil, cooked just until golden, and then quickly plucked out with tongs or a long-handled wire mesh strainer before it has the chance to absorb any excess oil.
Once a food is cooked, it begins soaking up oil at a quicker pace, so the real key to avoiding a greasy glob is to get the food in and out of the oil in the minimum amount of time possible while still ensuring it's fully cooked. Adding food to hot oil will also immediately cause the oil temperature to drop, so make sure you allow the oil to return to the original temperature in between batches.
7. Strain to Extend Shelf Life
Some experts argue that you can strain and reuse your cooking oil. Keep in mind, however, that the oil has already begun to break down from the heat, causing undesirable compounds to form. So if you do want to reuse your oil, allow it to cool until the pot is safe to handle, and then filter it through a fine-mesh sieve to discard any larger particles. Store the recycled oil in the fridge until ready to use. Whatever you do, do not mix used oil with new, because old oil—no matter how many times it's strained—will contain food particles you'll want to keep separate from the clean oil.
8. Reuse, Recycle?
Even though you can reuse oil, it won't last forever. High heat, water, air, and burned food particles all break down oil molecules over time. Unsure if your oil is past its prime? Look for any of these telltale signs that it's time to toss the batch and start fresh: excessive smoking at normal temperatures; strong discoloration; rancid smell; and excessive foaming around the frying food. When disposing of used oil, be sure to cool it completely before discarding it in the trash, and avoid plumbing disasters by never pouring oil down the drain.
Armed with our list of tips and tricks, it's time to put your deep-frying skills to work on crispy French fries, doughy beignets, spicy jalapeño poppers, cheesy mozzarella sticks, and more. So pick your oil, monitor the temperature, and you'll be on your way to achieving golden-brown deep-fried perfection.
Hervé Riou is a chef-instructor at the Institute of Culinary Education. He was 15 when he started an apprenticeship at a two-Michelin-star restaurant in Laval, near his native Brittany. A member of the invitation-only Académie Culinaire de France, Riou is also a volunteer EMT in Glen Cove, New York, a member of the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary, and an avid sailor.