Why You Need To Choose Tender Meat For Deep-Fat Frying

From fried chicken to chicken-fried steak, deep-frying is a common way to prepare meats. Deep-frying, also called deep-fat frying, involves submerging meat in simmering fat (usually hot oil) and allowing it to fry until fully cooked. Typically, deep-fried meats get coated in some sort of breading or batter before hitting the oil, such as beer-battered fish or cornmeal-coated chicken. The batter or breading provides a crunchy texture while also contributing to the flavor of the finished product; it also locks in moisture so the finished product won't dry out during its dip in the oil.

The trick to deep-fat frying is to ensure that the meat itself is nice and tender before frying. This method involves cooking meat quickly at a hot temperature, so choose cuts that won't seize up and become overly chewy or tough when subjected to the high heat of the oil or other fat. Chicken, especially dark meat cuts, works well for deep-frying due to its fat content, though a medley of other meats works as well.

The best meats to deep-fat fry

Which meats are the best when it comes to taking a hot oil bath? The classic deep-fried meat is chicken, which you can easily grab a bucket of at local fast-food restaurants. But plenty of other meats can be deep-fried. Beef, pork, and even prepared meats like sausages can be fried to golden brown perfection. Organ meats such as brains and liver also fry particularly well due to their soft texture, as well as foods such as croquettes and empanadas that have meat mixed into their fillings.

Fish and seafood also take to oil well; the best fish for deep-frying are white fish that are delicate in taste and tender in texture, but still hold up well against the oil. Try cod, bass, and haddock for the best results. Shellfish such as shrimp, oysters, and clams also deep-fry well, cooking quickly and providing a chewy texture that pairs nicely with the crunchiness of the batter or breading.

Tips for deep-frying

Want to try deep-frying at home? Be careful and always take proper precautions when working with hot oil; you don't want to end up with a bad burn — or a burnt-down kitchen. Using an at-home deep-fryer with a basket is ideal to deep-fat fry food at home, but if you don't have that, a good Dutch oven and a spider strainer will work wonders as well. Just be sure whatever equipment you're using, it can stand up to the searing temperatures of the hot fat.

While it's possible to gauge oil temperature by visual cues, it's always better to use a proper thermometer to ensure you don't over- or under-cook your food. The more precise you can be, the better your finished product will turn out. Be sure to season your batter or breading with some spices and salt and pepper as well; it'll go a long way to providing maximum flavor. Before eating, drain off the excess oil by placing your fried meat on a cooling rack over some paper towels.