In many kitchens, frying is a dirty word.
Not just for the calories and the fat content, which puts off many health-conscious eaters, but the mess, too. You can clean up oil splatters and air out your house, but if the finicky business of frying isn’t conducted smartly, you’ll be left with regrets.
That’s why it makes sense to get expert advice if you’re going to enjoy making fried food in your own kitchen. “The Way to Fry,” authored by Southern Living test kitchen professional and fry master Norman King, is an incisive primer on the fried arts, offering both classic techniques and lighter approaches for today’s diets.
“You’ll learn how to fry chicken like your grandmother did, keeping classic flavors alive and well, and how to make a lighter, oven-fried version you can proudly serve to your family and guests,” King writes in the introduction.
King educates readers on the best tools, oils, basic techniques and the most important safety steps. If all else fails, there’s a sensible section on putting out a grease fire.
His fried appetizers and party snacks include macaroni-and-pimiento-cheese bites, andouille corn poppers, Hoppin’ John hush puppies, okra rellenos stuffed with cheese, and more.
Vegetables include a peanut-crusted okra, crispy eggplant with tomatoes and mozzarella, and fried green tomatoes topped with shrimp remoulade.
The classics are well-represented, with several versions of fried chicken, plus fried catfish, chicken-fried steak with redeye gravy, deep-fried turkey and two versions of chicken on a biscuit.
Just when you’re feeling your bad cholesterol rise just flipping through the book, you get to the “Lightened Favorites.” King offers shallow-fried and oven-baked-not-quite-fried versions of those fried green tomatoes, chicken-fried steak, coconut shrimp and chicken drumsticks. Also on the lighter side are an array of salads and side dishes that never met hot oil, including citrus-walnut and avocado fruit salads.
The desserts includes beignets and apple fritters, but also flights of fancy: versions of deep-fried bananas Foster and pecan pie, as well as deep-fried Jack and Coke, a whiskey bourbon ball glazed with cola syrup.
The book’s photographs are highly designed, verging on intimidatingly good-looking at times. They do offer enough detail to tell if you’re doing it right, however, and the accompanying recipes are simple and clear. They’re pitched to a beginner who’s brave enough to heat up some oil and see what happens next.
Find the recipe for Andoille sausage snack bites here.