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Page:Mrs Beeton's Book of Household Management.djvu/159

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117
INTRODUCTION TO COOKERY

in fat. It is the quickest mode of cooking, because melted fat or oil can be brought to a high temperature, and, by contact with it, the food fried is very quickly and very much heated. All fried food is heated beyond boiling water point on its surface; if the frying is prolonged the meat is over heated throughout, so that this method is not fitted for food that should be slowly cooked at a low temperature, such as tough meat.

The point to which fats or oils may be heated varies, some burning much more readily than others. About 350° to 400° is a suitable temperature; it can be higher, it should sometimes be lower for things that need slow cooking, but it is usually better to begin at a high temperature and lower it afterwards. The temperature is always lowered, by putting in the cold things to be cooked, to a degree that is determined by the relative quantity of fat and food, and by the sort of food.

The temperature can be taken accurately with a thermometer constructed specially for the purpose; it can be taken approximately by several homely devices.

1. Drop in a few drops of water. If the fat bubbles thereupon, it must be hotter than 212°; if it bubbles smartly it may be taken at over 300°.

2. Drop in a piece of bread and take it out at the end of half a minute. If the bread is crisp the fat is about 350° or more.

3. Parsley that becomes crisp immediately it is dropped in means fat at 350° or more.

4. The more violent the bubbling when anything is put in the hotter the fat.

5. A thin, filmy, blue smoke rises when the fat is fit for frying, and then becomes thicker until the fat is burning, when there is a dense cloud.

6. Fat, unless it has left off bubbling and is quite still, is never hot enough to fry.

These rules are true of all fat, and more or less of all frying. But there are two ways of frying, known to cooks as DRY FRYING, and frying in deep fat; the later method being also known as "French frying." The former is more common; the latter is more economical, and produces better results.

Deep frying or frying in a saucepan, means that there must be fat enough to cover what is fried, and a pan deep enough to contain it. It is economical, for the fat can be used over and over again, and, if sufficiently hot, does not soak into the food fried, which consequently comes out quite dry and without any of the greasy moisture of frying-pan cookery. In the long run less fat is used than for ordinary dry frying; though, of course, there is a greater outlay to begin with.

An iron or steel saucepan must be used, as the heat of the fat melts the solder of a tin pan; it is a good plan to keep one for the purpose.