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May 29, 2010 11:46 AM

Frying Novice

I've never fried stuff before. Well, maybe one batch of an attempt at French Fries a dozen years ago.

But I am really enjoying exploring the world of Fried Dough and for a BBQ I'm having on Monday, we are going to try and make a batch of Polish pączki (a great dough based on egg, butter, and rum or brandy).

But what best to fry in? Corn oil? Vegetable oil? Lard? Rice oil?

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  1. Here are some quick tips to get you started.

    1. Find an oil with a high smoke point -- e.g. peanut oil, safflower oil, sunflower oil, and canola oil are some good choices.

    2. Get a thermometer and aim to heat your oil -- and maintain it -- at 350 to 375 degrees F. If you don't have a thermometer, the oil is ready when you stick the end of a wooden spoon into the oil and it bubbles.

    3. Don't overcrowd your pan, as this will quickly decrease your oil temp.

    1. NOT lard. We don't do that to Polish donuts. It would make the taste in this case kind of disgusting.

      You want an neutral oil. Probably not something you are going to get, but Crisco works best.

      Take a look at my mother's recipe for cruskiki that I linked to in one of your fried dough links. There's reallly good advice there on how to tell when the oil is ready to fry.

      4 Replies
      1. re: rworange

        Cool - thanks, Kris. Yep, I will probably go for Crisco. It is what my Georgia-based father used for frying hush puppies. I'll report back!!!

        1. re: rworange

          "NOT lard. We don't do that to Polish donuts." Ummm... and exactly what did the Poles use back when these were invented? Kriszko? Don't think so... I'm trying to think what might have been available that WASN'T lard, and I'm coming up short (so to speak).

          1. re: Will Owen

            I'm old, but not old enough to be around when the pączki was invented. All I can say is that my mother died in 2002 at the age of 84. When she was a child her mother used Crisco. No one in any of the Polish communities I knew in Connecticut ever used lard.

            I'm also wondering if the reason I am unhappy with so many Polish donuts on the West Coast is not only are they usually not fresh, but perhaps they are cooked in lard which would go rancid sooner than vegetable oil.

            1. re: rworange

              No one in the Polish communities used lard probably because they were in America, not Poland, where lard was THE fat. When I was a child growing up in Poland, I still remember having a treat of fresh bread, spread with homemade lard, sprinkled with sugar. I haven't had that in decades!

        2. good luck on monday and just remember that like any other ability, you'll get better at frying the more often you do it - just make sure to drain well all the stuff you fry.

          how about rapeseed (canola) or sunflower oil? isn't crisco just another word for tasteless hydrogenated, vile, murderous, artery clogging trans fat. that stuff is more dangerous than land mines.

          1 Reply
          1. re: epabella

            Crisco is not as hydrogenated as it used to be, and is a perfectly neutral frying fat. A significant number of people find canola to be fishy-tasting, especially for high heat uses, due its composition.

          2. I'm Polish and my family and I have made pączki many times, always frying in lard. We once tried using Crisco, but they just didn't come out as tasty as when we used lard. So, we switched back and they always come out delicious. In my opinion, I'd rather use lard which is much more natural than Crisco, full of trans fats. It's a treat, not like you are eating them everyday.

            15 Replies
            1. re: earthygoat

              I'm not claming it is any health product ... anymore than lard ... but Crisco has been reformulated to have zero trans fats.

              In my little neck of the American Polish woods, even as a kid years ago no one used lard. However, who knows. Looking on the web it seems they were a way to use up lard before Lent. Still sounds kind of unappetizing to me., but lard could be the way to go.

              1. re: rworange

                i'm still in dread of hydrogenated anything (sounds like thermonuclear devices) and the lazy option (wikipedia) provides:

                "As of 2010 Crisco consists of a blend of soybean oil, fully hydrogenated cottonseed oil, and partially hydrogenated soybean and cottonseed oils. According to the product information label, one 12 g serving of Crisco contains 3 g of saturated fat, 0g of trans fat, 6 g of polyunsaturated fat, and 2.5 g of monounsaturated fat."

                rendered animal products seem less menacing and would be the preferred cooking fat of the great ivan putsky - that's how he got to be so powerful and tossed so many wrestlers out of the ring. kidding aside, would any reputable chef in krakow or warsaw use crisco? maybe lard is an acquired taste and i've acquired mine since conception but lard simply tastes GOOD.

                1. re: epabella

                  But the lard needs to be rendered the old fashioned way (I render my own), not the hydrogenated white bricks on US supermarket shelves.

                  1. re: Karl S

                    we don't have hydrogenated lard here in the third world, that's only for rich nations ;-) i always render my own lard.

                    1. re: epabella

                      Yes, but the OP is in San Francisco.

                      1. re: epabella

                        In Canada, the Tenderflake brand is non-hydrogenated. But, home rendered lard is best!

                    2. re: epabella

                      Crisco ... the HFCS of its day.

                      Hmmm ... I'm going to have to check out the grocery in my little third world country to see if they have lard bricks.

                      1. re: rworange

                        but sir/madame, you don't live in the third world - you live in the country that has it all and in the city of cable cars, gay parades and detective harry callahan - not to mention being able to eat elizabeth faulkner pastries anytime. trust me, we don't have hydrogenated lard or predator drones in the philippines but some of us know how to go to isohunt or eztv to get the latest foodshows and cookery books. bye to the hot tamale and go jonathan "obi-wan" waxman!

                        1. re: epabella

                          I am living for the next year in Guatemala ... in the sticks ... I can walk out the door, wrangle a pig and render my own lard ... if that huge hog doesn't eat me first. If earthquakes are bad in SF, in the last three days we had those, the volcano near me erupted and the first hurricane of the season hit. I'll match my third world to yours anyday.

                          So far I haven't looked at cooking oils in the local markets. They use Mazola in our house and not lard.

                  2. re: earthygoat

                    Agreed. Polish all the way back on both sides, and lard is the way it's always been done.
                    You nailed it, though, rw -- the origin of paczki on Fat Tuesday was to use up all that lard.

                    My Babcia doesn't render her own -- she's pushing 90 -- but she still uses the box kind (Tenderflake here.) It's not porky at all and makes for a much tastier product than shortening.

                    1. re: Whats_For_Dinner

                      Wow - wished I had read all this before I went out and bought six pounds of Crisco. I supposed I could return it, but that would mean I'm trying to source pounds of lard on a Sunday night.

                      Oh well, I'll stick to the Crisco for tomorrow' frying...

                      1. re: CarrieWas218

                        Don't worry too much about it -- Crisco will do the trick, and your paczki will still be awesome -- just marginally less authentic than if you'd used lard. I've had paczki from bakeries that I know weren't done in lard, and they were fine, so fry away and enjoy!

                        Let us know how they come out.

                        1. re: CarrieWas218

                          Las Palma on 24th has great lard. In refrig unit on left past the cash register. If I dont want to smell up the place by doing my own I buy there. If your not goiing to use all it freezes and refreezes well.

                          1. re: CarrieWas218

                            Well, despite my leading you down the wrong path to Crisco ... how did they turn out?

                            1. re: rworange

                              They were truly amazing. I was going to write up the whole thing sooner, but was working on the history of the National Doughnut Day (posted today) instead.

                              I'll probably get the whole thing, with recipe, written up over the weekend. But suffice to say that having them warm and fresh out of the fryer was a revelation.

                      2. I've always preferred corn oil for frying most things and peanut oil for oriental foods. It seems these have gone out of favor recently as few cooking sources recommend them. Can anyone explain why? Did I miss something?

                        4 Replies
                        1. re: happens

                          I used to use corn oil myself until after looking into foods and where they come from and it seems that most of the corn for corn oil is GMO. So I switched to light olive oil.

                          1. re: happens

                            Canola has a superb marketing campaign, heavily influencing those who compose recipes.

                            1. re: happens

                              rapeseed grows easier and sturdier than corn, thus requires little genetic manipulation, chemicals or government subsidy to grow as a crop.fine rapeseed oil requires no marketing campaign and is good enough as a substitute for olive oil in a few recipes. ofcourse it won't be as cheap as the regular canola oil in the grocery.

                              i've haven't tried it yet but another fancy new oil is hempseed - extracted from marijuana's low-THC brother. my top culinary idol hfw uses it alot:

                              1. re: epabella

                                Actually, those articles are like a UK echo of the marketing campaign Canadian producers started in the 90s in North America....