Whoever invented cooking in hot oil was a genius – and a culinary godsend.
Talk about good grub. Give me your tired chicken legs, your poor catfish fillets, your huddled masses of hush puppies. Then watch, as I carefully slide them into my pot of 385-degree canola oil. And don't say it's bad for me. Damn the cholesterol! Full fry ahead!
I've been eating fried deliciousness since my grandma pumped saturated fat into my arteries with scrumptious fried rabbit and lip-smacking-good fried quail. Grandpa and I would bring her game and fish from field and stream, and Grandma would work her wonders with lard or shortening or – brace yourself for this one from the holy gods of goodness – bacon grease. Grandma, oh my dear grandmother, why didn't you cook for me with the more healthful peanut oil or the sesame oil? That's OK, Grandma. I'll get over it.
You can deep fry a lot of things. Just coat them or batter them and let 'em fry. And you can fry chicken wings naked, then toss them with hot sauce, and you've got those famous things called hot wings. But leave it to Paula Deen to submerge just about anything into some hot oil. Food Network Humor lists the following as Deen's top seven crazy fried foods: deep-fried mac and cheese, deep-fried stuffing on a stick, deep-fried lasagna, deep-fried bagel sandwich, deep-fried chocolate pound cake, ultimate fantasy deep-fried cheesecake, and an only-Paula-could-do-it dish – fried butter balls. That woman is the queen of fried foods, y'all!
I'm allowed to batter and fry some of my edibles, even though I'm on a wheat-free diet. That's because I use rice flour, sweet rice flour or another wheat-free flour for making my batter or fry coating. Of course, I steer clear of the Armour lard and Crisco shortening. I stick to my trusty canola oil. And I try to limit my fried-food intake, but I'll never stop completely – never, I tell you. I must fry, and I must eat it.
People have been frying good stuff in oil for thousands of years, I hear tell. Why break with tradition? Yet, some people out there would have us stop right now, immediately, this very instant.
Close your eyes and picture a platter of crispy, juicy, tasty, southern fried chicken. See it? Taste it? Now, tell me if this sounds like any of your friends: "Oh, it's so greasy, and your cardiologist will scold you just for looking at it." No way! Those friends know damn well that that fried chicken is so delicious they'd howl in delight with the very first bite!
By the way, your fried-in-oil eats will not be greasy if your oil is hot enough. On the other hand, if it's too hot, you'll burn those yummy pieces of goodness. But if your hot oil is just right, you'll end up with heaven on a plate. Frying at 375 degrees is best. Get your oil to 385, and when you put your cool food into the oil, the temperature will drop to 375. When it's golden brown on the outside and done inside, remove it from the oil and let it drain on a rack. After it cools down a bit, ignore your friends' health warnings and chow down.
If you don't like the kitchen mess that can come with frying, or if you're simply a lousy fry cook, grab the car keys and head for your favorite heavenly palace of deep-fried joy. It might be a fast-food joint like Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen or Captain D's Seafood Kitchen. I wonder if their kitchens are a mess after all that frying.
Your favorite palace of deep-fry might be a traditional sit-down restaurant. If you're ever in New Orleans, remember the name Maspero, and you have two such palaces to go to for fried delights. Café Maspero on Decatur Street offers a killer fried-seafood plate with oysters, shrimp, catfish and calamari, topped off with french fries. Love it! And Pierre Maspero's on Chartres Street has a similar offering listed on its menu as Pierre Maspero's Fried Seafood Platter; go for it and enjoy the crawfish, catfish, shrimp, french fries and hush puppies. Those two establishments and many more in New Orleans can also feed you my favorite po'boys – deep-fried oysters or deep-fried shrimp, sandwiched inside that pleasing and so gratifying New Orleans French bread.
Yow! Let me wipe the drool from my mouth. You know, I'd rather be wiping away hot chicken juices and savory cookin' oil.
Where's my car keys?