Method: Gluten Free Pan Frying

Fried Chicken Strips, Onion Rings and French Fries...

Fried Chicken Strips, Onion Rings and French Fries...

I promised it a while ago and have just now gotten around to doing some more pan frying (it’s not something you do every day… you know, it’s a Sunday thing).  I live in a funny place, that has a strangely fused food heritage.  See, where I am is kind of where the South meets the West… so we do things like pan frying, we love our macaroni and tomatoes and our fried okra, but we also love our enchiladas, our chili con carne, our beans and ham.  This is a great place to be if you like food! 🙂  Since I do, well, I’m glad I’m here.

So, to the business of pan frying.  The very, very, very first thing that you should know is that you should only pan fry in a heavy frying pan (preferably cast iron), you should **NEVER** use expeller pressed oils due to their low smoke points and your should **NEVER** fry anything that’s in a frozen state!  Always thaw first or you will seriously regret it.  Ice crystals turn into water pockets that will react with the oil to burn your flesh off… and believe me when I say it’s no fun.

The Hardware:
1 10″ cast iron fry pan
Enough oil to fill it about 1/2″ deep (or deep enough to submerge your food half way)
Thermometer that will read up to 400 degrees F
Splatter screen
Cookie sheet with a cooling rack that fits inside
Tongs that can resist high heat
2nd cookie sheet for warming
3 bowls of similar size

The Software:
2 eggs
1/4 c. milk (your choice, I used almond milk)
Gluten Free Fry Mix (described below)
Chicken strips, pieces, etc, thawed
Onion
French Fries (or use the french fry method from before but stop after the first frying and freeze them for later!)

The Method:

1.)  Be sure that your target foods are thaw!!!  Ice crystals are not your friends, nor are pockets of water.  Hot oil will cause water pockets to vaporize and you will get a very bad burn.  I’ve been frying for many years, please trust me when I say this.  I have battle scars to prove it.

I used a cooling rack suspended over the sink to thaw my chicken, this way all the excess water would come away from the chicken and not form pockets.

I used a cooling rack suspended over the sink to thaw my chicken, this way all the excess water would come away from the chicken and not form pockets.

2.)  Your Gluten Free Fry mix will consist of 1:1:1 of rice flour, tapioca starch and corn starch.  This means that if you have 1 cup of rice flour, you have one cup of everything else, see?  I also like to add spices to my mix to make it a little more interesting.  I always add paprika for color, salt, pepper and garlic to taste.  You might have to fiddle with it a bit to get the ratios the way you want them.  I always build my mix in a large ziptop bag for easy mixing and storage (I never use it all at one sitting).  Zip bag tightly and turn and knead until mixed well.

3.)  Sit out your three similar bowls.  Crack your two eggs into the middle bowl and beat until they well mixed (like you’d beat scrambled eggs), then beat in about 1/4 c. of milk.  Moo milk, almond milk, whatever kind of milk you like.  This makes it a little creamier and easier to use.  In the two bowls on the end, scoop out some of your fry mix.  One scoop for the first bowl and 2 scoops for the last bowl (believe me, you will need more in the last bowl than the first).

fry mix, egg dredge, fry mix.

Three bowls: fry mix, egg dredge, fry mix.

4.)  If you’re ultra paranoid about contamination, do the onions first.  Personally, I figure that any sort of germ that can tolerate 300 plus degree oil deserves a chance to make me sick. 😉  Oh yeah, and heat your oil on your range top to about 350 degrees or so.  This part kind of takes practice to get right.  Always start your oil out low and add heat, it’s much easier than subtracting.  Besides, if you get your oil above 400 F degrees, you’ll ruin it.  No one wants that.

5.)  I like to start with the chicken, so I will.  While your oil is heating (and it will take a while, so don’t rush it), drop your singular chicken piece into the first bowl, cover well with flour and then dust as much off as will come.  Next, drop in the egg mixture and leave for about 30 seconds.  Last, move to the 3rd bowl and coat throughly with the flour mixture again.  Lay out on cooling rack for a few minutes to allow crust to set.  Oh yeah, and be sure to choose a wet hand and a dry hand.  The wet hand only goes into the wet bowl and the dry hand only goes into the dry bowl.  Otherwise, you get club hand and that’s not pretty.

Chicken strip emerging from bowl 1

Chicken strip emerging from bowl 1

Chicken emerging from bowl 2

Chicken emerging from bowl 2

Chicken lounging in bowl 3

Chicken lounging in bowl 3

All the chicken strips waiting patiently to be fried

All the chicken strips waiting patiently to be fried

6.)  Once your oil has reached something in the neighborhood of 350 degrees, gently insert your chicken.  DO NOT DROP THE CHICKEN IN OR YOU WILL GET BURNED!!!  The oil should start to sizzle immediately, if it doesn’t, it’s not hot enough and you’ve just ruined your chicken… it will be a nasty, greasy mess.  Cook your chicken for about 5 minutes and then flip and cook another 3 minutes.  Since we’re using gluten free flours, you will not be able to tell by the color if the chicken is done!!!  It will be pale in the pan and lightly golden as it sets.  Put it back on the rack so it can shed some grease and cool.  Set your oven to 200 degrees F and stick your extra cookie sheet in.

Side one of the chicken, ready to be flipped.

Side one of the chicken, ready to be flipped.

Flipped chicken ready to be pulled out.

Flipped chicken ready to be pulled out.

This is a splatter screen. This is your best friend if you're frying and you don't want to get a bad burn.

This is a splatter screen. This is your best friend if you don't want to get burned while you're frying!

7.)  Once your chicken has cooled, put it on the pan in your oven to keep it warm. 🙂

8.)  For the onion rings, slice your onions into 1/2″ slices and seperate the rings.  Do the onions the same way you did the chicken, going through all three bowls of stuff and resting on the rack.  Bring your oil back up to 350 or so, but don’t allow it to overheat, so work fast!

Onion rings resting and waiting to be fried.

Onion rings resting and waiting to be fried.

9.)  Gently place onions in oil with tongs, and don’t crowd the pan.  You won’t be able to get many in at once, but that’s why we have a warm oven.  Fry for one and a half minutes, then flip and cook for another one and a half minutes.  Pull them quickly and place back on the rack to cool.  Stick them in the oven with the chicken.

Onion rings in the fry pan... DON'T CROWD THE PAN!

Onion rings in the fry pan... DON'T CROWD THE PAN!!!

10.)  To fry your previously frozen french fries, allow them to thaw and then fry in the same oil for 3-4 minutes.  They shouldn’t be so thick that they need to be flipped.  Pull and drain, then stick in the oven with the rest of the party. 🙂  Serve and eat… don’t expect this stuff to keep, though.  The breading tends to pull water out of the air and gets really icky after a while.

11.)  To clean up (allow everything to cool), first drain your oil into a funnel with a coffee filter, to catch any of the nasty bits.  Oil is made to be reused several times.  Funnel into a clean container with a lid.  Rinse your pan and scour with course kosher salt and a sponge (don’t use soap or else you’ll ruin the season).

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