With all this talk of French fries and turkey confit and other oil-submerged delights lately, it's time to address an age-old question: Can you reuse oils and fats? I mean, the stuff isn't cheap when you're using quarts of it at a time and just tossing it.
And the answer is: Yes! Or no! It's complicated (a little). The keys lie in how much you abused it to begin with, how you treat and store it, and what you plan on doing with it afterward.
As you may have noticed, I've been deep frying stuff lately. When you do it yourself is enough of a pain in the ass that you're unlikely to do it enough to seriously damage your health. On the other hand, once a week is fun. People in America aren't fat because they eat one serving of fried food a week.
Anyhow, you don't need a special appliance. You just need:
- A big heavy pot. The bigger the better, because it gives you a nice margin for error. I use my 16-quart stockpot. You've got a giant stockpot right? You know, the one you use to make stock, because you need stock.
- A gallon jug of peanut oil. This can be surprisingly difficult to find. I've only used peanut oil and have no complaints. Optimally, you might use more oil, but 1 gallon will do, particularly if you're patient enough to work in batches.
- A powerful burner. If you can't bring the temperature of the oil back up after the food goes in, you're kinda sunk. If you have a wimpy stovetop, this probably doesn't work.
- An "Asian" circular wire skimmer. For scooping things out. You don't need any sort of basket contraption.
- A thermometer that clips on your pot so you know how hot the oil is at all times. Necessary for debugging.
- A funnel for getting used oil back in the jug. The cleanup is surprisingly easy. You just need to find someone to hold the funnel.
I'm making Michael Symon's Crab Tater Tots for a party tonight. I expect them to be delicious.