A new toy (Deep frier)

My wife and her partner run events. They organize the catering, setup, service and do anything else that the hosts need to make the event successful. Last week, they were working on a Bat-Mitzva for 80 people, mostly 12 years old girls. The hosts are very health conscious and don't serve hot-dogs at home. So of course, when they asked their daughter what she wanted to serve at her party, she responded with Hot dogs, hamburgers and French fries! No problem for us, but they wanted to see if we could deep fry the French fries. As one of the food consultants, i rose to the challenge!

First, the place where the event was held has no cooking facilities. It has a warming kitchen with hot plates but no burners or stove-top. My wife has an electric burner that she uses for some of these events. The last time we used it to make pop-corn, so it definitely gets hot enough. Yet, we were concerned that it might not have enough heat for deep frying. So, being of an engineering mind-set, I set out to get a thermometer so that we could run some tests.

My local cooking store was all out of thermometers for deep frying. This type of thermometer should handle high heat (up to 400 degree F. or 200 degrees C.) and it should have a hook so that it can be hung on the side of the pot. The challenge was set, so I trundled off to another, fancier store about 10 minutes away. They were very helpful, but also failed to have what I was looking for. Finally, they asked me why I was looking for a thermometer. After a short explanation, they quickly convinced me that we were doomed to failure. Even if the heating plate was hot enough, the mass of the oil in the pot would take a long time to heat up. Once we put the fries in, it would take even longer to get back up to the correct temperature.

At this point, my wife would have given up and told the customer that we would provide baked French fries. But I could not give up so easily. The problem with strip malls is that everything is in close proximity. Three doors down from the cooking store is an electronic store. My wife has a relationship with this store, so I though to give it a try. What do you know! They had three different deep friers, all about $100. So, I bought one.

This worked out great, we make 8 kilos of French fries at the party, and now I have a new toy. I'm still experimenting with it, so please let me know if you have any suggestions or recipes that I should try.

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