Thanks all for the great replies! Am going to address them in no particular order.
First off, it's never a good idea to let oil sit in a home fryer; especially when using a coating such as the Zatarains. Just leaving it can easily lead to rapid oxidation and rancidness. With the coating, a lot of it comes off the chicken and remains behind in the fryer.
I'll never again let the oil and coating sit for a day before cleaning. With this brand of coating there is lots of 'dregs' left behind. Much more than I ever expected & I need to work on something to correct this. Perhaps dredge chicken in flour, let sit in the fridge for at least 30 min and then an egg wash before dipping into the coating. 5 batches w/o filtering the oil is for sure too many. I vac seal each batch of 2 pieces for the freezer. Huge difference in taste between the first and last batch.
vinegar and a pad of #0000 steel wool. Easy off will clean it probably , but it seems like it always leaves a residue behind.
Agree abt the residue. Been 10 years or more since have used my kitchen oven or cooked anything inside. Everything I cook is outdoors on my deck. Hadn't realized there were so many kinds of Easy Off & will have to make a choice tomorrow.
I never use the cover for cooking,...
Am thinking I need the cover because of splatter, but for sure don't need the filter because do all my cooking outdoors.
The easiest way to clean a deep fryer is to dump it into the garbage. Use a plain wide pot (la creuset works perfectly), fill it with oil, and stick a thermometer in it instead. Instead of a basket use a spider spatula to remove food.
Tempting, but I'm going to stick with the fryer for the moment. Had to google la creuset. Pricey! Bought a Tramontina tri-ply clad stock pot last year and am really impressed with it. A smaller version would be great for deep-frying I think.
Thanks again for all the replies!