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Peanut oil quality -- does it matter?

post #1 of 14
Thread Starter 

Well, I'm going to give fried chicken another try over the Christmas holiday.  I tried it for the first time over Thanksgiving, and it tasted...burnt.  Take a look at the attached pic to see what I mean.  There's some blackened spots for sure...and not the good "Paul Prudhomme" kind of blackened either :)


Anyway, it occurred to me that perhaps my bargain store brand (Stop and Shop) peanut oil may be the culprit.  Is it possible that cheaper peanut oil can break down faster and contribute a burnt flavor to fried foods?  Or did I fry the chicken for too long? OR was the oil too hot?  OR was the flour dredge to blame, since that causes a very fast breakdown of oil?


Speaking of oil temp, the recipe calls for the oil to be heated to 425 (near the smoke point), but only to compensate for the huge temperature drop when the chicken is added.  The rest of the frying is done in 300 degree oil.


I'd be willing to a) buy higher quality peanut oil or b) buy avocado oil for its higher smoke point if I can rule out this variable for the burnt chicken.


Thanks in advance!


post #2 of 14
Maybe you should check the oil with a thermometer while frying to see if it actually drops that much. In my experience it doesn't unless you overcrowd. The oil could very well be too hot and start breaking down. I use cheap peanut oil and dont usually have this problem.
post #3 of 14

Peanut oil quality matters BIG TIME. In my experience, it must be cold pressed, 100% peanut, and not refined, tho that oil could be an issue for alergic people. Good peanut oil smells and taste wonderfully (and cost an eye and a half). Refined peanut oils are obnoxious.

Gebe Gott uns allen, uns Trinkern, einen so leichten und so schönen Tod! Joseph Roth.
Gebe Gott uns allen, uns Trinkern, einen so leichten und so schönen Tod! Joseph Roth.
post #4 of 14

Fried chicken should look like this........I suspect that the 425 oil browned the flour too fast and it was down hill from there.

I fry chicken at 325. I would use a neutral oil like canola or shortening, not peanut.

post #5 of 14
I always use peanut oil for frying chicken and I do not use a thermometer. Your chicken looks like it was shallow fried (too little oil which gets too hot too fast) had too much flour on it and was cooked at too high a heat.

Deep fry. It requires more oil but the result is worth it. It is much easier to control frying in a deep fryer and cooks more evenly. It also causes less smoke in the house.

After you dredge your chicken you have to shake off excess flour and then let it rest. The skin will sort of absorb the oil making a very dry surface that will crisp up.

When it comes to temperature I start hot and then turn it down so that the chicken is simmering gently in the oil. You don't want a hard boil on the chicken past the first minute or so.

"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."


"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

post #6 of 14
Thread Starter 

Some really good stuff here everyone!


-chefbuba: That pic was very helpful.  Judging the right shade of "golden brown" is surprisingly difficult for fried chicken newbies.  And about the temp: I think you may be on to something, but do realize that the 425 degree temp immediately plunged when I added the chicken.  And I did use a fry thermometer and it fried at 300 degrees for the duration of the cooking.  But I may very well heat the oil to only 375 this time and then lower it to 300 once the chicken is in.


Also: I did use refined (tasteless) peanut oil.


-Koukouvagia: Indeed I shallow-fried it.  The problem was that the oil unevenly covered the chicken: some pieces were only half covered (as they should be), yet some were nearly completely submerged.  This made it impossible to fry everything evenly.  I don't have a deep fryer, but perhaps using my dutch oven and more oil to deep fry (along with my thermometer) will be easier.


And I did shake the hell out of the chicken to get all excess flour off, but thanks for the reminder :)

post #7 of 14

Pan frying things properly takes time and experience. I can't tell you how many times I botched stuff when I first started cooking, now it seems second nature. Practice on breaded cutlets, they are easy.

post #8 of 14
I have no need for a deep fryer either, as if I have room to store such things. I deep fry in my Dutch oven which is great because it retains heat so well.

Shallow frying takes a lot of work. You constantly have to canoodle the pieces around and you still won't get even cooking. Deep frying believe it or not causes less mess, no splatter, no smoke and cooks chicken evenly.

"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."


"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

post #9 of 14

I am in the shallow fry camp.


I cut up the chicken the nite before and leaving it wet from the final rinsing I let it "dry" brine overnite.

Then let it come to almost room temp before starting.


I also don't use any extra liquid to make the flour stick...only what salty water remains on the pieces.

No dairy or eggs equals less chance of burning.

Is still tender, moist and full of flavor....


So using the wet room temp brined chicken...dredge...then let it hang out a bit for the flour to absorb the water before gently placing in hot oil and covering.

When the bottom is pretty and I see some blood peeking thru the top I turn and finish with the cover off (trick to keep the bird crispy not soggy as it allows the extra moisture to escape).


During my farming days we would use some of the cotton seed that was ginned off and have made into oil.

It smells like roast beef gravy during the seed toasting stage and was great for frying.


Alas those days are far behind me ;-)



Edited by flipflopgirl - 12/24/15 at 8:02am
post #10 of 14

I don't use a thermometer to check oil temps.

Using a wooden spoon stick the end of the handle in the hot oil .

You will see it bubble when it is time.

Not so scientific but it works for me.



post #11 of 14

Lol never addressed the question!


Don't know if it is in my head or on my palate but I can taste the peanut in peanut oil (use a brand from Louisiana don't remember the name)

We do use it when frying lots of fish as it will last longer without breaking (and the fish dredged in seasoned flour/cornmeal seems to cover any peanut flavor).

Like @chefbuba I use veg oil or solid veg shortening for any sort of frying (like my mom did).



post #12 of 14

I marinade in buttermilk, season, and coat with flour.  Fry at 325 to 350 in shortening or lard one half to three quarter inch deep.  I believe that Crisco  was and may still be made from cottonseed oil.

post #13 of 14
Originally Posted by Jimyra View Post

 I believe that Crisco  was and may still be made from cottonseed oil.


Not to hijack this thread but thanks for pointing this out.

The internet being the internet Crisco may or may not still contain cottonseed (for sure if it does it is no longer hydrogenated...I THINK lol ;-) but there seems to be a shitpot full of other products that contain it (such as PEANUT BUTTER???)

For sure it is GMO.

The seed has been tinkered with to add a gene to repel well as to strengthen the flowers and bolls so as not to shed so easily during high winds/hard rains (sure there are other tinkerings that have been done as well but I have no clue what).


We would set aside an acre or so for our oil seed...not using any chemicals other than fertilizer.

We tried releasing lacewings and a couple of other beneficial insects for a couple of years but they cost more than they were worth.



Anyway thanks for the info....



post #14 of 14

I looked on my trusty jar of my trusty Peter Pan.  Less than 2% hydrogenated vegetable oil.  Cottonseed and Rapeseed (Canola) oil.  All GMO products I am sure.  Monsanto rules the fields the people lose.

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