We tried out our new T-fal deep fryer yesterday and are generally very impressed. The fryer is of Canadian origin, but made in China, and seems to be quite well constructed. The main feature of the fryer is an oil reservoir that it drains all the filtered frying oil into when the oil is cool. This means that you can easily reuse the oil several times and keep it in this convenient reservoir between fryings. The manual suggests you might use the oil up to 12 times, but here we are a bit skeptical of that many times.
You control the oil reservoir with a 3-position lever with the settings Remove, Fry and Drain. To cook, you set it to the Fry position, and to drain the oil out you set it to drain when you are done cooking. When the oil is sufficiently cool, it drains through a filter into the oil reservoir.
The fryer holds a little over 14 cups of oil and has a convenient fryer basket to lower and raise your foods, and has a thermostat that can be set between about 300° and 375° F. We found that it took only about 10 minutes to get to 320° and maybe another 5 minutes to get to 375°.
To use the fryer, you pour oil into the fryer so it comes up between the Min (12 cups) and Max (14 cups) markings and then plug in the heating element and start the oil heating. When it comes to temperature the light goes out and you can lower your foods into the oil.
For our first try we made fish and chips using cod and russet potatoes. We probably cooking them longer than needed, but this is part of the learning curve with a new appliance. We also tried double frying the French fries, cooking them at 320, and then after the fish was done, recooking them at 375. This worked well, but again we probably overdid the 320 frying time and will back off from 12 minutes to less than 10 minutes.
The frying basket is not huge: this is not a restaurant sized fryer, but you can do potatoes for about 3 or maybe 4 people at a time (about 2.5 lbs). You can always make more while you are serving the first batch, as the oil remains at temperature throughout.
When you are done frying, you just turn the power off and set the oil reservoir switch to Cool and Drain. This takes an hour or two to cool down and drain.
Then, you can wash every part of the machine except the heater and the oil reservoir in the dishwasher and store them for your next project. Our only cautionary note is that you should remove the basket and frying tub without tipping them unless you switch the reservoir switch to Remove, or you may spill some oil on the counter.
They recommend that you carry the fryer to its storage space without the oil reservoir and then bring the reservoir to it separately to avoid spillage. It is not, however, difficult to carry.
Overall, this is a really nice fryer and for someone who may only do deep frying a few times a year, it is ideal since it stores the oil for you, so you don’t have to mess with pouring It back into the jugs and so forth.