This behemoth has been a permanent fixture in the corner of my kitchen for several years now, and had it not been for the excellent filter in the lid my ceiling would most likely have turned a lovely shade of nicotine-stained fingers many moons ago. It's on every night, given that chips to my family are like water to fish, so I'm extremely well acquainted with this affront to cardiovascular theory.
It's not likely you'll ever come up with a recipe for deep fried food which is in any way healthy, so let's just get something straight right here: steer clear of this weapon of mass saturation if you're even slightly concerned about your weight or the interior decorating of your lovely soft, pink arteries. I personally prefer a whole chicken deep friend in batter to 30 sit-ups a day, so sue me - just don't expect me to make it to the trial without some sort of winch being involved.
I've been through enough deep fat firers in my time to know quality craftsmanship when I see it. You really do get what you pay for, and after a lifetime of going from one £30 chip pan to the next I decided it was time to invest in something with a little more stamina. The Harry Ramsden set me back £80, which was a big step up from what I usually pay for these deliverers of cellulose, but it's been worth it despite what my GP says. The product comes unassembled, but it's really just a matter of setting the lid on the top of the body of the fryer and slotting the handles into the basket; five minutes tops.
There are two independent handles for lifting the basket in and out of the boiling fat, and these are easily removed for cleaning, as is pretty much every other part of the fryer. The interior of the fryer contains a rectangular cast aluminium non-stick tank which can be lifted out using the lips on either side, which just leaves the lid; this can be popped off and washed, and the filter in the little filter compartment can be removed and washed/replaced with minimal fuss, too.
Along with the fryer comes a plastic screw-top container which has a kind of tea-strainer affair over it's opening; this is where you can both clean and store your oil whilst you wash out the main body of the fryer. A lot of grime and pieces of chips and other food accumulate in the oil over time and start clinging to the food as you lift it out of the fryer, so the tea-strainer takes care of most of that for you. The container, which can hold the entire 3.1 litres of the maximum oil capacity of the fryer, is itself is designed to fit neatly inside the empty fryer should you want to store it all away. You get a lot more life out of your oil by using this container between washes, and as we all know food tastes better and better the longer you use the same oil. Genius!
You also get a handy fish scoop, which is like the ones you see being used in proper chip shops. It's a kind of flattened whisk with a long handle which allows you to gently lower your battered fish into the fryer without disturbing the batter itself and without you having to resort to the usually lethal practice of dropping the fish in. Oil-bleached eyebrows aren't as glamorous as they sound.
The exterior stainless steel casing of the fryer has two hefty handles on its sides which are perfect for lifting the fryer even when it's full of oil (don't try this at home. No, seriously.) and are a fine compliment to its "cool touch" body.
After a couple of years of constant use the lid needed to be replaced, because it wasn't staying shut during cooking. In order to have the fryer sent back for repair it would have cost us something ridiculously close the original price of the product, but after a brief search on the Morphy Richards website I realised that buying a completely new lid with a complimentary filter would only cost about £13, including postage to Northern Ireland. Spare parts for this fryer are cheap, easy to find and readily available, which is something I rarely experience with kitchenware or electrical products in general.
The filter in the lid is a wire mesh rectangle and you can find these in most shops which stock similar filters and vacuum cleaner bags. Sometimes, depending on the brand you buy, you'll have to trim them down a bit to make them fit, which isn't a big deal. The filter is washable, and thus reusable, which is obviously more cost effective in the long run.
The maximum temperature on the fryer is 190°C, and maybe it's just me but I've never seen a fryer which goes any higher than that. Having said that, I'm not sure why you'd need anything hotter than 190°C unless you're trying to fuse atoms. The fryer takes about five to ten minutes to heat up, at which point the red light will go out indicating that it's ready for use. Every few minutes thereafter the light will alternate between its on/off states to indicate when you need to lift the food out of the oil. There's an audible "click" when the light switches state, which is handy if you're busy with other things. The included manual gives an overview of temperatures and related cooking methods for things like chips, fish and meats. The maximum food capacity is 1.2kg, although you can fit a little more into it if you want; the only concern with filling the basket to the brim is that it's quite tricky to ensure the whole batch of food gets cooked evenly, but if you shake it around violently enough between dips you'll be grand.
I can honestly say that I've been extremely contented with this fryer for the past three or so years, and am quite happy to simply buy replacement parts as and when needed instead of forking out £30 for a new fryer every six months. Harry Ramsden isn't someone I'm very familiar with but he has lent his name to a fine product and has contributed significantly to my ever-expanding waistline (at least that's what I'll say when I file my class action lawsuit).
I'm not sure what the manufacturers claim about the product's safety, but I've never had a single spillage, burnt forearm or melted cornea for as long as I've used it. Can't argue with that!
The Morphy Richards Harry Ramsden 45076 is a definite heavyweight in the world of boiling fat.
Short name: Morphy Richards 45076