Product Type: Russell Hobbs fryers
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Best for white-knuckled, edge of seat deep-fat-frying experiences
Russell Hobbs Essentials Deep Fat Fryer
Member Name: worst_trip
Russell Hobbs Essentials Deep Fat Fryer
Date: 15/06/10, updated on 15/06/10 (258 review reads)
Advantages: Works so poorly and frighteningly that you don't end up eating much fried food from it
Disadvantages: Quality of item itself, capacity of being fit for purpose & the plastic smell it emits during use
So the 'cons' of deep fat frying always outweighed the pros to my mind - the 'pros' being mainly, the possibility of generating home-made pakoras.
Then one day I was in Argos and saw that there was a fiver off the Russell Hobbs Essential Deep Fat Fryer - bringing the price down to £19.99. I 'needed' to spend a few extra quid to get one of those 'spend £50 get a £5 gift voucher' fake offers that Argos sometimes runs (apparently the £5 voucher I got was limited use, and only applied if you used it when you were spending ANOTHER £50 or something like that) so - failing to cut the long story short, I bought the thing.
The deep fat fryer is a bottom of the range model. It's basically a metal vat for fat surrounded by a plastic housing. There's a chip-basket that can be raised and lowered into the hot oil by means of a fold-down plastic handle. The lid shuts and locks over the oil during cooking, and unlocks / opens when you push a button on the side. There are vents in the top to allow steam to escape during cooking. The 'controls' are simplicity itself; there's a gauge for adjusting the oil temperature (you have to turn it all the way to the Russel Hobbs equivalent of 'evil 11' or it won't fry anything at all) and red / green lights on the side that tell you when the oil's hot enough to put the food in / take it out again.
Allegedly it can cook 500g of food at a time. If you get it cooking that much successfully you'll be lucky. It doesn't fry food well in quantity at all; to me the vents in the top of the fryer seem insufficient to let enough water vapour out to let food deep fry properly; what you get out is stuff that seems weirdly part-steamed - which is counterintuitive because of course it's just come out of a great big vat of fat (the fryer part takes up to 1.5 litres of cooking oil at a time). What you do get is a great blast of steam in the face when you open it up after it's tried to fry something, which takes out of the equation very little of the fear of deep-frying that prompted me to buy a deep-fat fryer (rather than playing what Billy Connolly calls 'Parkhead Roulette' - with a shaky open chip-pan of grease over the gas hob) in the first place.
Save to say that we do use this, we shut the sprogs well out of harm's way in another room, and whoever's using the deep-fat fryer has to have another (sober) adult standing by like a 'second' in an old-fashioned duel - to take over just in case the first person is incapacitated (or perishes entirely) during the course of their deep-fat-frying attempt. Health and safety requiring two grown-up people to use one deep fat fryer is a bit ridiculous, really.
Anyhow, either because the capacity for food is too small or because there isn't enough oil to keep it all at a high temperature for a long enough period, or because the heating element isn't up to the job, somehow it doesn't seem to reach a high enough temperature to deep-fry properly. That's my opinion anyway.
The machine is also woefully plasticky. By which I mean it feels shoogly - the very last thing you want when dealing with super-hot oil - both as a unit (while it sits on a unit firmly enough, it's so lightweight that it seems dead flimsy) and in terms of the limited 'mechanisms' it has got: the wire basket that goes in the hot oil seems only tenuously attached to the heat-proof white plastic handle that attaches to it and waggles alarmingly when you try to take it out of the hot oil. The whole fryer also reeks of hot plastic during frying.
I am not a fan of the model at all, which I suppose in some ways is 'a good thing' as it means our deep-fat-fried-food-consumption hasn't increased exponentially since we got it.
As a final note, in completing this review I see I'm prompted to comment on the appliance with regard to the property of 'noise'. Now, while you wouldn't expect a deep-fat-frier to make much noise at all, the drops of condensation falling from the inside of the 'viewing window' in the top (please see accompanying illustration) into hot fat sputter and crack alarmingly; it's even worse when the unit is being opened. So no, in terms of noise quality, I wouldn't rate this piece of kit highly at all, thanks.
Summary: Have a salad instead
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