Shameless Chef

The Shameless Chef: Emergency Donuts

Ever really, really, really need some donuts, but can't get at any? Maybe your favorite local bakery already ran out for the day. Maybe it's Christmas and nobody's open. Maybe it's the zombie apocalypse and you're too busy fending off the undead to look on the Internet for a non-zombified donut merchant. Whatever the case, I have good news. If you've got biscuit dough, oil and sugar, you can have yourself some donuts, my friend. Yes, that's correct: We're finally going to deep-fry something. It is a new dawn.

As I literally just said, you will need:

• One tube of biscuits. • Cooking oil. • Sugar, cinnamon, whatever else you like on your donuts. • Optional: A paper sack, some kind of quarter-sized cookie cutter, OR...

A melon baller. It was the only thing I had to slice out the donut holes in roughly even circles. Fortunately, it worked great.

Pour oil into a big-ass pot until it's deep enough to completely submerge the donuts without touching them against the bottom of the pot.

Now here's something I learned today: Oil does not boil. Not until you put something in it, anyway. I stood in front of the stove like the World's Biggest Asshole for something like 20 minutes waiting for that goddamn oil to boil. Finally, I shrugged, muttered the Shameless Chef motto ("Fuck It!") and dropped one of the donuts in. Well. A good measure of how hot oil is, it turns out, is how ferociously it boils when a foreign object is introduced into it. This particular pot of oil spit angrily at me as if I had come between it and its smaller, baby pot of oil. The poor donut blackened nearly instantly. Risking my forearm flesh, I reached into the mire with my woefully short tongs and withdrew my very first homemade donut.

Okay, so... lesson learned. I turned down the heat, moved the pot off the boil for a few minutes (spilling oil everywhere, because why wouldn't I?), and continued.

The next couple of donuts got a little too brown, so I turned the heat all the way down and waited... and waited. If you think it takes oil a long time to heat up, try waiting for it to cool down. I've spent less time navigating my bank's automated answer service ("Press 8 if you're considering removing all of your money and burying it in old mayonnaise jars in your backyard because a mayonnaise jar will not charge you 27 percent interest shortly before losing all of your money"). After what seemed like forever, I finally had the oil at a reasonable temperature which allowed for that lovely golden-brown shade we're all so familiar with.

Okay, so, once you've got the oil temperature correct (I finally settled on my stove's lowest setting), you're good to go. Drop them in, flip them when necessary, and take them out when the skin doesn't crack open to reveal uncooked goo underneath.

The donut holes are fun. I just dumped all of 'em in and easily cooked them to perfection. Once those were done, I had my nekkid donuts.

Now comes the best part, and one that's safe enough to let a child help you with. Put about 1/3 of a cup of your favorite donut topping in your paper sack, drop a few donuts in, and shake. Shake until the donut is completely covered. You want to use a paper bag, by the way, because it's possible for a plastic bag to melt if your donuts are still hot when they go in, and although you may want a light glaze on your donuts, I don't think melted plastic is what you've got in mind.

I used ordinary granulated sugar, powdered sugar, and a mixture of brown sugar and cinnamon on mine. Dump out the sugar once you've used it, because there will be pieces of dough in there with it which will rot and mold if you put it back in the bag, as I was tempted to do. Oh yeah: I also covered one donut and one hole with maple syrup. It wasn't as good as I had hoped; I think I should have used more, or maybe some kind of syrup-sugar-butter combo. Whatever, all the others tasted fantastic, and it's nice to know I have simple, quick donut options in case Sarah Palin gets elected president in 2012 and shit gets real.

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John Seaborn Gray