After the gorgeous squash cakes and tomato salad from my last post, I have to get a little unhealthy on you for one quick second. But even this, this crazy entry about fried goodness, is totally fine. Because barring one moment where I totally ate fried okra 2 nights in a row, I don’t really eat fried food all that often. So whenever it happens, you just have to let it rip, and revel in every minute of it, because it’s delicious, and it’s a treat, and y’know what? The next day you’re probably going to want to go back to something light, cleansing, and guaranteed to help chase the grease from your pores.
Or at least, I usually do.
About a year ago, I developed a blog friendship with Nishta, from Blue Jean Gourmet. And around this time last year, Nishta mentioned (possibly on Twitter) that her sweetie, Jill, made some mean fried okra.
Being from New England, I had never seen okra in person. I’d only ever heard of it as an element in gumbo. But, having something of a flirtation with Southern food all my life, and loving anything fried, I have been intrigued by the idea of frying okra (or really any vegetable) since I found out that this is something people just….do! My ancestors didn’t really deep-fry. You want a pot roast, or something involving cabbage? A way to figure out how to feed a family on a pound of beans and a hunk of salt pork? My people, the Yankees, the Scots and the Poles, we got you covered.
But breading/battering and deep-frying veggies? Shit, dog, that’s uncharted territory!
And when I see uncharted territory, I barge right in, because who knows when I might end up eating something like Jill’s fried okra.
And trust me friends, Jill Carroll’s Fried Okra is something you want to be eating. These little nuggets of fried deliciousness are enough to make me contemplate running to the store and getting okra right now….when all the stores are closed. Honestly, follow Jill’s recipe. I did, except of course I added some cornmeal in with the flour I dredged in, and oh yeah, I deep-fried instead of doing a shallow fry, because it seemed less likely that I would burn the okra on my first try. Holy god this stuff is good. Seriously, even if you don’t think you like okra, make this. Please.
In exchange for the fried okra recipe, Nishta asked for my fried pickle method. I’ve been working on it for a while, and part of the wonder of this particular batch of fried pickles is that I made them using homemade pickles. Cucumbers that I sliced, brined, and processed by using this garlic dill recipe from Marisa’s exemplary blog. And these pickles? I made them basically the same way that Jill makes her okra.
I took my pickles, and put them in a big bowl. I drizzled buttermilk over them, and let them sit, although I have also done a basic flour, egg, flour dredge. When my stock pot of frying oil (usually vegetable or canola) has reached 370, I scoop the pickles out of the buttermilk, and into a combination of flour, cornmeal (usually in a 1:1 ratio) and salt. Oftentimes, I’ll use Old Bay or cayenne as well, but these are some speecy-spicy dill pickles, just the way I like them, so I left out the additional spices this time.
After a solid coating in the flour and cornmeal, I drop them in the oil, being careful not to crowd, and being REALLY careful that the oil temperature doesn’t drop below 350. When they’re nice and golden brown, I scoop them out to drain.
I’ve eaten fried pickles that were more like doughnuts with pickle filling, and while they’re interesting, they’re not my thing. I like a nice, thin coating on my fried pickles, and a good crisp. I think that the quicker you can get the coating to crisp, the better, because your pickle can also stay crispy.
Oh, and one last thing.
Always, ALWAYS chips. Never spears. Anyone who’s ever gotten burned by hot pickle juice running down their chin knows this. And if you don’t, well, consider this your lesson.
I don’t know about most of you guys, but my menu tends to be dictated by what is on sale that week at the grocery store. This week there was a really good sale on cut up chicken pieces for frying, so I figured it would be the perfect opportunity to try out a new fried chicken recipe. The recipe I used to use was good, but was very temperamental and REALLY heavy, even for fried chicken. So the new recipe I wanted to try was actually easier, and ended up tasting even better.
Its pretty simple, but like most fried chicken, crazy delish. Start out with whatever chicken pieces you want and rinse/dry them thoroughly. Whisk three eggs in a bowl with enough hot sauce (I use Franks RedHot, but Texas Pete is excellent too) to make the eggs look bright orange. Season the chicken with a mixture of salt, pepper, and a dash of garlic powder, then dip it into the egg mixture to coat it completely. Then dredge it in self rising flour. Put it into a skillet that is filled half way with peanut oil at 350 degrees. For dark meat cook it for about 7 min on each side, for white meat, about 5 minutes on each side. It should be golden brown, but if you aren’t sure just check the temp. As long as its at least 165 degrees, you are good. Once its done, set it on paper towels to cool and get rid of some of the excess oil. Once it is cool, nom away
I made an entire chicken worth so that I have left overs throughout the week…not sure how long its going to last though
When it comes to Thanksgiving recipes, my family is pretty set in their ways. We all have our favorite dish, and if it wasn’t on the table for Thanksgiving, we would die. For one of my sisters, it is corn. Not super complex, but a NECESSITY. For my other sister, it is crescent rolls, which unfortunately we often forget in the over and are super overdone. But they are there. For me, its broccoli and onion casserole, again very simple: broccoli, onions and a cheddar white sauce, but hey I love it and it is a must have. My mother tried to change the menu one year and added sweet potato casserole (I know its a tradition in most houses, but had NEVER been present in our kitchen) for my brother in law who was spending his first Thanksgiving with us (god bless him). We were outraged that she would change the menu, even if it was just to add something. I don’t tell you this information to make you think we are resistant to change, just that we feel strongly about our traditions. Fortunately, we do not have our ‘required’ desserts, and it tends to depend on the year, and what we find at the grocery store that looks good. So when we decided to test out some Thanksgiving recipes for our dear Bakezilla, I immediately gravitated toward desert, because to test another side dish would feel a little like adultery to me. So as I was wandering around in recipe land I stumbled across Paula Deen’s cranberry sauce fritter recipe, which sounded ok, but used the canned gelatinous cranberry ‘sauce’ that we are all so used to. She simply battered and fried slices of the cranberry jello, which seemed interesting but not entirely up my alley. However, it did put the idea of cranberry fritters in my head. So I looked around for other recipes and found one that used real cranberries. I stumbled across THIS recipe, which I liked so I went ahead and tried it. The batter was easy enough to make, but when it comes time to handle it, they aren’t kidding when they say your hands need to be well floured…seriously, coat your hands.
I rolled the batter in my hands, and poked a little hole to fill with brown sugar and a cranberry and threw it in the oil. It takes about a minute to get nice and golden. Of course after making about 3, my inner fat kid escaped and had to try one. So I bit into and it was super crispy and delicious…except in the first bite I didn’t get any cranberry…crap. So I put the rest in my mouth and got a whole mouthful of cranberry as well as the interesting texture of uncooked batter that surrounded the cranberry. I think that the cranberry made it too dense to really cook all the way through, and the tang of the cranberry was all concentrated in the center, so you get sweet fritter and then BAM super sour cranberry. Recipe Fail.
Fortunately, I have failed enough times in my life (insert high school math joke here) so I know not to give up. I was determined to make this bastard work…it sounded good and dammit, IT WOULD BE. So I took the cranberries and chopped them up with my awesome food chopper. I love my food chopper…it get the job done and you get to beat the hell out of it . So then I threw the chopped cranberry directly into the batter and mixed it in. I pulled off some dough, rolled it in my well floured hands, then still poked a hole in the middle, but this time I filled it with just the dark brown sugar.
I’m not entirely sure why my hands look like weird chimp hands here, but it was super hard to take the picture with my hands covered in baking crap.
Then I rolled the dough around the sugar and fried it. Once it cooled, I rolled it in cinnamon sugar rather than the recommended powdered sugar.
I did about 10 of those and then did what most people do when they aren’t sure how something is going to taste…I had someone else taste it. Luckily, he loved it, so I knew I could eat one . The tang of the cranberry balanced out the sweet of the batter and the brown sugar in the middle made for a fun surprise. I was really pleased with this recipe. We ate most of them that night, but I may have eaten the last three for breakfast the next day…
This is definitely a recipe that I will make over and over again. I have even seen some people put in cranberry and apple, so its super versatile and I’m guessing can be adapted to most of the denser fruits.
Many thanks to Peter who was my willing lab rat, and just an all around good guy.
I have been promising the guys I work with that I would have them over for dinner for WEEKS now, and the other night I finally followed through. Since they are guys I had to make something that was hearty and filling, but still pretty cheap to make, so I decided on meat loaf and mashed potatoes. I have already gone into my meat loaf recipe, so you guys should know that by now, however I did make a new ‘appetizer’ that I was pretty impressed with. Screw onion rings…leek rings are the way to go! They were so amazing, I was even impressed by myself. All you have to do is take a couple of clean leeks, and cut them into about 1/2 inch slices. Pull apart the rings so that you have about two to three layers per ring. Dredge them in flour, then dip them in a milk and egg mixture, then back in the flour and into the oil (at 350ish) until they are golden brown. Make sure you season the flour with salt and pepper so that their flavor really pops. The best thing about leek rings is that they are more tender than onion rings, a little sweeter and take a lot less time to fry. I still have to perfect this, perhaps add some garlic and try buttermilk instead of regular milk, but even in its most basic form, these round pieces of deliciousness are awesome and I recommend giving them a shot. This will definitely be a newcomer in the super bowl food lineup This is also great because one leek gives you a ton of rings, so its more cost effective
This is all that was left of 4 large leeks with just three people eating…..it was a hit
Thanks for reading!