Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Southern "Fry Fest"

Sorry about how long it's been since my last blog. I have had my sister here visiting and she loves to eat out.....which is nice for me "sometimes" but if I'm too long out of my kitchen I tend to get "antsy". However, this past couple weeks gave me a chance to explore around, getting ideas and one such idea evolved into my husband, in the kitchen with a deep fryer, frying every darn thing he could get his hands on. It initially was supposed to be an attempt to recreate TGIFriday's deep fried green bean appetizer...something the girls and I fell in LOVE with. We're still working on duplicating the batter, but I CAN tell you that my husband makes the best chicken nuggets, deep fried shrimp, onion rings and fried green tomatoes I've ever had...and here are some deep frying secrets in case you'd like to embark on your own "fry fest". Now I know.....this IS the South, and we like to deep fry EVERYTHING (I once ate a deep fried Twinkie that I can NOT stop thinking about)--but I still would not advocate doing this very often. But if you DO decide to try it, I want you to enjoy it (both the taste AND the experience) as much as we did. So here goes:

decide on whether you want to use a batter or a breading. Batters are usually thicker and often crispier...they're my personal favorite--and they're a wet coating. A breading is something that you wet the item you intend to fry, then cover it with the coating. For a good batter, use eggs, flour, maybe some corn meal if you have it and try to mix it all together with some type of liquid that has "carbonation" maybe beer, or if not, club soda. The bubbles make the batter "fluffier" and help it to stick. For onion rings, soak the onions in ICE cold salted water for as long as possible (overnight is optimum). Make sure to season all meats (both sides) prior to dipping into the batter (or breading if that's what you choose). You can buy batter and breading mixes in the stores in the spice aisle and frankly, they are easier sometimes (and faster) than trying to make your own. Experiment with several types while you're having your "fry fest"..this makes it even tastier and more fun.
For fried green tomatoes, make sure you choose a green tomato that is nice and firm. Slice it thinly and salt (and pepper if you desire) on both sides. Coat with batter and deep fry for only a minute or two, until the batter is nice and brown. Too long will make the tomato "mushy" and you don't want that.

Dipping sauces make the fry fest experience even better--fried green tomatoes are traditionally served with ranch dressing, but a wasabi ranch is really nice, just squeeze about 1 T. of wasabi paste into about 1/2 to 1 c. of ranch dressing. A spicy ranch dressing is great for onion rings (similar to the sauce restaurants use on "bloomin' onions) and kids will appreciate the traditional ketchup. One of my personal favorites to use for dipping sauce is Publix brand Mango Poppyseed Dressing. Sorry to everyone who doesn't have a Publix available, but maybe you could still locate the dressing by another company...it's yummy.

I highly recommend a deep fryer for this endeavor but if you are going to use a pan, use a heavy one with high sides and don't take the oil level up more than about halfway. Also, using vegetable or canola oil reduces the smoking factor. Your oil needs to be between 350 and 365 degrees, and keep everything that you put into the pot or fryer for each batch uniform in size. Really this is similar to a "fondue" type of experience, just on a much larger scale. lol. But have fun, experiment and PLEASE post if you decide to try to deep fry something other than what I've suggested...my girls wanted to do candy bars but we didn't want to use the same oil we'd just done shrimp and catfish in, so let me know if ya'll give that one a try, ok? I'd recommend freezing the candy bars for a while before battering and deep frying.

Missed ya'll while I wasn't blogging....hope to get back on a somewhat regular schedule soon. Please keep those recipes and ideas coming. I'm back to cooking now, so I'm gonna need the suggestions...I'm a bit rusty!

Today's food quote: "Two can live as cheaply as one...if one of 'em ain't eatin'" Southern Food quote.

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