August 7, 2012
Fried Pickles and Deep Fried Anything
As can sometimes happen during the summer, I got a little carried away with a stockpile of cucumbers from the market, which led to an overabundance of pickles. Normally, after food has undergone one transformation - ie from cucumber to pickle - the ride is over. However, it's a truth universally recognized that it's ok to fry anything - even food that would otherwise be looked at as 'complete.' Just look to Scotland and their penchant for deep fried mars bars, or the tales I've heard of deep fried pizza and mac and cheese, or Paula Deen and her recipe arsenal of, well, deep fried anything.
I have eaten fried pickles only once before in a rather cheesy, BBQ dive bar where to accompany your fried fare, you can also score a fish bowl filled with mystery booze or a trashcan full of punch. The place is classy.
As a pickle connoisseur, they had me at 'fried' and 'pickle.' This was years ago, but I remember having high hopes and then being pretty disappointed when I was served a plate full of rather soggy, oil-laden, limp pickles. So disappointed that I haven't touched a fried pickle since - which, depending on your stance on fried pickles, may or may not be hard to believe.
Yesterday, I was in an experimental mood and in a sweep of the fridge found the last of my pickles staring at me, along with a very random, very lonely can of Rolling Rock. The origin of that solo Rolling Rock has baffled me for a couple of weeks - it was never part of a 6 pack. It just kind of appeared one day, which leads me to believe that it may have spontaneously grown in my fridge.
I did the basic math - beer plus pickles - and ended up with an idea for beer battered pickles. And, in the spirit of frying everything in sight, I also fried the pickled garlic cloves that shared the jar with the pickled cukes. This batch of fried pickles sold me. The beer batter forms a super crispy exterior that crunches when you bite through it. And, to offset the light coating of oil that coats your tongue when eating fried food, I made a buttermilk dip that is at once slightly acidic from the buttermilk and slightly spicy from the Tabasco, all of which combines to cut through the oil nicely. And salt, lots of salt.
The fried garlic worked out well too, but I'm not sure where you could wrong there. Garlic is amazing as it is, then it's pickled, upping the ante, and then it's fried - basically resulting in super-garlic.
While I happened to have homemade pickles on hand, you can feel free to use slices of your favorite store-bought pickles.
What you'll need:
A little more than 1/2 can of beer - feel free to drink the rest
1 cup flour, maybe more
1 1/2 Tbsp Old Bay seasoning
Salt and black pepper
Spicy Buttermilk Dip
1/2 cup buttermilk
Salt and black pepper - generous pinches
2-3 dashes Tabasco sauce
1 Tbsp dried parsley
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp garlic powder
Grapeseed oil, safflower oil, canola oil or peanut oil for frying.
Jar of pickle slices
In a large mixing bowl, combine the beer, egg, salt and black pepper. Whisk well. Add the flour and Old Bay, whisk again to fully incorporate. At this stage, you're looking for ribbons of batter to fall slowly from the whisk, if it's too thin, add more flour. Too thick, add more beer.
Drain the pickles and add them directly to the batter. Stir to coat them.
In a large, heavy bottomed pot with high sides, add about 2-3 inches of oil and turn on medium heat. Once the oil reaches around 350ºF, you are ready to drop your battered pickles.
Use a tong to fish out the pickles and drop them gently, one at a time, into the hot oil. You don't want to overcrowd the pot, so you will need to fry the pickles in batches.
Once golden brown on one side, use your tongs to carefully flip the pickles. Cook for a few minutes on each side and then remove from the oil, draining on an elevated cooling rack. Sprinkle with salt immediately after removing from the hot oil.
While waiting on your pickles to fry, make the dip by combining all of the ingredients in a mixing bowl. Whisk well and taste. Adjust seasoning as necessary.
Serve the fried pickles immediately while still warm and crispy.