Kessel: Frying turns pickles into tasty snack
When I moved south of the Mason-Dixon line, I learned a lot of things. Like if you ask for tea in most restaurants you’re likely to get it iced and sweet. It’s not a shopping cart down here, it’s a buggy; and a pig and a pit equals a party. I also learned deep-frying lends a certain crispy splendor to almost all foods – even briny dill pickles. My first plate of fried pickles, or "frickles" as some call them, was at least 20 years ago. They were served at a seafood restaurant in Jacksonville. I became an instant fan. Wherever I've lived since I've actually sought out the crisp, lightly breaded pickle snacks that are accompanied by ranch dip or remoulade sauce. Some people like them with hot sauce.These babies make an ideal late-afternoon nibble. Add a cold beer and life is good. I think I have a recessive gene that makes it impossible for me to stop eating them when I should. I can down an entire plateful in one sitting. Fried pickles are a unique alternative to typical appetizer selections, such as Buffalo wings, nachos and mozzarella sticks. The problem is that not everyone makes them. Now, when the craving hits, I head to the Seafood Dive at 3858 State Road 674 in Sun City Center. This is one of the few restaurants I know to offer what I find is everything a pickle should be. Fried pickle chips are traditionally pickle chips. I've ordered them on occasion, only to find soggy, breaded fried pickle spears. While it's tough to find fault with anything battered and crisped until golden brown, the higher ratio of pickle-to-breading wasn't my thing. I prefer the sharp acidity of a silver-dollar size slice of dill that has taken a dip in a buttermilk batter. The natural moisture of the pickle holds the batter. Even if you avoid deep-fried foods, there's a very good chance one taste will seduce you into having a go at a batch of fried pickle chips. If you can't find any nearby, then fry some at home. I’ve included a recipe this week. WARNING: They’re addictive and I am in no way responsible. Enjoy.
FRIED PICKLE CHIPS
3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup cornmeal
3/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon pepper
1 cup buttermilk
1 quart hamburger dill chips
Combine flour, cornmeal, salt and pepper. Mix well. Dip pickles into buttermilk and dredge in the flour mixture. Deep fry the coated pickles in hot oil at 350 degrees until they float to the surface and are golden brown. Drain them on paper towels or brown paper bags and serve immediately. Dip in ranch or blue cheese dressing.
Makes eight dozen.
Lynn Kessel is a freelance food columnist. For more of her recipes, visit southshore.tbo.com and enter the search words Lynn Kessel.