Let’s face it. Fried food tastes good. A few times a year I need a fried food fix and I don’t think it’s the end of the world.
Preparing a fried food extravaganza takes a little planning, but if it’s done right, you only have one pot to clean and some collateral splatters.
Safety first. Organize what you are making so that the counter is clutter free and you aren’t grabbing for something. Get your mise on. “Mise en place”: having all the ingredients ready and laid out before you heat the oil. Long hair, floppy sleeves and the cat laying in the middle of the kitchen floor...they all have to go.
Arrange your ingredients in fry order: protein first, then arrange to have the most delicate items fried last.
Our recent fried feast was: rabbit pieces (better than chicken!), potatoes, onion rings and artichoke hearts.
The rabbit: cut the bunny up into smallish pieces and soak in milk. Pour 1/2 cup of flour, some salt, pepper and lots of fennel pollen into a plastic bag. Drain the rabbit pieces, put them in the bag and shake to coat. Lay the floured bunny bits on a plate.
The potatoes: Thinly slice and soak in a bowl of cold water. Change the water at least twice. The excess starch will wash off leaving you with a crisper slice.
The onions: Thickly slice and separate into chunky rings.
The artichokes: I had frozen artichoke hearts in the freezer because it’s National Frozen Food Month and I wanted to be patriotic. Blanch the frozen hearts in boiling water and drain.
The batter: Take about a cup of flour and whisk in just enough cold water to make a batter that has the consistency of heavy cream. Whisk an egg white to stiff peaks and add to the batter.
In a deep pan, like a Dutch oven, add enough vegetable oil that the rabbits bits will be submerged. Heat to 350F. Use a thermometer. If the oil is too cold, you’ll end up with soggy fried food, if it’s too hot you’ll incinerate the outside and have raw meat on the inside.
Working in batches, fry the rabbit until golden brown. Keep warm in a hot oven. I set the oven at 350F just to be sure the rabbit was fully cooked. Remove from the oil when done, drain on a paper towel and keep warm in the oven.
Fry the potatoes for about 2-3 minutes, until they turn slightly translucent. Remove from the oil and drain. Don’t worry, they’re going back in for a second fry at the very end. That’s the secret to extra crispy: double fry.
The onions are next. Divide the batter into two batches. For the onion batch add a good shake of smoke pimento and hot chili powder to the batter. Coat the onions and fry until golden brown. Drain and keep warm in the oven.
For the artichokes you could add some zested lemon peel to the batter or a little chopped mint or both. Fry until golden brown, drain and keep warm in the oven.
Give the potatoes a second fry. They will cook much faster so work in batches and keep an eye on them so they don’t burn. Remove, drain and add to the fried food platter.
Generously salt everything on the platter. Finish with zested lemon peel and some finely chopped parsley.
Open a beer, a bottle of chilled white wine and enjoy the feast.
And for those Pulp Fiction fans, not only does fried food taste good, but pork chops taste good, bacon tastes good...! Enjoy. In moderation. Of course.