Sunday, January 23, 2011


FOR THE LOVE OF FRYING........



I love, love, love really good fish and chips, but unfortunately I have not had them as often as I'd like. That's not to say I haven't ordered them many times. It means they weren't so good most of the time. But, when they've been good, I have returned and ordered them again. Why take a gamble when you have a sure thing? Here in Nashville, I have eaten good fish and chips at, let's see....3 places. I'm not implying that they don't know how to make fish and chips here in Nashville. Not at all. I'm sure there are plenty of places that I haven't even heard of that have terrific fish and chips. It's just that when I go out to eat, I have usually targeted in on something in particular that I am craving and when I order what I want and it's really good, well, that place becomes the place for that particular goodie. Makes perfect sense to me.
So, what to do when it's too damn cold to get out and you have that hankerin' for some beer battered, fried goodness? You go to the freezer, get out your cod loins.(yes, cod loins, who knew?) dig into one of your favorite "all purpose" cookbooks, get a recipe that sounds good and get to work. My ole faithful recipe book is the Better Homes and Garden New Cookbook. They have an annual one that updates yearly and I have the one from a couple of years ago. It's their limited edition, breast cancer awareness one. It's pretty and yes, it is pink.
I found a recipe that sounded just right. Geraldo found a leftover (how did that happen?) Foster's beer in the back of the fridge and we were on our way to fry town.
Like every good southern cook, I have a deep fryer on my counter. I cranked it up to 375 and got to work on the chips. Fries, that is and did them the 2 cook version (that's another blog.) I got the "chips" cut, blanch fried and popped into the freezer before fry #2, and went to work on the fish. I cut the "loins" in half and made the batter exactly as the recipe says. I don't fool around with batter. Anything with flour and baking powder in it, is too much like baking to me. There's some chemistry going on in there and I don't mess with anything that starts bubbling before you start cooking it! I did some shrimp, too, only with a different batter. Some seasoned flour and cornmeal, egg and some milk. They were delicious, also. And I'll post the recipe another time. They were a perfect pairing for this fish fry platter.
So, after the 2nd fry on the chips* (see recipe below) I put them into a 300 degree oven, dipped the fish into the beer batter, fried them to a golden brown. Served it all up with with homemade tartar sauce, lemon wedges and authentic pub-style malt vinegar. They were great, folks. No kidding. I impressed myself and I don't do that as often as I'd like.You gotta make these. Use a good brand of frozen steak fries for the chips to make it easier on yourself and use one more piece of fish than you think you'll need. Somebody's gonna want that extra one, trust me. And drop some globs of the batter into the hot oil and you'll have crumblies just like Captain D's. Only fresher, lighter and much tastier. Cheers!!

Beer Battered Fish and Chips
Ingredients
1 pound fresh or frozen skinless fish fillets, about 1/2 inch thick
1-1/4 pounds medium potatoes (about 4)
Shortening or cooking oil for deep-fat frying
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup beer
2 eggs
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
Coarse salt (optional)
Tartar Sauce(optional)
Malt vinegar or cider vinegar (optional)
Directions:
1. Thaw fish, if frozen; cut into 3x2-inch pieces. Rinse fish; pat dry with paper towels. Cover and refrigerate until needed.
2. For chips, cut the potatoes lengthwise into about 3/8-inch-wide wedges. Pat dry with paper towels. In a 3-quart saucepan or deep-fat fryer heat 2 inches of shortening or cooking oil to 375 degrees F. Fry potatoes, one-fourth at a time, for 4 to 6 minutes or until light brown. Remove potatoes and drain on paper towels. Sprinkle lightly with sea salt. When all are fried, transfer potatoes to a wire rack on a baking sheet, arranging them in a single layer. *Put into freezer before 2nd fry. After 30 minutes in the freezer, and making sure your oil is still at 375 degrees, fry the chips a second time until the "chips" are golden brown and as crisp as you like. Keep warm in a 300 degree oven.
3. Meanwhile, for the batter, in a medium mixing bowl combine flour, beer, eggs, baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and the pepper. Beat with a rotary beater or wire whisk until smooth. Dip fish into batter. Fry fish in the hot (375 degrees F) fat, one or two pieces at a time, until coating is golden brown and fish begins to flake when tested with a fork, turning once (about 3 to 4 minutes). Remove fish and drain on paper towels. Transfer fish to another baking sheet; keep warm in the 300 degree F oven while frying remaining fish. To serve, sprinkle with sea salt or coarse salt. Don't forget the tartar sauce, lemon wedges and malt vinegar on the side. I like to have options.

Lisa Rilying-Schmidt "Comfortcook"
At Home On The Range Catering
615-525-8336
comfortcook@gmail.com
lisagschmidt@hotmail.com

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