"If you're looking for the perfect side dish for your outdoor barbecue or summer fried chicken recipe, I've got it for you today," says Dane Tullock of Cooking in the Great Outdoors, "spicy corn fritters right out of my grandmother's recipe book."
Tullock's cooking is inspired by his love of the outdoors and his grandmother's classic Southern-style cooking. His grandmother came from Alabama and later moved to Florida where Tullock grew up with her. He learned straight from the source; "I actually have a copy of her handwritten cookbook where all these recipes are" he says. '
These fritters have a couple of unusual ingredients which make them special — pickled onions for some astringency, prosciutto hock for fat with extra flavor, Thai chilies to spice them up a bit and, most importantly, stout beer. "A chicory stout beer is going to replace the water that I would normally add to this recipe and it's going to give a certain creaminess. The flavor of the chicory will come out as well once you deep fry the fritters" Tullock explains.
Tullock pickles the Vidalia onions in pickling juice for 24 to 48 hours before making the fritters. He fries them with the prosciutto hock and a bit of lard until brown. You don't need too much lard because the prosciutto hock is mostly fat; "the good thing about that is that's where all the flavor is" he says.
Tullock mixes his batter, adding a tablespoon of his fresh herb mix, which is made up of sage, rosemary, oregano, chives, salt and pepper, and then some Thai chili to taste. "Thai chili peppers are very hot so you want to add them to taste," he warns. "I personally like really spicy fritters, so I'm going to add quite a bit, but if you don't like so much spice you can also swap them for a less spicy chili like a jalapeno."
Finally he adds half a cup of buttermilk, one egg and 6 ounces of chicory stout beer, before adding the onions and prosciutto.
"When you bite into these fritters, they're going to be not only brown on the outside, but you're going to have some crispiness and brown on the inside from the prosciutto and the cooked onions" he says. The fryer is set at 375 degrees and Tullock explains that it is easiest to use two hands when placing the dough in the hot oil; "one hand to hold the ladle and one to move the dough off the ladle into the oil." Tullock cooks them for one minute on each side until they are golden brown.
Tullock pairs his fritters with some grilled trout he cooked earlier in the day, but as he said they would go great as a side with any summer meal. "They're golden brown and crispy on the outside and nice and moist on the inside" says Tullock as he takes a bite. "Mmm, hear that crunch!" He washes it down with some of the chicory stout beer. "That's the best thing about being a cook — you get to sample all this great food before you serve it to your friends and family."
1 cup sweet Vidalia onions, diced and soaked in pickling juice for 24 hours
1 tablespoon lard or Crisco
2 tablespoons prosciutto fat
11/2 corn meal
1/2 cup bread flour
4 tablespoons baking powder
1/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon fresh spice mix (sage, rosemary, oregano, chives, salt, pepper)
Thai chili peppers to taste (can substitute jalapeé±os, Serrano or other peppers)
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 egg, scrambled
6 ounces chicory stout beer
Set temperature of deep fryer at 375 degrees F.
1. Saute onions in a pan with lard or Crisco. After onions become translucent add prosciutto fat and continue cooking under low heat until browned.
2. In a mixing bowl, add corn meal, bread flour, baking powder, sugar, spice mix and chili peppers.
3. Add buttermilk, egg, beer add onion mixture. Stir together, adding more beer if too dry or more flour if too wet. Batter should easily go onto and out of a large mixing spoon.
4. When deep fryer is fully heated, take a spoon, fill with batter, and place about 3 to 4 inches over the hot oil. Using your fingers on the other hand, carefully slide the batter off of the spoon into the batter. Repeat until you have about 4 fritter balls.
5. Balls will rise to the top of the oil. After one minute, turn balls over to cook evenly on the other side.
6. Remove fritters when golden brown. Scoop from the oil onto a paper lined drying dish and serve when cooled but still warm.
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Recipe courtesy of Dane Tullock, Cooking in the Great Outdoors, 2012.