Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Fried Cheese

Bill in Eze overlooking Sant' Jean Cap Ferrat.

Any size, shape or variety is acceptable for this as long as it will hold together when cut. Very rich or piccante cheeses might be better cut small so they will not be overpowering. You are probably familiar with mozzarella sticks. This is closer to traditional with the cheese cut in flat slices and fried in shallow oil. I tried the string cheese mozzarella the other day and it was just fine. I cut them in half though because these can be delicate coming out of the oil.

This is so simple!

Prepare the cheese of choice by cutting in the desired shape. 1/2 to 3/4 inches thick is about the limit.

Dampen the cheese in water. Shake off the excess.
Drop into a shallow bowl of flour.
Coat the cheese in flour.
Dip in beaten egg with a teaspoon of added water per egg.
Lift the cheese out with a toothpick and drop into crumbs(see note).
With your fingers, gently lift the pieces out, patting the crumbs if necessary to stick.
Lay into a slotted spoon and lower into hot oil at about 360 degrees.
These will be done in a few seconds, so immediately turn over in the oil to get the second side into the oil or the first side will get heavy and resistant to turning.
Do not over cook as they will want to burst as they get more molten inside.
Lift out with a slotted spoon and drain on brown paper or paper towels.
Serve still quite warm with a dipping sauce of Marinara or a bottled sauce like ranch or barbecue of your choice.

You may do the same thing with mushrooms, zucchini or other veggies cut into sticks where possible. Consider bottled salad dressings as an alternative dipping sauce for veggies.

OIL: I use Canola because of it's healthy reputation, but peanut oil or even olive oil(Not the green varieties) would do. Do not use anything Hydrogenated.

CRUMBS: I have started using Panko for this. The texture is great, but I find it does not cover fully. Try crushing some to a coarse powder mixed with the big crumbs to make a crust that covers better. Pani Caliatu would be a good choice, but commercial bread crumbs or fresh crumbs all work. The frying time is minimal so anything works.

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