Eat Out/ Eat In: Fried Pickles

By: Jennifer Bierman

Recently, several members from the Food Network Kitchens headed down to Nashville for three weeks to film Trisha Yearwood's new show, Trisha's Southern Kitchen. Most nights we would wrap up late and go to Rotier's, a dive restaurant famous for their grilled and fried Southern food. We saw deep-fried spicy pickles on the menu and once we tasted them, we fell in love. Every time we ate them, we would tell each other, "OK, no more fried food," and then we would find ourselves ordering them again. The balance of the cool, crispy pickle spears with a crunchy, flavorful crust was perfect with the spicy ranch dipping sauce. When we got back to Food Network Kitchens, I wanted to re-create the dish for Family Meal. The recipe below combines crunchy dill pickle spears with a smoky, crispy crust and a spicy dressing that reminded me of my times in Nashville.

Fried Pickles With Spicy Ranch Dipping Sauce
Vegetable oil for frying
3 cups fine-ground cornmeal
1 cup all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons seafood seasoning, such as Old Bay
2 tablespoons smoked paprika
3 tablespoons ancho chile powder
2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
2 jars dill pickle spears, such as Claussen Pickles
Kosher salt

Prepare Spicy Buttermilk Ranch Dressing recipe. The dipping sauce recipe we used came from Food Network Kitchens. We swapped champagne vinegar for white wine vinegar and then added hot sauce to taste. Place the dipping sauce in the refrigerator for the flavors to meld while you make the pickles.

Fill a large saucepot or heavy-bottomed pan halfway with vegetable oil and heat to 350 degrees F.

In a re-sealable storage bag combine the cornmeal, flour, seafood seasoning, smoked paprika, ancho chile powder and cayenne pepper. Seal the bag and shake to combine. Add dill pickle spears to the bag several at a time and shake to coat.

Remove pickle spears, shake off excess and place on baking sheets. Refrigerate uncovered for 30 minutes.

Deep-fry breaded pickle spears a few at a time in the oil until golden brown, 1 to 2 minutes. Remove to a wire rack over a paper towel-lined sheet tray to drain and sprinkle with kosher salt while still hot.

Serve with the spicy dressing on the side to dip in.

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