Fry me A River

Not that kind of labor…

It is a straight-up labor of love.

It’s also delicious and addictive.  So much so, that when I make it, it goes directly to The Kid’s house because I can literally eat it by the pound.

It’s fried pasta.

Not that kind of Strange…

I know, it sounds strange. 

Years ago, before I was much of a cook, there used to be an Italian restaurant near us where we often ate.  They had some wonderful dishes.  One of our favorites was an appetizer that was a riff on nachos.  Instead of corn chips, they used pieces of fried pasta.

I decided to recreate the pasta portion.  But of course, I had no idea how.  I also wasn’t as shameless as I am now when it comes to asking for recipes.  If it happened now, I would ask to be in the kitchen and watched the procedure.

So, I was on my own to figure it out.

First I tried using raw pasta, thinking the frying would be the only cook it needed.  Yeah, that didn’t work. 

Frying something draws out the liquid and seals it in that delicious crispy, fried crust.  Dried pasta contains no water—that’s the whole point of drying it.  Frying left it greasy on the outside and hard enough to etch glass.

Then I tried cooking it and frying most of it in one batch.  I got a tough, chewy brick.  I then put less in at one time and it still stuck together.  Finally, I only put in three or four in at a time.

I had to adjust the time spent in the oil so it would come out GBD (golden brown and delicious).  If you just wait until the bubbles stop, that means that all the water is out of the product so it is perfectly crispy.

But I was left with something that was incredibly messy, made the house smell like a fast-food joint, and at a few at a time, took hours.

So, I made it for The Kid, but rarely, and half the time gave up before all the pasta was fried.  Which wasted food.

At Christmas, I make The Kid one gift each year.  Last Christmas I decided to fry pasta.  But I was really dreading the slog. 

While making marshmallows, I got to thinking.  There aren’t many stickier substances known to man than marshmallow goo.  But when they are coated in corn starch, all the outer stickiness vanishes.

So I tossed the pasta in corn starch before frying.

It worked.  I still couldn’t fill the pot, but now I could do 10-12 at one time, making the job so much faster.

Of course, it’s still a slow, messy, involved process.  But so worth it.  In fact, without careful rationing, you’ll probably eat them faster than the cooking took.

But soooo worth it.

Thanks for your time.

Contact debbie at d@bullcity.mom.

Fried Pasta

16 ounces bowtie pasta

Corn starch

Vegetable oil

Fine sea salt & pepper

Herbs, spices, cheese powder, ranch seasoning (optional)

Cook the pasta in heavily salted water until al dente.  When done, drain and toss with ¼ cup corn starch.

Lay out in a single layer on parchment-lined tray.  

Set up frying station:

Put paper towels on large rimmed baking sheet.  Place salt, pepper, flavorings nearby.  Put pan on medium heat, fill about halfway with oil, and heat to 350 degrees.

Fry:

To minimize it sticking together, do no more than 10-12 pieces at a time. Gently place pasta into hot oil, one at a time. If they try to stick, gently separate them.

Fry until golden, and bubbling has stopped.  Remove to lined baking sheet, and season. 

Big Dipper

You know how when you buy a car you then see that kind of car everywhere?It’s funny that you never noticed all those 1975 AMC Gremlins on the streets of the Bull City until you were rocking your very own groovy ride.

It’s been that way this week with dip.

I’d been thinking about doing some snacks for watching the big game.  I wanted to do something really different.

I saw this dish on Chopped on Food Network.  It hails from Greece.

Skordaliaskordalia2 russet potatoes, peeled, cut into ¾ inch cubes

½ cup almonds (I love Marcona almonds, but use what you like)

1 head of roasted garlic, or 6-8 cloves raw garlic

1/3 cup fresh lemon juice

¾ cup olive oil

2 tablespoons cold water, + more as needed

Salt & pepper to taste

Rinse suds under cold water to get rid of some of the starch.  Then cook potatoes in heavily salted water until they are very tender—a little softer than you’d want for mashed.  Drain, rinse again, then spread out onto a baking sheet and cook in a 250 degree oven for about 10 minutes to really dry them.

While the potatoes are cooking, put the garlic, almonds, lemon juice, and 2 tablespoons water into a food processor.  Blitz until it becomes a smooth paste.  Season, taste, and season again; remember lemon needs lots of salt.

When the potatoes are cooked and dried, either put them through a ricer, a food mill, or mash them with a potato masher until they are completely smooth.Put potatoes and garlic/almond paste into a mixer fitted with the whisk attachment if available.  Mix on low until it becomes a smooth emulsion.  If necessary (if it wants to separate), add more cold water a tablespoon at a time until fully cohesive.

Makes about 3 cups.     

I’m not normally somebody who likes to put a carb on a carb (pizza or wraps with potatoes are criminally wrong).  But I really think this would be legendary eaten on shards of fried pasta.  And also, pretty darn unique.  Skordalia is also expectantly good on grilled meat.

Fried pasta chipsfried-pasta16 ounces lasagna—not the no cook kind

Vegetable oil

Fine sea salt & pepper

Cook the pasta in heavily salted water until al dente.  When done, drain and gently mix with a little oil, to keep from sticking.

When cool, cut each noodle into 2-inch wide strips (you should get five from each).  Lay out on parchment-lined tray.  

Set up frying station:

Put paper towels on a large rimmed baking sheet.  Set next to the burner you’ll be using for the frying portion of the program.  Place salt nearby.  Put saucepan on medium heat, fill about halfway with oil, and heat to 350 degrees.

Fry:

Pasta really wants to stick when frying.  To minimize, do no more than three pieces at a time. Gently place pasta into hot oil, one at a time, slowly and carefully. They’ll drop to bottom. Leave them alone until they pop up.  At this point they will have a little protective skin to help keep them from sticking.  If, after all this, they try to stick, gently separate them.Fry until lightly golden, and most of the bubbling has stopped.  Remove to lined baking sheet, and salt. 

They take a while, and honestly, are pretty messy.  But they are shockingly delicious and addictive.  The Kid would mug a little old lady for fried pasta.

I have one more unexpected dip and its vehicle.

Peel two pounds of regular carrots and cut ½-inch slices diagonally so they resemble chips.carrots-and-dipPut 2 cups of peanut butter into a bowl, and whisk in a big pinch of Chinese five-spice powder and cayenne pepper to taste.  If needed, whisk in a little cold water until you have dip consistency.  Season with salt and pepper, taste, and season again, if necessary.

Refrigerate dip and keep carrots cool until service.

So, here are a couple ideas for game day snacking.  They work for all manner of contests.  It could be gin rummy, judging fashion on the red carpet, or even if your game is one of thrones.

Any type of game…

Thanks for your time.