To prove that I am from the South (you know, the one with the capital ‘S’), I’m offering up one of my favourite guilty pleasures. It’s been a few years since I’ve actually eaten any fried pickles, but my taste buds still go a little tingly just thinking about them. The first time I tried them, we were having dinner with my father’s brother and his family at Country’s Barbeque in Columbus, GA. When my cousin requested an order of fried pickles for the table, I was actually fairly disgusted at the very idea. I have always enjoyed good dill pickles, but why would anyone deep-fry them? The answer is likely the same as why novelties like fried twinkies and fried pizza exist: boredom, or the “hey guys, watch this” attitude. The combination of flavours in just one bite of fried pickles is immense, and, like any good Southern meal, ranch dressing is an integral part. So, enjoy some good home-cooking. Just don’t tell anyone where you got the recipe.
2-2 1/2 quarts peanut oil
1 jar dill pickles, cut into spears or long strips
1 cup butter milk
2 cup cornmeal
1 tablespoon kosher salt
ranch dressing for dipping
cast iron dutch oven (4-5 quart size)
2 shallow bowls/pans for battering
2 forks (easiest to control movement; tongs tend to damage the final product)
Fill the dutch oven about half with peanut oil and place on stovetop. Heat the oil on medium-high until it reaches 390-400°F/200°C.
Place cut pickles on paper towels and roll them up. This helps to remove excessive moisture from the surface of the pickle and allows the batter to adhere better.
Pour buttermilk into one of the battering bowls, and mix the cornmeal and kosher salt together in the second. Dust your hands with a little cornmeal if you plan on using them to move the pickles between batter ingredients (it’s easiest but messy). Otherwise, practice your use of those forks, grabbing in a V-shape.
Place a pickle into the buttermilk and then into the cornmeal. Make sure that the pickle appears to be covered. Repeat the dunking process. Wait until you have double-dunked about 4 or 5 pickle slices before introducing them to the oil. Using the forks (not your hands this time), gently place the pickles down into the oil.
Allow the pickles to cook for 2 minutes (1 minute if you chose to cut into strips), turning them with a fork if necessary. Remove from oil and place on draining rack for 5 minutes.
Serve hot with ranch dressing.
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