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~My All-Purpose Beer Batter for Deep-Frying Anything~

6a0120a8551282970b0240a4c7c38b200bMeat, poultry, fish, shellfish or vegetables.  Heck, even cheese and macaroni and cheese can be beer-batter-dipped and deep-fried.  Slices, strips, chunks, fillets or paillards.  Appetizer, snack, small meal, main-dish or pub grub.  It doesn't matter.  This beer batter will coat it evenly and fry up light as air.  There's more.  Be not afraid.  Batter-dipping and deep-frying, while somewhat repetitive and time-consuming, it is super-easy.  While you don't need an electric deep-fryer to deep fry, a small investment of $50-$75 dollars will get you a light-weight, countertop, cool-touch fryer with a lid, precise temperature control and an air filter which will eliminate the spatter, any deep-fry smell, and, it will make cleanup a breeze.  I highly recommend one. 

Everything in its place.  Start by setting up a deep-fry station.

6a0120a8551282970b0240a4a258cb200dMeat, poultry, fish, shellfish or vegetables, prepped as directed in recipe.

One 8" x 8" x 2" dish containing 2 cups dry pancake mix.

One loaf-pan containing 2 1/2 cups pancake mix whisked with 22 ounces beer (Note:  Beer lends wonderful flavor with yeasty undertones to the breading.  That said, if I can't convince you that the heat of the deep-fryer will evaporate all the alcohol, feel free to substitute club soda.)

One 8" x 8" x 2" dish containing 1, 8-ounces box panko breadcrumbs (optional).

Deep-fryer w/corn or peanut oil heated to 375° according to manufacturer's specifications.

Misc:  whisk; fork, 3-minute timer, wire cooling rack, paper towels, sea salt grinder.

6a0120a8551282970b0240a4a25910200d~ Step 1.  When everything is measured and in place, whisk together the pancake mix and beer (or club soda). Set aside for about 5 minutes before starting the frying process. This will give the batter time to thicken a bit, to a drizzly consistency.  If at any point during the frying process (even at the outset) if the batter seems or gets too thick, whisk in a little more beer (or club soda) to maintain a VERY drizzly consistency.

6a0120a8551282970b0240a4a2592a200d~ Step 2.  This step is actually optional, so skip it if you like.  When it comes to beer batter,  many times I want or need a light-coating of panko breadcrumbs as an outer coating.  To make that happen:

Place panko in the work bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade.  Using a series of 50-60 rapid on-off pulses, process these super-crispy breadcrumbs to finer crumbs.

I've prepped chicken breast strips to use as an example today.

IMG_3404 IMG_3404 IMG_3404 IMG_3404 IMG_3404 IMG_3404 IMG_3404~Step 1.  ALWAYS work in batches of what will comfortably fit in the deep fryer without overcrowding it.  Dredge the pieces in the dry pancake mix to lightly-coat on all sides -- dredge, coat and fry 2-4-6 at a time, aka, just what fits comfortably in the fryer basket without overcrowding it.  Gather up the dredged pieces (placing them on a slotted spoon or spatula if they are small), then, move up the assembly line lower them into the batter and swish them around a bit, until coated.  Lift pieces out of the batter and hold them over the bowl for a second or two, to allow the batter to drizzle back into the bowl. If using panko, move up the assembly line again and use your fingertips to drop the pieces into the panko.  Using a fork, toss/dredge all pieces in the panko to coat them one last time.

IMG_3420 IMG_3420 IMG_3420 IMG_3420~Step 2.  Two-four-six at a time, using your fingertips, carefully drop the pieces down into the 375° oil and into the fryer basket.  Close the lid and allow deep-fry for about 3-3 1/2 minutes.  Adjust this timing depending upon the size and thickness of the pieces*.  The pieces will be a beautiful golden brown and just cooked through.  Do not undercook and do not overcook.  

*Note:  Unless you've batter-dipped and deep-fried an item in the past and have made a note of the timing, it is always wise to deep-fry a test piece (not an entire batch) to time it precisely.

IMG_3439Step 3.  Open fryer lid and slowly lift basket up and out of deep-fryer. Transfer the pieces to a wire rack in a baking pan that has been lined with paper towels.  Tip:  To transfer the food, simply tilt the basket onto its side directly over the rack.  Using tongs is a mistake -- it's an easy way to damage the crust.  Once out of the fryer, immediately sprinkle with freshly ground sea salt and repeat process until all batches are dipped and deep-fried.

Be like me.  Be a fearless fryer -- or become one! 

6a0120a8551282970b0240a4a16a8b200dMy All-Purpose Beer Batter for Deep-Frying Anything:  Makes 4-4 1/2 cups beer batter.

Special Equipment List: whisk; loaf pan; 2, 8" x 8" x 2" baking dishes; food processor (optional); large slotted spatula; fork; deep-fryer; 3-minute timer; wire cooling rack; large baking pan; paper towels

6a0120a8551282970b01bb08918e97970dCook's Note: Circa 1960's and 1970's Anchor Deep Seafood was the name of a take-out seafood joint in my town, Tamaqua, PA.  It was a block from my Great Aunt Mary's house, which was three-four blocks from the high school, where I had band or majorette practice after school three-four days a week, and, way back then, there was no "activities or sports bus" to shuttle us kids who lived in the burbs home -- our parents had to "deal with it".  For years, I walked to Aunt Mary's after practice, then, around 5:15PM, my mom would pick me up after she left work.  Mom and I both loved "The Deep's" deep-fried shrimp, and, I won't lie, a couple of times a week we'd pick up 'a basket' and snack on them during the 10-minute car ride home, to our home, in Hometown.  For my all-time favorite deep-fried treat, try my recipe for ~ Anchor-Deep Deep-Fried Shrimp w/Tartar Sauce ~.

"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2021)


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