Saturday, January 12, 2013

Fried Pickle Showdown!

Left to right, coconut, almond, pork

There will only be one pickle left standing... and then it will be eaten.

One of my truly favorite appetizers ever is the fried pickle.  I'm a pickle chip person--no spears, thank you.  You get maximum crunch with chips, maximum dippage into ranch dressing.  It's a maximum kind of appetizer.

It's also one that requires a certain amount of dedication to low-carb living to turn down, especially when one visits one's favorite southern or cajun restaurants.  I might have cried a little from deprivation (you know, top of my list of first world problems).  However, I am nothing if not devoted to cooking delicious food.  Unfortunately for things like fried pickles, I'm not a fan of frying.  I like baking.  There is so much less involvement, and it is nicely enclosed.  So these baked, low-carb fried pickles are going to start off with two uphill battles.  And then there's the small fact that I forgot that we were out of eggs (how?  HOOOOWWWWW?) so I subbed in some cream and flax.  I was that resistent to hopping in the car and going the 20 minute round trip voyage to the grocery store.  But you know, I like me a challenge!

With such odds against success, I felt the need to try three varieties of breading. I used the same method and seasonings to isolate our variable.  I'm so scientific.

Option 1: Coconut flour (in one recipe I found)
Option 2: Almond meal (actually in no recipe I found, but I thought worth a try)
Option 3: Pork rinds (ground up) (also, in another recipe I found)

Surprisingly, all have about the same caloric value, and pork rinds had the highest amount of protein.

All included the following seasoning: Added to each breading: equal parts paprika, garlic salt and black pepper.

Drain and pat dry pickles. Dip through egg wash.  Dredge through breading.  Bake at 350 for 20 minutes.

I tried two of each.  Half of each one I ate without the mustard-mayo.  Half was straight pickle.

Conclusion?  Coconut flour is not an apt flour for this.  It performed more or less how I expected:  it remained slightly moist and granular and aloof.  I will never do that again.  However, both almond meal and pork rinds performed quite well.  Now, I only hand crushed the rinds because my processor was drying, but I suspect that truly ground they are a good bit better.  The pork rinds got crispest and provided the "truest" flavor. Almonds didn't crisp quite as well, but that might just be a function of adjusting temperature.  Further, almonds provided a slightly sweet counterpoint to the pickle, which was quite pleasant.  Both will go down as successes in my book, and which I choose will depend on what I want.

I'll be making these again tomorrow with my chicken nuggets and Raising Cane's sauce.

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