Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Making the Perfect Beignets

My husband and I were stationed about ten years ago at Fort Polk, Louisiana. This was interesting. Being from Mississippi, you would think that I would be right at home in the Deep South…

But…

 

Louisiana is a whole different world…

And Louisiana has some of the best food in the country…

Especially the beignets…

 

 

 

Beignets, the official state doughnut of Louisiana since 1986, have been popular within New Orleans Creole cuisine ever since being brought to New Orleans in the 18th century by French colonists.

These “fritters”are made from deep-fried choux pastry are traditionally prepared right before consumption, doused in powdered sugar, and eaten fresh and hot.

Today beignets from the Café du Monde, along with their coffee with chicory and café au lait, are quite famous…

So here’s a recipe for making the perfect beignets…

 

 

———————–

The Ingredients

  • .1-1/2C lukewarm water
  • 1/2 C sugar
  • 1 envelope active dry yeast
  • 2 egg, s,slightly beaten
  • 1-1/4tsp salt
  • 1C evaporated milk
  • 7Clour
  • 1/4C shortening
  • Nonstick spray
  • Oil, for deep-frying
  • 3C powdered sugar

 

 

————————

The Dough

Mix water, sugar, and yeast in a large bowl. Let sit for 10 minutes.

Beat eggs, salt and evaporated milk together.

Mix egg mixture to the yeast mixture.

Add 3 cups of the flour to the yeast mixture.

Add the shortening.

Continue to stir while adding the remaining flour.

Remove dough from the bowl.

Place onto a lightly floured surface.

Knead until smooth.

Spray a large bowl with nonstick spray.

Put dough into the bowl.

Cover with plastic wrap or a towel.

Let rise in a warm place for at least two hours.

 

 

—————–

Frying 

Preheat oil in a deep-fryer to 350 degrees

Add the confectioners’ sugar to a paper or plastic bag and set aside.

Roll the dough out to about 1/4″ thickness.

Cut into 1″ squares.

Deep-fry, flipping constantly, until they become a golden color.

Drain your beignets as they finish cooking.them for a few seconds on paper towels,

Toss them into the bag of confectioners’ sugar….then holding the bag closed and shakong to coat evenly.

 

Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Making the Perfect Beer-Battered Fish

************

Prep

Preheat your oven to 250°F so that you can keep the food warm while you ffinish yout batches.

Set two cooling racks over two rimmed baking sheets; these will ensure that your beer-battered food drains a bit and isn’t too oily.

Set two cooling racks over two rimmed baking sheets; these will ensure that your beer-battered food drains a bit and isn’t too oily.

Prepare a paper-towel lined baking sheet or cooling rack for the food to drain off excess oil while cooling.

Heat your oil to 375ºF., preferably in a large cast iron skillet. Canola oil and peanut oil have the highest smoking point, meaning that you have less chance of burning the oil if it gets too hot.

Blot the fish with paper towels to dry them.

Season on both sides with salt and pepper.

————

Dredge

Dredge the fish in the flour and shake off the excess.

Let sit for thirty minutes. to activates the batter and help it puff up when it fries.

 

—————————-

Make Your Batter

—————-

Fry

Fry the fish for about five minutes…until nicely golden.Watch the temperature of the oil carefully.  If the temperature is too low, you’ll end up with greasy fish. If the temperature is too high, the outside will cook before the inside is done.

Remove the fish with a slotted spoon or tongs.

Place the fish on paper towels for a minute to help drain off any excess oil.

Serve immediately. If you do have to wait, keep the fish warm in the oven at the lowest temp possible until ready to serve.

Like frying anything else, use a thermometer to make sure that the oil is hot enough….and avoid crowding the pot.

 

The fish is done when it turns a golden brown color and bubbles start floating near the top of the oil,.

 

Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Pan-Frying 101

 

2. Brining the Chicken…Typically when I frychicken, I cook approximately 3-3 1/2 pounds of chicken pieces….So let’s get started…
Soaking your chicken in some sort of brine will help the breading stick to the food better…and add moisture and flavor. Once you prepare the brine, simply add the chicken to the liquid and stick in the fridge at least thirty minutes, and even overnight.

 

4. Heating Your Oil…When frying chicken, it is important that the oil can be heated to a high temperature without burning. Peanut, canola or vegetable oil are your best options…Avoid using olive oil or butter.

 

 

 

5. Cooking Your Chicken…Gently place your breaded chicken skin side-down in your heated pan, being sure not to overcrowd the pan.

Replace the lid onto the pan. Cook the chicken about ten minutes, using your tongs to turn the chicken a few times while it cooks.

Remove the lid. Cook ten minutes more, uncovered…until the chicken is cooked through and the outside is a deep golden brown.

 

If you are using a probe thermometer to monitor the internal temperature of the chicken, the magic number is 165 degrees.

Remember to bring the oil back up to 350 degrees before you add the next batch of chicken.

 

 

 

Once your chicken has finished frying, place the hot chicken on a wire rack set on top of a baking sheet. Sprinkle with a little salt for extra flavor.

Serve warm or at room temperature.

 

 

When done well, you should end up with a hallmark of great fried chicken—perfectly tender meat with plenty of that crunchy, dark brown crust that all of us Southerners so adore.

Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Dreading the Breading

So we’ll start our discussion on frying foods with breading.

Breading is a basic process that involves coating your food—such as fried chicken and onion rings—before frying it.  

This coating can consist of many different types of crumbs—such as rushed corn flakes, fine dried breadcrumbs, crushed cracker meal, and even potato chips…(more on this later)…

Breading differs from using a batter to prep your food.

 

Breading involves using basically dry ingredients whereas Battering your food involves combining flour of some sort with a liquid and perhaps other ingredients—such as eggs and baking powder.

Battering your food coat them in a thicker and more goopy layer.

Your goal whenever you are frying food is to create delicious food that has a crunchy and delicious exterior with a moist and flavorful interior.

Batters and breadings are important in this process because they both serve the same basic purpose—to help seal in moisture.

You do not want the oil to immediately come into direct contact with the food because you are more likely to end up with food that is either burned or leathery.

Instead you want to create a barrier between the hot oil and the raw food that will help the food cook more gently and evenly, instead of burning.or turning leathery.

Breading not only serves these purposes, but also helps reduce spatter, adds a very subtle crunch, and aids with browning.