Everyone in the world makes fun of people from the South. It hasn’t helped much that every.. single.. food program wants to do a segment on what us silly Southerners are deep frying this time.
Why not talk about any number of the world-class chefs that operate out of the South, or that we do killer oyster roasts, or that our pecan pies and banana pudding can make you lose your religion… No. They want to talk about chicken frying things that really shouldn’t be fried – be it steak, Snickers Bars, those nuclear fallout surviving cream-filled cakes, or dill pickles.
I really came late to the fried pickle party. Although they’ve been around in the South since the mid 60’s, it was something I just never encountered. That is, until 1989 when I spent 2 weeks at a conference in Memphis, TN. I had my pickle induction at B.B. King’s on Beale Street.
Super sour, salty, greasy-fried dill pickle chips…. people were scarfing them up like popcorn. So I figured… when in Rome… I have to tell you, I wasn’t a fan. I just didn’t get the fascination with the aggressive little chips. Now… I like me a pickle on a sammich, and I love a pickle on a hamburger… but coating it in batter and serving it up hot just seemed all kinds of wrong.
I passed it off as some kind of local fad, and never really thought about it again.
… until I was doing the chicken nugget test. Using all the pickle juice for the buttermilk brining, left me with a full jar of quickly drying pickle chips. So while things were marinating for the last set of nuggets (these were brined in pickle juice and Ranch Dressing), I dumped the jar of juice-less pickles into the bag with the chicken…. and let them stew overnight.
You know, they were kinda fabulous. The ranch dressing bath removed a ton of the aggressiveness, but left a heap of pickle flavor. You got this hint of the ranch spices, a rush of pickle, and a lot of crunch…..
They should have had these in Memphis.
Plate Fodder Ranch Fried Dill Pickles
Makes a Bunch
1 Jar Dill Pickle Hamburger Chips – Drained
1 Cup Ranch Dressing
1/4 Cup Buttermilk
For the Batter Station
1 Cup All Purpose Flour + 1 Teaspoon Kosher Salt + 1 Teaspoon Black Pepper (for the Dredge)
1 Cup Ranch Dressing + 1/2 Cup Buttermilk (for the Dip)
4 Cups Canola Oil
Kosher Salt for Finishing
Tools of the Trade
Paper Lined Draining Rack
Place the pickles, buttermilk and ranch dressing in the zipper bag and refrigerate minimum 3 hours (personally, I’d say it is better if it’s overnight to remove a little more of the sourness… but that’s just me)
When you’re ready to fry:
Prepare the batter station. Dredge each of the chips individually in the flour mixture, dip into the ranch mixture and dredge back into the flour. Set each on a wire rack until each chip is done. Allow the chips to dry for 10 minutes before frying to set the batter.
Preheat the fryer and oil to 350. Working in smallish batches (10 to 15 chips at a time), carefully drop the chips into the fryer and fry for 3 minutes (or until the coating is just golden). Lift them out with the strainer basket and place on the papered rack to drain. Immediately give them a sprinkle with medium crystal kosher salt
Serve while still hot with a side of ranch dressing.