This coming weekend is all about the Southwest Stakes at Arkansas’ Oaklawn Park. I don’t know about you, but anytime someone mentions Arkansas, all I can think about is fried pickles. OK. Maybe it’s just me.
If you’ve never had fried pickles, you're missing out. They were created in 1963 by Bernell “Fatman” Austin at the Duchess Drive In Atkins, Ark., and have become a southern delicacy of addictive proportions. The Fatman’s recipe remains top secret, fiercely guarded by his family and used just once a year at the annual Atkins Picklefest. Isn’t that romantic?
Yes. It’s true. I have funny ideas about romance. When you try this amazing pickle platter with its delicious trio of dipping sauces (tangy buttermilk ranch, spicy gochujang mayo, and a sweet garlic honey soy sauce) you'll have funny ideas about romance too. Go for gold and opt for a few different types of preserved cucumbers for fried pickle platter perfection: dill spears, bread and butter slices, and whole cornichons.
For winning tips to get the best fried anything check out my video, and for the best fried pickle you’ve ever had, just follow my recipe!
Fried Pickles and Trio of Sauces
- Three sheet pans
- Paper towels
- Three large bowls
Ingredients for fried pickles
- 3 dozen pickles (bread and butter slices, dill spears, cornichons)
- 2 cups low protein flour (cake, rye, pastry, rice) divided
- 2 tablespoons cornmeal
- 2 tablespoons pickle juice
- 1 1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
- 1 1/2 cup of french fried onions, finely chopped
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon white pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 3/4 cup buttermilk
- 1 egg, beaten
- 1/4 cup cold sparkling water
Ingredients for Garlic Honey Soy Sauce
- 1/2 cup soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 1/4 cup rice vinegar
- 2 teaspoons minced garlic
- 3 tablespoons thinly sliced scallions
- 3 tablespoons roughly chopped cilantro
- 2 teaspoons sesame seed oil
Ingredients for Lemon Buttermilk Ranch
- 2/3 cup mayonnaise
- 1/3 cup buttermilk
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 teaspoon fresh dill
- 2 tablespoons minced flat leaf parsley
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest
- 1 dash Worcestershire sauce
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic
- 1 tablespoon minced chives
Ingredients for Gochujang Mayo
- 2/3 cup mayonnaise
- 3 tablespoons gochujang
- 2 tablespoons ketchup
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon finely minced garlic
- Make the sauces by simply mixing ingredients together. You should get about 1 cup of each sauce.
- Preheat oven to 200 degrees. Heat 2 inches of a high smoke point oil (like grapeseed, peanut, canola or corn oil) in a heavy-bottomed pot (a cast iron Dutch oven works perfectly) over medium-high heat until a deep-fry thermometer registers 375 degrees. The temperature will lower to the perfect frying temp of 365 degrees as soon as you place pickles in the oil.
- As the oil comes up to temp, line a sheet pan with paper towels and add all the pickles in one layer. Pat them dry with more paper towels. In a large bowl whisk together 1 cup of flour, the cornmeal, pickle juice, and salt and pepper to taste. The pickle juice will create little clumps of flour that will deliver the crunchiest pickles ever.
- In a separate bowl, mix together the fried onions and panko breadcrumbs. Divide this mixture into thirds and use one third for each batch of pickles. Each third will get soggy as you dip batter soaked pickles into it, and dividing it means you can start fresh with each batch.
- In a third bowl, mix together the dry ingredients for the batter. Wait for the oil to come up to temp and then whisk in the egg, buttermilk, and sparkling water. Whisk gently into a foamy batter, do not overdo it. All those little air pockets will create a thunderous crunch.
- Make a battering station by placing things in the following order: sheet pan with pickles, seasoned flour, batter, fried onion and panko mixture and finally an empty sheet pan for the battered pickles. You also want to prepare a sheet pan with paper towel to put the pickles on straight from the fryer.
- Working in batches, add the pickles to the seasoned flour and toss to coat. Move them over to the batter and cover them thoroughly. Remove them from the batter using a slotted spoon, letting the excess drip off, and add to the panko and breadcrumb mixture.
- Add pickles to the oil one at a time without overcrowding the pan. Fry them until golden brown, about 1 to 2 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on a paper towel lined sheet pan. Keep the pickles warm in your oven while you fry the rest of the batches. Return the oil to 375 degrees and repeat with the remaining pickles. Serve immediately with your prepared sauces.
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