Beer Batter Everything!!

A few years ago I was introduced to beer batter chicken by a friend.  It was a favorite, nearly weekly meal for he and his kids.  It quickly became a requested meal by my children as well.  He had used a box mix to make his batter, but I knew I could put together a batter with pantry items that are always on hand and much less expensive.  Beer batter chicken night quickly expanded to beer batter chicken and onion rings, then pickles, then green tomatoes, then mushrooms, and then my favorite, garlic cloves.  Now we have Beer Batter Everything night!!

The one thing I liked about the first beer batter chicken that I had, is it was in two-bite pieces, so I still prepare it like that.  What I have found is that this is a perfect “eat around the kitchen island” meal.  It never makes it to the table.  Fried food is best hot out of the oil, crisp and salty.  I put a huge serving plate in the middle of the island with a variety of dipping sauces around it, and everyone just grabs and gabs.  The minute the first batch comes out of the oil, the plate is descended upon as if by vultures!

I fry in a frying pan, though some prefer to use an electric fryer.  I use a standard vegetable oil, but you can use whatever clear, flavorless oil you prefer.  Just remember that it must be able to be heated to 365-375 degrees.  It takes about 4 cups of oil to fill the pan so that there is about 1 1/2-2 inches of oil in the pan. A fryer will have a temperature setting.  For a frying pan, you can use a deep fat frying thermometer.  If you don’t have a thermometer, you can test the oil by placing the handle of a wooden spoon in the oil, if the oil bubbles around the handle, it is ready.  Some also recommend tossing a small square of bread in the oil and it will brown in about a minute, or tossing in a single kernel of popcorn in and it will pop when the oil is about 360-365 degrees.  I use the more discouraged method of dripping a single drop of water into the oil while standing clear of splatter, if it pops, then the oil is ready.  Do not use that method unless you are familiar with what happens, to avoid being burned by the popping oil.

Beer Batter

1 1/2 – 2 C all-purpose flour
1 lg egg
1 t garlic powder
1/2 t salt (I use garlic salt or spicy seasoned salt)
1/2 t ground pepper
1 1/2 C beer (= 1 12oz bottle beer)
Course ground Kosher or Sea Salt

Whisk all of the ingredients together in a large bowl.  Be sure it is well blended.  Allow to sit for a few minutes to let the beer bubbles settle.

Be sure that the pieces of food that you drop into the oil are consistent in size so they cook evenly.

Dip the food into the batter and place gently into the oil.  Avoid over-crowding the pan.  I put about 8-10 pieces in at a time.

Once you have all of the pieces in the oil, use a long handled utensil to be sure they are all separated and not sticking to the bottom of the pan.

Turn the pieces half-way through when they begin to turn a golden brown.  Depending upon the temperature size of the pieces, and what type of food (meat v/s vegetable), it will take about 5-7 minutes for them to cook.

Remove with a slotted spoon and place on clean paper towel.  Be sure to change the towel with each batch to keep the food from re-absorbing the oil and becoming greasy and soggy.  Salt generously while still hot, then transfer to a fresh paper towel on the serving plate.  If you chose to serve the food all together at the table, you can put it on a baking sheet and place in a 300 degree oven to keep it warm and crisp.

Serve with a variety of dipping sauces: BBQ, honey mustard, Ranch dressing, Buffalo Sauce, ketchup, Bleu Cheese dressing, etc.

Did I mention how much I love fried garlic cloves!?! Be sure to give them a try!! Enjoy!