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The First Attempt

(SAT) 14 Apr 2018

Opening day of Farmer's Market on the square. Ominously gray morning w/ wind gusts > 20 mph. Going counter-clockwise (is this the 'right' direction to travel?), we decide to get a lb of Hook's cheese curds to initiate this line of experimentation. (We also picked up some Hook's 'Blue Paradise'--only $8.95/lb!) Though they were selling curds with flavoring, we decided to go with the plain curds for our first attempt. The curds are quite fresh; they were made yesterday at 2 PM.

After I bought them home (and ate a couple), I set the bag on the kitchen counter to get the curds to room temp. I find the curds become creamier, and thus tastier, and more likely to squeak, when they are at room temp. I went pretty simple for my first attempt:

Experiment 1
Cheese: Hook's
Curd age @ frying time: 1 day and 6 hr
Pre-marinade: 15 min soak in 3 oz of Southern Tier's 8 Days a Week (delicious beer btw) + 3 oz of Silk Almond & Coconut Milk (all I had in the fridge) + 1/2 tsp rice wine vinegar
Batter: 1 cup sifted all-purpose flour, 1/2 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp black pepper, 1 tsp sifted baking powder
The fry: I removed the curds from the soak and tossed them in the batter until they were entirely coated. My Presto 05420 FryDaddy only has one temp (350 °F). I fried a few of them in 1X used peanut oil for about 2-3 min.
It's unfortunate my first ever fried cheese curd looks kinda phallic. The right 'ball' is a nice, crunchy piece of batter--no cheese--in case you were wondering. The texture of the batter was actually pretty good in crunch, but I was hoping for more air between it and the cheese.

I learned that longer frying time = over-melted curd. Rather than being a fried cheese curd, you get more of a moz stick thing. You end up with a hollow piece of cheese-lined batter.

  • Cool curds before battering/frying to avoid the 'hollow curd' effect
  • OR, use giant curds that wont melt so fast
  • Try using more beer in batter

(MON) 16 Apr 2018

How about fried curds for dinner on a Monday after work? I also experimented w/ aioli (might document my struggles with this later). Making aioli by hand must be some sort of hazing during culinary school, is all I will say for now. In this next experiment, I wanted to try for a puffy 'fish-n'chips' type of batter, so I went w/ a tempura-like beer-heavy batter.

Experiment 2
Cheese: Hook's
Curd age @ frying time: 3 day and 3 hr, fridged
Pre-marinade: none
Batter: 1/2 cup all-purpose flour, 1/4 cup corn starch, 1/2 tsp sifted baking powder, 1/8 tsp baking soda, 1/4 tsp paprika

Right before frying, I added 1/8 cup of vodka (Chopin--sorry for wasting you!) and ~1/2 cup of beer (Leinie's Summer Shandy) to the dry ingredients. I whisked just until the dry material was hydrated (still lumpy) so it was akin to pancake batter or wall paint in texture.

The fry: 350 °F in my FryDaddy, fresh peanut oil. I dunked the curds in the batter, let some of the spare batter drip, and lowered them into the oil. They browned fast! So, I removed them in 1-2 min and tossed them in salt.
I definitely achieved that 'fish-n'chips' texture; the fry was puffy and ultra-crunchy in an airy way. However, I felt the fry was a bit too airy and flaky, like Japanese tempura. I wanted a bit more structure and a liiittle bit more space between the curd and the batter.
Either because they fried up so fast or the cheese was chilled, the curd maintained its structure while still being gooey. They were a bit oily. I should have let them drain a bit before tossing them in salt and digging in...

  • Try a higher flour:beer ratio or warmer batter for less flake and more structure
  • Experiment w/ flavored seasoning post-fry
  • Drain 'em of oil!

(TUES) 17 Apr 2018

Will I die young if I eat fried cheese curds for dinner every night? I wanted to finish up these delicious Hook's curds w/ a final experiment w/ a) eggs in the batter and b) frying in my cast iron (for higher temps).

Experiment 3
Cheese: Hook's
Curd age @ frying time: 4 day and 3 hr, fridged
Pre-marinade: none
Batter: 1/2 cup all-purpose flour, 1 egg with 1/4 tsp salt, 1/8 cup of Silk Almond & Coconut Milk, < 1/2 cup of Mango Coke

First, I mixed all the ingredients but the flour. Again, when adding the flour, I mixed until it was all hydrated, but left some lumps.

The fry: 375-400 °F in a cast-iron pan; 1X used, strained peanut oil. I dunked the curds in the batter, let some of the spare batter drip, and lowered them into the oil. These took a full 2-3 min to fry to golden perfection. I could have allowed them to go a bit longer because the curds were pre-chilled.
My best fry yet! They reminded me of the ones from Old Fashioned (if the fry cook was not entirely on point). I've also decided that I don't like pre-marinating the curds. I will stick w/ adding the beer to the batter immediately. I think it results in a fluffier fry.

I will continue to experiment w/ the egg. I'm not sure if it adds anything yet. I might fold in some stiffly beaten egg whites and a little corn starch next time to get some of that tempura crunch effect back.

Finally, I'm convinced that I'll be needing temps closer to 400 °F in the future, and thus, the FryDaddy will have to be relegated to non-curd frying.

  • This is a pretty solid recipe. I'd use it as is w/ the curds melted a smidge more.
  • Continue experiments w/ egg in the batter
  • Higher temps might be allowing for more puff and less oiliness

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