Thursday, 18 April 2013

Deep Fried Beer

You may remember that I mentioned my trip to Texas in a previous post. Well, one of the main highlights of the calendar in Texas is the annual state fair, held in Dallas - and at the State Fair of Texas, the highlight is the food. And almost all of it is deep fried... from fairly "normal" items such as corn dogs and spiral potatoes, through to more exotic dishes including deep fried twinkies and deep fried butter balls. And in 2010, the award for the most creative food went to fried beer.

This invention, covered in media around the world, consisted of ravioli-shaped pockets of pretzel dough, containing beer (still in liquid form) and deep fried. And even though each piece only contains a mouthful of beer at most, this being America - and deep in the bible belt - you have to be 21 to try one.

I realised, of course, that I had to try making this myself. It's one of those things which has been on my to-do list for ages... somewhere between watching Citizen Kane and painting the windowsills. But finally, the time had come. First I started by preparing the beer filling. I knew that I'd have to somehow set the beer before making the parcels. There were basically two options - freezing the beer, or setting it with a bit of gelatine - but I didn't want to risk the filling of the finished product being either icy or gelatinous. I ended up going for a hybrid approach... a little bit of gelatine, and a short period of time in the freezer. The result was a sort of sticky beer slush.

Next I made the dough out of flour, egg, and crushed pretzels. This stuff was hard to work with, and very hard to roll thin. But eventually I had ten thin discs rolled out, and I was ready to make the parcels. I made five of them, carefully filling each one with the beer goo, and sealing the edges with egg. I put them in the freezer for ten minutes, and then it was time to fry them!

I started by frying a bit of leftover dough to test the oil temperature, and was delighted to find that it tasted delicious... sort of like a crisp, brittle, pretzel flavoured biscuit. I had high hopes for this, and proceeded to fry the dough-encased beer packages.

Unfortunately one of them had sprung a leak, and when the freezing cold beer hit the oil, the thing fucking erupted, spitting out oil in all directions. I was terrified that it was going to catch fire, and I actually started preparing a wet towel to throw over the pan. Luckily it wasn't necessary in the end, and I bravely fished the thing out, through a shower of boiling oil.

Anyway, after a quick sprinkling of salt, it was time to taste them. The casing was nice and crisp, and the beer had fully melted (without being too hot). But how did it taste? Let's just say that if you like the idea of a mouthful of flat beer mixed with hot salty pastry, then this will be right up your street. As long as you don't mind beer spilling everywhere as soon as you bite into it.