Crispy Crumbed Crappie, Crispy Crappie Fritters and Crispy Onion Rings

Let’s make stuff that’s all about being crispy except for some beans. We’ll bake some fillets, fry a few and crisp-up onion rings, both daintily and bulkily.

There are tools needed in the kitchen and there are those tools that cooks just want. “Wants” outnumber the “needs” probably a thousand to one. We’re going to look at tools we need for preparing this month’s recipes starting with knives. A filleting knife is for cleaning fish and cutting them into fillets or steaks. An open-stock chef’s knife (not in a set) will slice, dice, chop, mince and so on. Chef’s knives come in various lengths and are designed for specialized slicing; however, an old-fashioned “butcher” knife will take care of many jobs needed to prepare most recipes.

You can buy knife-sets to meet any kitchen cutting task. Sets can cost from under $100 to several thousand – depending on your “wants”. Professional chefs need and spend a great deal of money buying their tools; tools that will last for a great many years and be worthy of passing along the next generation.

We all need pans, skillets and a Dutch oven. Tongs, thermometer and other small items are both needs. The list goes on but you’ll know what you need and want.

 

Crispy Crumbed Crappies

4-6 crappie fillets, thick slabs

3 tablespoons butter, unsalted

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 shallot, large and minced

1/2 teaspoon pepper, divided in two

1 garlic clove, minced

1 teaspoon fresh thyme, minced

3/4 cup panko bread crumbs

2 tablespoons fresh parsley, minced

2 tablespoons mayonnaise

1 egg yolk, large

1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest

Salt & pepper to taste

 

Preheat oven to 300 degrees with rack adjusted to middle position. Prepare baking sheet with greased wire rack. Melt butter in 12-inch skillet over medium heat then add salt and shallots to soften, about 3 minutes. Add garlic and thyme for about 30 seconds, until fragrant. Add panko and 1/4 teaspoon pepper to cook about 6 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in parsley. Transfer panko mixture to shallow dish to cool for 10 minutes. Whisk mayo, egg yolk, lemon zest and 1/4 teaspoon pepper in bowl. Pat fillets dry and season with salt and pepper to taste. Brush fillet tops evenly with mayo mixture and individually dredge coated side in panko mixture, pressing gently to adhere, place fish crumb-side up on wire rack. Bake until centers of fillets are opaque and measures 135 degrees. Cook 15 to 20 minutes, rotate pan 90 degrees and cook for another 15 to 20 minutes.

 

Crispy Crappie Fritters

1 pound crappie fillets, 2-3 ounces each without skin

1/2 cup white wine

1/2 cup water

1/4 cup green onions sliced thinly

1/4 cup plain dry bread crumbs

2 eggs, beaten

2 tablespoons onion, finely chopped

2 tablespoons tartar sauce

1 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

7-10 drops red pepper sauce

1 cup crushed Saltines or soda crackers

Canola oil for frying

 

Heat wine and water in 10-inch skillet until boiling. Add fillets. Cover and reduce heat to low. Simmer 5-7 minutes, until fish just begins to flake. Drain and discard liquid. Flake the fish fillets and set aside. Heat 2 inches of oil to 375 degrees. In a large bowl combine the remaining ingredients, holding back the cracker crumbs in a shallow dish. Add fish and mix well. Roll mixture into 1 1/2-inch diameter balls 20. Coat the balls by rolling in crumbs. Fry balls about six at a time, 2-3 minutes until golden brown, turning over once. Drain on paper towels. Serve with tartar sauce, cocktail sauce or sweet-n-sour sauce.

 

Extra Crispy Onion Rings

 

This recipe is designed to cook dainty onion rings to use as a topping, such as you would add to a burger.

1-2 onions, sliced into thin rings

1/2 cup white vinegar

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar

2 cups canola oil

 

Place onion rings in a large bowl with vinegar, set aside for 10 – 20 minutes. In another bowl, combine flour, salt, pepper and cream of tartar. Heat oil in skillet to medium-high (350 degrees). Drain vinegar from onion rings and toss rings into flour mixture until evenly coated. Place rings in oil, stirring occasionally until golden brown and crisp, about 5 minutes. Drain cooked rings on paper towels.

 

Onion Rings Revisited – Mo’ and Mo’ Bigger

3 large Bermuda onions, sliced to 1/3-inch rings

Ice water to cover rings

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 cup buttermilk

1 egg, beaten

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 cups canola oil, or as needed

 

Soak onion rings in a bowl of ice water for 1 hour in refrigerator. In a large bowl whisk flour, buttermilk, egg, baking soda and salt together until smooth. Heat oil in a deep-fryer or large saucepan to 375 degrees F. Drain rings and pat dry with paper towels. Dip onion rings in batter, working in batches; fry battered onion rings in the hot oil until browned, about 5 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels.

 

Mom’s Beans and Rice

1 1/4 pounds dried pinto beans

Water to soak beans, lightly salted

7 cups water

1 small ham hock

1 chopped medium onion

2 garlic cloves, minced

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 pound thickly sliced smoked beef and pork sausage

10-ounce undrained can tomatoes with green chilies

1/2 cup uncooked regular rice

 

Sort and soak beans overnight in lightly salted water. Drain. Combine beans, 7 cups of water, ham hock, onion, garlic and salt in a large Dutch oven. Bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to medium and cook 45 minutes. Add sausage, tomatoes with green chilies and rice. Cover, reduce heat and simmer 1 hour, stirring occasionally. Remove ham hock, shred ham from bone with a fork and return ham to bean mixture.