Listen, I know I’m treading dangerously close to cliche territory here but deep fried pickles are actually one of those dishes that you either love or you hate. When I let it slip that I was working on a new adaptation of this trashy pub classic a large majority of respondents went all googly-eyed and lost control of their saliva glands.
A small but vocal minority (who happen to be some of the wine experts I respect most–coincidence?) were having none of it. Objections tended towards they’re too salty and acidic but my favourite has to be: Who wants a hot pickle?
Well, I do. In those chain sports-bar-pubs, deep-fried pickles can be just as awful as the other frozen garbage but if you make them at home, especially with homemade pickles, you’ll be a super-star. I find that deep-frying my wild dill pickles brings out the garlic, dill, and black pepper flavours. You do get more of the acid but because they’re lacto-fermented it’s that intriguing funk instead of just the sharpness of the distilled stuff they use in mass production.
All the steps involved in getting the cheese and bacon into the pickle are easier with bigger pickles. I happened to have these medium-small ones left in my jar but if you have the option go with larger ones. Even better might be those absolutely massive ones that you can sometimes find sold out of the bucket in Eastern European markets. But if you go that route you are introducing a lot of water to the hot oil so be particularly careful about the deep-frying stage.
If you’re sensitive to the taste of salt feel free to soak the pickles in plenty of fresh water for a few hours (or overnight in the fridge) before starting the recipe.
Both the cheese and bacon are supporting players whose fat helps cut the acid and really turns up the indulgence factor on this dish. It’s a good use for a little bit of homemade bacon.
These are in my humble opinion are blow-your-mind delicious.
(This isn’t my first shot at deep fried pickles. To see how Alton Brown’s cornmeal-crusted ones turned out for me see this post. And if making pickles is your thing you’ll want to see my recipe for wild (a.k.a. lacto-fermented) kosher dill pickles; and my troubleshooting guide for that process.)
Deep Fried Pickles with Cheese and Bacon
Dill pickles that are deep-fried after being stuffed with cheese and bacon and coating in panko breadcrumbs make an excellent treat.
Yield: four deep-fried pickles; plenty for one hungry person as an appetiser or shared between two.
- 4 medium-small kosher dill pickles (or 2 large)
- 50 g (a smallish knob) cheddar cheese, shredded
- 2 strips good-quality bacon, lightly cooked and cut into small bits
- 65 g (1/2 cup) all-purpose flour
- 1 large egg
- 90g (1 cup) panko (Japanese-style) bread crumbs
- pinch cayenne
Cut a wedge out of the top of each pickle. It should run the almost the entire length and be triangular in cross section. Just like how Subway used to cut their buns–I know the real foodsters who only eat porchetta sandwiches from pop-ups will have no idea what that means. It helps if you keep track of which lid goes with which pickle. Use your smallest spoon (like a 1/8 teaspoon measure or a microscopic melon baller) to dig the seedy insides out of each pickle.
Stuff each with a generous amount of cheese and bacon. Secure the lids back in place with two toothpicks (things will run more smoothly if the toothpicks are positioned parallel to each other.
- Review safety precautions for deep frying at home. (Short version: 1. Don’t fill your cooking vessel more than 1/3 with oil; 2. Have a fire extinguisher and lid for you pot nearby; and 3. Move particularly flammable objects away from stove.) Heat 2 – 3 inches of canola or other vegetable oil to 375F in a dutch oven or heavy-bottomed pot set over medium heat. Do not leave oil unattended.
- Prepare a three-station breading operation. Flour in the first container (or plate), the egg beaten with the tablespoon of milk in the second, and the panko crumbs seasoned with a pinch of cayenne in the third. Roll each stuffed pickle in the flour, shake off excess and move to the egg wash. Once coated in egg let excess drip off and move to panko for a bread crumb covering. Move back to egg and then again to panko for a second coating. Hold on a plate while you repeat the process with the other pickles.
- Fry the pickles for about three minutes, turning once. Remove to a paper towel-line plate and let cool slightly before carefully removing the toothpicks and consuming in a fit of gluttony.