Five gallons of hot oil. Eight people. One well-ventilated rooftop.
The invitation went out: bring us your raw, your breaded, your soft uncooked foodstuffs yearning to swim freely through hot oil!
The call was answered. They came with Pillsbury biscuits-in-a-can, with raw oysters, with thawed turkeys, with Scotch eggs and with battered Twinkies. They came and they fried... oh, yes... they fried.
Ultimately, fryfest was all about practice. No sensible cook wants to embark on a big Thanksgiving feast with untested technology. My boss had rallied the troops for a turkey trial run.
My own contribution for the evening's experiments was Scotch eggs. I'd always eaten them with a pint at Brit's Pub in Minneapolis (may the lord have mercy on my arteries), and I assumed everyone with porcine interest had been introduced at some point. Not so. Out of seven other NYC foodies on hand, only one successfully could sucessfully define Scotch eggs — hard-boiled eggs wrapped in sausage, then breaded and deep-fried.
For those frying a turkey this year, I recommend a round of Scotch eggs made with quail eggs (I think the end product tiny eggs produce would be more manageable for the mere mortals among us) as a "waiting for the bird to rest before carving" appetizer. Or simply make one or two with chicken eggs and quarter them to feed a group. After all, if you've already gone through the fuss of heating the oil, you might as well use it to good effect.
The recipe happens to make four, and it is ever-so simple:
1 lb sausage
1 tsp rubbed sage
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1 Tbsp chopped parsley (optional)
1. Combine sausage, sage, cayenne and parsley. Divide sausage into four parts.
4 eggs, hard boiled and peeled
2. Pair an egg with each sausage portion. Encase the egg in the sausage.
3/4 cup flour
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup breadcrumbs
3. Roll sausage balls in flour. Dip in egg wash. Roll in breadcrumbs. Set on a tray.
vat of 350deg; oil
4. Fry for 10 minutes. Cool. Halve, quarter or slice. Serve with brown mustard, pickles and beer.
The bird was a bit overdone. My advice? Watch the thermometer like a hawk. Everyone loved the fried bread and the Scotch eggs, but the star of the evening's show turned out to be the deep-fried Twinkies.
I found them to be awful, cloying things (albeit improved from their standard state). Others commented that they were "like zeppolis" or "almost like something you'd find in a restaurant."
In case you've never had the opportunity, the deep-fried Twinkie's cream-filled center melts into the yellow spongecake, and you're left with a crispy-battered, hypersweet donut.
The Twinkie batter recipe is apparently straight from Park Slope's Chip Shop, a place I recommend for those who prefer that home, hair and hands do not smell like used fryer oil.