I love fried cheese. Sure, it’s not an everyday food, and even as a special treat it’s probably not the healthiest choice, but I love them anyway. Since cheese sticks are a sometimes food, I don’t want to waste my indulgence on crappy fast-food versions that taste like they’ve been steeping in month-old grease.
So I’m on a quest to make my own, from scratch. What follows is the totally true story of the first experiment, which sadly ended up in the garbage.
Mozzarella Stick Batch 1 (MSB1) began, as many ill-advised adventures do, with an episode of “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives.” Gel-tastic bro-chef Guy was visiting with a woman who made the most delicious looking mozz sticks I’ve ever seen. They looked simple enough, so I gave them a try.
Three eggs, beaten with a little oregano, parsley, salt and pepper
One cup or so of bread crumbs, mixed with more oregano, parsley, salt, and pepper, as well as some shredded hard cheese (Parmesan, Romano and Asiago)
One cup or so of flour
Fresh Mozzarella cheese, cut into strips.
Heat vegetable or peanut oil in a sturdy pan over medium heat until it reaches 350° F. Be careful. Oil is tricky.
Dip your cheese strips into the flour, then the egg, then the breadcrumbs. Repeat two more times, until each strip is covered in three layers of each item.
Using a slotted spoon, ease your cheese sticks into the hot oil, one or two at a time. Turn at least twice, so each side has a chance to get golden brown and crispy. When the cheese starts to bubble out of a crack, it’s done.
Remove from oil with the slotted spoon, and put on a cooling rack with a plate or paper towel underneath to catch the drips.
They looked gorgeous, see?
They tasted terrible. I’ve narrowed it down the the following reasons:
1. I think my breadcrumbs are really old, but I couldn’t find a date on the package. I don’t remember buying them any time recently.
2. I think the breading to cheese ratio was way off. The breading was super thick, and it’s all I could taste. A little bit of stale breadcrumb flavor is too much. An 1/4″ thickness of it is the stuff of nightmares.
3. I used too much oregano.
Fresh ingredients really are everything. Frying at home makes the whole house stink. Practice on lower quality cheese. There is such a thing as too much oregano.
I’m going to try again, stinky curtains and expensive cheeses be damned. I’ll keep you posted. In the meantime, I’m going to Denny’s for some cheese sticks that don’t suck.
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