Kysha Harris | 1/31/2013, 1:37 p.m.
I'll admit it: I don't care who wins the Super Bowl on Sunday. There, I said it! I'm watching solely for commercials and to see Beyonce do her thang ... live! It's bound to be a ferocious performance--perhaps the only ferocious thing other than my appetite for Super Bowl food: wings, nachos, burgers and generally all fried foods.
Fried food reminds me of Rome, reminds me of dinner at Scarpetta, reminds me of cooking an Italian feast for a client recently. Fritto misto, or "mixed fry," was the standout star--the quarterback, if you will--each time. It, too, could be your quarterback at your Super Bowl gathering. Pick your favorite vegetables and seafood and go to town!
There are a couple of different methodologies and experiences here to share that shaped this love of the mixed fry. First, before going to Italy in 2010, some chef friends recommended the best place in Rome for this dish. They were not wrong. It was so good that we multiplied the order by three by our second visit on our last night in the city after sampling other versions throughout Tuscany. When I asked for the secret, I was told a mixture of matzo meal and panko processed together. Note was taken.
The second fritto misto moment at Scarpetta was best captured in a previous "Talking SCHOP!" column, "Making 'the little shoe'"(Feb. 9, 2012): "This is the perfect fried dish. Equally sized pieces of seafood and vegetables perfectly battered and fried, dressed with salt and fried herbs and topped with thin slices of fried lemon." I took this whole dish straight to my food heart.
I took these two awesome experiences and put it into my first try at a mixed fry for a client's antipasti course. It consisted of chickpeas, string beans, sliced portabella mushrooms, smelts, zucchini, lemon and rosemary. The only debate was using a light batter (like tempura) or just a dusting of seasoned flour. Still working that out, but the latter proves to be the easiest--just make sure your items are moist so the dusting will stick.
And listen, this is America: You can fry whatever you want to fry! When you find delicious, fresh and seasonal items at your local grocery store, farmers market or fishmonger, put it up in the fry mix. I would only add that if it's something soft or that doesn't have a self-contained skin like a piece of an apple or banana, then go with a batter to seal it in.
Since I don't have a nickel in this dime of a game, I don't mind being at the stove frying and scoring the food touchdown of the night! Go ... uh ... GO BEYONCE!
Enjoy, get eating and thanks for reading!
Kysha Harris is a food writer, culinary producer, consultant and owner of SCHOP!, a personalized food service offering weekly and in-home entertaining packages. Questions? Comments? Requests? Feedback? Invitations! Email her at kysha@iSCHOP.com, follow her on Twitter @SCHOPgirl or Facebook www.facebook.com/SCHOPnyc or chat with her on Instant Messenger at AskSCHOP, Monday-Friday, 6-8 p.m. For even more recipes, tips and food musings, subscribe to her blog at www.talkingSCHOP.wordpress.com.