Tuesday, September 29, 2009

You'll Never Know Unless You Try........Frogs' Legs!!

What's the first thing that comes to your mind when you hear "frogs' legs"? French food right? Frogs' legs are a very traditional, not to mention stereotypical, example of French cuisine. But they're also very commonly found in Southern cuisine in the US. I find this ironic since many, many folks I have encountered over the years while living in the south have said, and I quote, "I won't get within 5 feet of any of that French food you're always talking about". The back story to this is that a GREAT French Brasserie called Can Can Brasserie opened in Richmond, VA a few years back and I simply would not stop talking about it. I was basically free walking advertisement for this place. The food was fantastic. The atmosphere was like walking into a sidewalk cafe in Paris. It was a great addition to the town...and I wouldn't shut up about it. It was a huge success too. I think most of the Richmond Foodies embraced it with open arms but I did run into a few folks that wouldn't even think of eating anything "French". This brings me back to the frogs' legs. I used to buy these puppies by the bag full at a seafood shack in the middle of nowhere Virginia. They were about as local AND as traditionally southern as it got. It still makes me laugh to think that some people just don't get that food is universal. The French eat liver pate'. Southerners in the US eat liver scrapple. The French cook their frogs' legs in butter and garlic. The southerners in the US love them some deep fried food so they throw those puppies in some seasoned flour and drop them in the fry-daddy. The list could go on and on. So take my advice and open your minds...and your mouths...and give frogs' legs a chance...because you know what they say..."You'll never know unless you try".

Ready to cook these guys but can't find them? First ask your fish monger. 90% of the time the frogs' legs are frozen and you might be looking for them in the wrong place. Philly residents can find them at John Yi Fish Market in the Reading Terminal Market. My Richmond friends can find them at B & B Seafood (3312 Williamsburg Rd, Richmond) out past where Nick and I used to live. I know...it's drive...but a nice one and worth it for the frogs' legs!

Don't know what to expect in terms of taste? Lots and lots of people say they taste like chicken. I think these people just like saying, "it tastes like chicken". Honestly, I would say that frogs' legs taste like the love child of a mild white fish and a Cornish Game Hen. The texture is very tender, almost fall of the bone tender and I think the meat lends itself more towards fish than poultry but in a good way. There is a slight hint of salt in the meat as well which add the most lovely flavor. You'll like it...I promose.

Got your frogs' legs? Got your game face on? Ready to try something new? Use this recipe. It's a perfect way to ease yourself into these culinary delights.
Southern Fried Frogs' Legs with Sweet Corn Relish

2 or more sets of legs per person
2 eggs (beaten with a tbs. of water)
2 cups of flour
2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. cayenne pepper
2 tsp. onion powder
Canola, peanut or vegetable oil for frying

Heat the oil in a deep skillet or a small fry-daddy to 350 degrees. The oil should be deep enough to allow the legs to be completely submerged. Mix the flour, salt, cayenne and onion powder together in a large bowl. Throw the legs in the flour mixture and lightly coat (knock off any excess flour). Now dip the coated legs in the egg mixture, then back into the flour mixture. Fry the legs a few at a time (be careful as to not overcrowd the pot...this could bring the oil temperature down and you'll get soggy legs, not crispy ones). They should only take 3-5 mins to fry. Pull them when they're a golden brown and place them on a wire rack to drain.

Serve them over this Sweet Corn Relish:

2 ears of corn
1 turnip
1 medium onion (chopped)
1 clove of garlic (chopped)
1 tbs. butter
1 tbs. olive oil
1 tbs. heavy cream
salt and pepper to taste

Heat the butter and oil in a pan over medium low heat. Peel and chop the turnip into a small dice (a bit larger than the corn kernels). Cut the corn off the ears. Throw the turnips, corn, onion and garlic into the pan with the butter and oil and cook low and slow for about 20 mins. If the pan gets dry add a splash of water. You want the veggies to sweat, not really saute. When the turnips are tender add the heavy cream and cook for one more minute. Remove from heat and add salt and pepper to taste.

Drizzle this Sweet Corn Mayo over the frogs' legs (I think this mayo MAKES the dish):

3 tbs. store bought mayo
1/3 cup of the cooked sweet corn relish from above
1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper (maybe a bit less if you don't like it HOT)

Take the cooked relish and throw it in a food processor or blender with a touch of water or chicken stock if you have some. Just enough moisture to let it blend. Once it's pureed transfer the mixture to a fine sieve and strain just the juice out. Discard the pulp. Mix the juice with the mayo and cayenne pepper. Now for the fun part. Spoon the mayo into a zip lock type bag and squeeze the mixture into one corner. Now using scissors cut the tip off the corner of the bag. Make a very small cut. Now pipe the mayo out of the bag and onto the hot frogs legs in thin ribbons. Pretty AND delicious!

Now get out there and make some frogs' legs folks! And let us all know how you liked them!

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