Keeping zucchini at bay
September 9, 2013
If you’re a gardener, you are about this time of year in the South trying to decide what in the world to do with all the zucchini your plants started producing in May and Just….Won’t….Quit.
Zucchini are sort of the zombies of the veggie world. They just keep on proliferating. And on. And on. And on. Until you have tried zucchini in almost every form from sweet to savory, from baked to stir-fried, on the grill, in the oven, And yet there are more zucchini, looking reproachfully at you as you try to slink past the end of their row unnoticed.
Why won’t sweet corn bear for four full months like that?
In any event, when you’ve tried every zucchini recipe in your repertoire, here’s one you may not have tried, and one that’s well worth it. Consider, with me, the humble zucchini fritter.
Be aware if you make zucchini fritters that you will have to invite Child A to your house for a meal. That kid loves zucchini fritters more than God loves Baptists (in the immortal words of Sen. Dale Bumpers, “You know God loves the Baptists, because he made so many of ’em!”), and she will go to the ends of the earth for them.
And this is how you make them.
- 3 cups grated raw zucchini (2 medium ones, or one big honkin’ zucchini)
- 1 sleeve/stack of regular Saltine crackers
- 2 eggs, lightly beaten
- About 1/4 cup half-and-half or milk
- Oil for frying
Grate the zucchini (the larger holes of a regular ol’ grater are just fine; I don’t generally bother with the FoPro for it, because it grates pretty easily.
Crush the crackers by putting them into a gallon zip-loc, squeezing out the air, and then tossing the flat bag into the floor and stepping on it a few times, while the dog sniffs about it curiously. You can FoPro the crackers into crumbs, too, but by the time I get the thing out, get the crackers crumbed, dump ’em out, clean the pieces, and put it back, I could have crushed the whole box of crackers with a zip-loc and my foot. I’m just sayin. Add the beaten eggs and the milk, and stir to mix.
You want a good, thick mixture. If it looks too dry, let it sit a bit. The zucchini will give off some water as it sits, in its grated state. If it still seems too thick, you can add a splash more milk. You want a batter that’s thick enough that when you put a scoop in the skillet, you have to flatten it out.
I use a 1/4 cup measure to scoop out my zucchini; it’s about the right size. First, add oil to skillet (I used my big cast-iron one) on medium high heat until a small bit of fritter sizzles away. Gently drop scoops of fritter batter into the hot oil; flatten to about 1/2 to 3/4 of an inch thick. Then — and this is important — Leave Them Alone for a couple of minutes, until you can see brown around the edges. Then, and only then, will you flip them to brown the other side.
Put a cooling rack on a cookie sheet, and cover it with paper towels. Put it in your oven and turn your oven to its lowest setting (probably in the 150 to 75 range). When fritters are done, put them on the rack in the oven to drain and keep warm. Serve warm. Leftovers can be reheated in a toaster oven, directly on the wreck, on the “toast” setting. This recipe makes about a dozen.
Cooked correctly, these things are a work of art. They are crispy on the outside, and creamy inside. There’s enough salt on the Saltines that you don’t need to add any; I’ve never seen the need of adding any other seasonings. The taste is a delicate, fresh one, that tastes like nothing else except, well zucchini.
You ‘n y’mama ‘n ’em would do well to double this if you’re feeding more than maybe four people. These things rock, I tell you. Some folks feel the need to serve them with a side of some creamy sauce for dipping; that’s fine, but I never miss sauce and happily just eat mine plain.
Honey. These are righteous. Make you some, and make good use of that army of zombies…err, zucchini…that’s advancing its way out of your garden as we speak.