You know when you bite into something new and the world slows down; the edges to things in your vision get a bit hazy; you need to consciously remember to breathe… Yeah, it was like that.  I’m not sure how long I can go without another opportunity to make a complete swine of myself with these glorious rings.

image. squash

Gluten Free Fried Delicata with Spiced Honey Glaze

Got your attention now, do I?  But, before we get into recipes, are you familiar with Delicata Squash?  You can find them at most grocery stores currently.  I haven’t found any at the Farmers Markets get, but I’m hoping to.  I have personally grown them in Washington state myself, so know it’s doable with our seasons.  delicata

One of the primary reasons to get excited about these little guys, besides that they taste wonderful, is that they are the only Winter Squash you do not have to peel.  Yes, the thin peels are entirely edible!  Score!  I don’t know about you, but peeling is NOT on my list of exciting and fun projects! Ha!

To make this dish, you will need to prep your squash.  One will probably be enough for two servings.  Well, at least the first time you eat them.  Wash the squash and cut off the ends.  You do remember the part about sharp knives we discussed in the last recipe?  This is especially important when cutting something like this.  They can be a bit ‘resistant’.  When you are working with something that is hard to cut, you push harder.  A dull knife will require more effort and being dull, will tend to go the path of less resistance; your finger…  Need I say more?  Once the ends are gone, now cut it in half, the short way.  Using a pairing knife/peeler/spoon/whatever works, you are going to remove the seeds and membrane from the inside.  Yeah, it’s a bit challenging, but worth it. Remember you didn’t have to peel it, too!  When complete, you will have two hollow tubes.  Now you are going to cut these into quarter inch thick rings.  You can go thinner, but it’s pretty difficult to get them consistent.  Thicker won’t have the texture, in the finished product, you are looking for.  Set these aside.

You are going to need a method to fry them.  I have a great little home deep fryer from Presto that I really like.  Way less mess then doing it on the stove.  Should you decide to purchase a fryer, the thing to look for is how much power it has.  You want the one with the most, that you can find.  An underpowered unit will not be able to keep up and your food will end up tasting greasy.  Ick!  If you are using a pan, you need something nice and stout with a heavy bottom.  It needs to be large enough, so that the rings can submerge and the oil doesn’t come over the sides.  Cast iron is always a good choice.

What kind of oil should you use?  I have had the opportunity to cook with a lot of different oils and fats in my 35 year career.  I prefer to use things without additives or excessive processing.  In honesty, my very favorite to work with is lard.  The medical studies are now starting to agree with me, finally, that these are not bad for us in moderation.  The stuff we can’t pronounce, in our food, will always be a problem, though.  If the thought of lard frightens you, try rice bran oil.  A bit spendy, but fries really well and food doesn’t soak it up, like most other oils.  This dream of a dish really cries out for lard, though.  Just sayin’…

A quick reminder regarding deep frying and gluten.  Since the oil is reusable a number of times, you absolutely must understand, that it can never have regular flour used in it, if you are planning to feed someone that can not tolerate gluten.  The gluten will stay suspended in the oil and attach itself to other things you are cooking afterwards.  Gluten that has been super heated in this way, is an immediate threat to those that are sensitive to it.  Reactions are immediate and frequently severe.
That said, keep this in mind when ordering in a restaurant.  Unless you are in a restaurant that ONLY serves gluten free dishes, the individual that is sensitive must never order deep fried food of any sort.

While the oil is heating, you can make up the honey.  You could also have it made ahead.  It will hold easily.  The more you can have prepped ahead of time, the easier it is to get the meal done without a bunch of stress.  This is the secret of why restaurant kitchens can work so effectively at getting out all those meals at the same time.

Spiced Honey Glaze

3 tablespoons clover honey, or your favorite

1 teaspoon sherry vinegar

1 tsp minced fresh hot pepper

dash of cinnamon

3/4 teaspoon ginger

1/2 teaspoon coriander

salt to taste

1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro

Mix everything together, except the cilantro, with a whip or immersion blender.  Set aside.

Grab those squash rings.  You are going to need to do a light dredge with some gluten free flour.  It’s super easy with a clean, dry plastic produce bag.  Throw the squash in the bag with about a half cup of the flour.  Twist the top to stop leaks and shake it about to coat the rings.  When you have them all coated, bop the, still closed, bag on the counter.  Excess flour will go to the bottom.

When your oil is up to temp, start frying the rings in small batches.  They are ready to take out of the oil when they are lightly brown and floating.  Place them on a paper towel lined plate.  Since these are super moist, they can get soggy pretty quick, so to compensate I like to do a double fry.  When you have completed the first round of cooking and it’s nearly time to complete the rest of the meal, drop them back into the fryer.  Mine is large enough to hold the whole batch.  Do what works with your equipment.  If the oil shows any sign of cooling rapidly, get the product out immediately and do in smaller batches when it’s hot again.

Once all the rings are ready, place in a large bowl.  Drizzle the honey over them and add the cilantro.  Toss everything together and plate.  Prepare yourself.  The lucky individuals, you are sharing these with, are going to be heaping massive quantities of adulation and praise upon you!

Wasn’t that fun?


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