How does fried butter taste?
Go over, Twinkies: deep-fried butter is here
Well, protect yourself because a new fried item has been invented that is so brave, so bold, so outrageous that it will take your breath away. The invention is nothing more than:
Right. This artery-clogging, heart-wrenching dish is one of eight new fried concoctions to be unveiled at the Texas State Fair in Dallas later this month. Every year fair concessionaires try to outdo themselves by coming up with recipes that you could send to your cardiologist if they were part of regular food. The friendly competition has become so intense that exhibition officials have named the exhibition grounds the “Fried Food Capital of Texas”.
This year's fried butter competition is the brainchild of 39-year-old Dallas resident Abel Gonzales Jr., who has won fair competitions for Texas cookie dough, fried peanut butter, jelly and banana sandwich, and deep fried cola recipes for the past several years .
(That's right. Fried Coke.)
To make butter butter, the butter itself needs to have an outer shell, if you will - something that can withstand the simmering kettle of the deep fryer.
"I mean, butter by itself doesn't taste good," said Gonzales. “Nobody just grabs a stick of butter and eats it. That would be disgusting. "
So, here's what Gonzales does: he takes 100 percent pure butter, whips it until it's light and fluffy, freezes it, and then surrounds it with batter. The balls of dough loaded with butter are then placed in the deep fryer.
For purists who just want the unadulterated taste of butter, Gonzales serves buttery versions of his creation. For those who want a little more pizzazz, he offers three other versions with flavored butter: garlic, grape or cherry.
"When you taste it, it really tastes like a hot roll of butter," said Sue Gooding, spokeswoman for the State Fair of Texas. "It tastes great."
"It's like a mix between a cookie or a croissant that is just filled with butter on the inside of the gills," said Gonzales. "I think that's the best way to describe it."
One order of fried butter will bring you three or four pieces of piping hot batter in a little cardboard boat.
"More than that and I think it would be a little too much," said Gonzales. "A little too rich."
Pork Chips and Pecan Tarts
Other fried creations that will be shown at this year's national fair are:
- Green goblins: Cherry peppers filled with spicy chicken and guacamole, whipped, deep-fried and garnished with queso.
- Twisted Yam on a Stick: A spiral sweet potato, roasted on a skewer, rolled in butter and dusted with cinnamon and sugar.
- Fernie's Deep Fried Peaches & Cream: Served with a side of vanilla buttercream icing for dipping.
- Texas Fried Pecan Cake: A mini pecan pie, whipped, deep-fried and served with caramel sauce, whipped cream and chopped candied pecans.
- Country Fried Pork Chips: Battered, thinly sliced pork loin deep fried and served with sides of ketchup or cream sauce.
- Sweet Jalapeno Corn Dog Shrimp: Shrimps on a stick, coated with a sweet and spicy cornmeal batter, deep-fried and served with a spicy glaze.
- Fried Peanut Butter Cup Macaroons: A peanut butter shell wrapped in a coconut macaroon, fried and then dusted with powdered sugar.
On Labor Day, all eight creations were rated in the categories “Best Taste” and “Creative”. Gonzales won a trophy for fried butter for Most Creative, and Christi Erpillo won the Best Taste Award for her peach and creme creation.
Gonzales has won four wins in the past five years for his biscuit batter, cola, PBJ, and banana sandwich and butter inventions. He's still a little amazed that he didn't win anything for last year's creation, something he called fire and ice. This complex dish consisted of fried pineapple pieces with strawberries, strawberry sauce and - here's the kicker - banana-flavored whipped cream that was snap-frozen in liquid nitrogen.
"Smoke would come out of your nose or mouth when you exhaled," Gonzales said. “Children really loved it. There was something to be seen. "
That year, Gonzales decided to go back to basics with a dish that doesn't run around.
"Fried butter, I think (was) his effort to come back with a vengeance," Gooding said.
“Special dishes for a special time”
What about this annual celebration of all things fried and deeply unhealthy? Should the Food and Drug Administration step in and ban the event?
No, said Jennifer Pereira, a registered dietitian in nearby Arlington, Texas. A staunch supporter of the “no bad food” approach to dieting and healthy eating, Pereira said that it isn't so bad for people to occasionally indulge themselves with foods they truly enjoy.
“The state fair is only once a year,” said Pereira. “I would strongly encourage people not to bully. Don't build up your hunger so you can eat everything in sight. Pick a few things that you really enjoy, enjoy them, and stop eating when you feel satisfied. "
Pereira pointed out that all foods contain some nourishment - even Gonzales' fried butter dish.
"Fried butter has fats and you need some fats," she said. “The dough would have some carbohydrates. ...
"Once I get people in my practice to legalize all food, it's amazing how the food loses its hold."
Gonzales knows his fried inventions aren't healthy - but he also knows they're fun. “These are special foods for a special time,” he said. “The fair is the one time of year when adults can be children again. ...
“There are a lot of people out there who don't enjoy what I do. I've got emails from people saying, "You are a threat!" But you know if you are really health conscious there are always other alternatives. You don't have to have it. ... And I tell people that it's not healthy food. Be careful with that. Take it in moderation. Definitely get your exercise. Eat a salad. "
Roast for a living
For Gonzales, the fact that he has been such a successful concessionaire at such a large state show for the past seven years has paved the way for some degree of financial freedom - so much so that he recently quit his job as a computer analyst 14 years ago .
“It's fun because being at the show is that total Opposite of being a computer analyst, ”he said. “I finally found out that I was in the wrong field. ... I was really lucky - really, really lucky. I can only do this for the three weeks of the year, and it is. "
His beautiful creations are often very labor-intensive, and every year his whole family - parents, sisters, aunts, uncles, cousins, nieces, and nephews - help him during the exuberant, fair madness at the end of September and October.
"It's like a little family gathering," said Gonzales. "We all bind during the fair."
When the fair is over and the madness subsides, Gonzales cools off and spends a lot of time with his German shepherd Scout.
"Mainly I just take it for the rest of the year and think of new things to fry."
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