Last fall, when I decided to take a step back from updating the blog, I also made what I now view as a foolhardy decision to continue creating recipes without writing them down. That terrible choice has really been biting me in the post-holiday (and therefore larger) butt over the past couple weeks as I wade through the mess of hastily typed ingredient lists and half-transcribed measurements. The result is taxing my already- very- forgetful brain into remembering what I may have done and why I may have done it and then asking my husband, who never remembers anything (e.g.- I asked him what kinds of greens I’d added to this plate and he said “…celery?”).
All that said, this recipe did come back to me fairly easily. It was a memorable experience to cook my first batch of frog legs, which I’ve seen for years on shows like Chopped or Top Chef, and had always wanted to try out.
And yes, it does taste kind of like chicken.
The idea to start with frog legs is a pretty obvious inspiration taken from Mr. Toad, the protagonist from the second half of The Adventures Of Ichabod And Mr. Toad. Pushing aside all Kermit-related guilt I may have had, I knew it was something I had to do.
I paired the frog legs with a pureed buttercup squash to represent the pumpkin on the shoulders of the headless horseman. I used a buttercup squash, but a acorn squash, an butternut squash, or even a small baking pumpkin would work the same. It adds a lot of sweet and savory notes, as well as a soft and velvety texture to play off of the crispy fried meat.
One element on this dish that I am way too proud of (I often have moments of ‘aren’t I so clever?’ that I then have to clearly point out to people, thereby negating any cleverness) were the Sidecar-Glazed Pears.
I loved the idea of working Mr. Toad’s car into the dish in some way. I’m not a well-versed mixologist by any means, but I do have a collection of random collection of leftover bottles I’ve bought for other recipes. After a quick Google search, I found a recipe for a cocktail called a Sidecar. It is a cocktail that combines brandy, Triple Sec, and lemon. I cooked down some pears and turnip greens in a reduction and then added bacon and goat cheese to the wilted salad.
Finally, I garnished the dish with some bearnaise sauce, which is a rich egg-and-butter sauce, similar to hollandaise. It is meant as a nod to Ichabod’s constant eating, but specifically a hard-boiled egg in one pivotal scene in the film.
It feels like I’ve been writing this one forever. Let’s just get to the long-awaited recipe already!
Buttermilk Fried Frog Legs With Squash and Wilted Greens
Prep Time: 3 Hours
Cook Time: 90 Minutes
1/2 lb bacon
4 tablespoons date syrup ( or maple syrup)
Lay out bacon on a lined baking pan. Bake at 375 for 10-12 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and brush the bacon with date syrup. I found some at Walmart for a reasonable price, but you can also use maple syrup for this step. Place the sheet pan back in the oven and bake for an additional 5-7 minutes, or until the bacon is cooked through and nicely candied. Move the bacon to a new piece of parchment so it doesn’t sit in the grease. If you put it on on paper towel, it will stick badly. Wait until the bacon is cooled and then chop it into pieces and set aside until plating.
Sidecar-Glazed Pears and Turnip Greens
1 red pear
2 tablespoons brandy
2 tablespoons triple sec
2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/4 cup chevre (goat cheese)
Wash the pear and then cut into thin slices. I left the skin on for more texture, but you can just as easily remove it if you don’t like it. In a small saute pan on the stove top, combine the other ingredients and heat until just starting to boil. Stir in the pears and greens and coat them completely. The warm liquid will slightly soften the pears as they sit. Set aside to cool until plating.
2 egg yolks
8 T butter, melted
1 shallot, finely diced
2 T white wine vinegar
2 T chopped fresh tarragon leaves
1 T lemon juice
Salt and pepper to taste
Combine vinegar and shallots in small saute pan and cook until the shallot is softened. Set aside to cool. Place the shallots and vinegar in a blender and add the egg yolks. Turn the blender on and drizzle in the butter slowly, until the mixture thickens. Add the lemon juice and tarragon and then season to taste. Set aside until plating.
1 buttercup squash (or small baking pumpkin)
2 tablespoons melted butter
2 cups chicken or vegetable stock
1 tablespoon black pepper
2 tablespoons salt
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
Remove the stem from the squash and then cut it in half. This step is always the most difficult part of cooking a fresh pumpkin or winter squash, so be very careful when using a knife on the raw squash. Line a 9 x 13 baking dish with aluminum foil and the add three cups of water to the pan. Place the two halves of the squash or pumpkin face down into the pan and then cover the pan with foil to steam the squash while it cooks. Place the pan in the 375 degree oven and cook for 45-60 minutes or until the the squash is soft and flexible. Remove the pan from the oven and allow to cool for a few minutes. Scoop the cooked squash out of the skin and put into a food processor bowl or a blender. Add the seasonings to the squash and then turn on the processor to blend. Slowly add the stock until the squash becomes very smooth, almost like baby food. Add in the butter and then any additional seasoning to your own taste. Set aside and keep warm until plating.
Buttermilk Fried Frog Legs
8 frog legs, thawed and separated
1 quart buttermilk
2 tablespoons seasoned salt
2 tablespoons black pepper
1 tablespoon paprika
2 tablespoons garlic powder
2 tablespoons onion powder
4 cups flour
2 cups vegetable oil
Rinse the thawed frog legs under warm water. Place them in a plastic bowl and pour the buttermilk over the top. Stir the frog legs up until they are completely coated in the buttermilk. Allow to sit for at least 2 hours. Add the vegetable oil to a cast iron pan on the stove or a counter top deep fryer. Add flour and seasoning to a bowl. Coat the frog legs in the seasoned flour and then fry until cooked through.
Place a large spoonful of pureed squash onto the plate and place the frog legs on top of it. Next to the frog legs, add a generous dollop of bearnaise sauce. Add the wilted greens with pears on the side and garnish with the candied bacon and the crumbled goat cheese.
This was a great cold weather dish that was very rich and savory. I would recommend it to anyone who is looking to shake up their average fried chicken dinner. It is possibly even worth…losing your head over!