I grew up on a 100 acre farm in the rolling hills of Northern Ohio with my parents and an older brother and sister. Although both of my parents were professionals, we raised sheep as a “hobby” in our old red bank barn that sat across the field from our house on the hill. Through the years we also had cats (my favorite was Snicklefritz), a steer named Sheldon and two horses. Duchess, the old brown mare we learned the importance of tying a saddle tightly from, served as transportation to school one Autumn day. I recall my parents had left for work and my sister and I were to catch the bus. We didn’t. Somehow we missed the tobacco chewing, overall wearing, dairy-farmer-in-the-morning-school-bus-driver-the-rest-of-the-day, come down the road to our stop. Without a second thought, we saddled old Duchess up and rode her to elementary school! As we lived in a rural Amish community we were lucky enough to having a hitching post in the parking lot, where Duchess waited until school wrapped up later that day to take us back home.
The sheep that we raised were suffolk, a black faced breed which we took to market when they were the optimum weight. As a tender hearted, freckled faced little girl with a big heart for animals, this always pained me.
An integral part of this farm lifestyle was to be in the 4-H club. My brother and sister raised, showed, and then auctioned lambs off at the county fair year after year, saving the money earned for college. Since I had fun sewing, and cooking, and flower arranging in 4-H for the fair, it wasn’t until I was about 14 that I showed my first lamb. While it was fun to socialize with the other “sheep people”, sleep in the sheep barn overnight with your lamb, and miss school for show day, my highlight was the greasy fair food. A typical day at the fair, when I was 7 (ok, even 37) may have included a slice of cheese pizza, a gyro, french fries with malt vinegar, a chocolate ice cream cone from the dairy promotors stand, an apple dumpling with vanilla ice cream, and definitely an elephant ear. At the end of every fair day we took home a dozen of the town’s “famous” freshly fried Lerch’s donuts to start the next morning off right. Oh, and we thought our bodies were tolerating all of that just fine at the time.
Well, the tradition to attend the Wayne County Fair has continued and now my husband and kids love going as well. We would go two, three, sometimes even four times during the week of the fair back in my home town. This year, though, after being gluten free for several years, I started to realize why the fair didn’t seem as “fabulous” as in year’s past. After spending several hours there walking through the livestock barns (“Watch out for the poop, Mama”), listening to fiddling contests, dreaming over which horse we’d like to take home (perhaps Grandpa would let us keep one in his old red bank barn?), and watching our kids smile with delight on the ferris wheel, bumper cars, and scrambler we had only been able to indulge in one treat. French fries – hold the malt vinegar. All the other fabulous treats I have come to associate with the delightful memories of the fair are full of gluten, dairy or both. How disappointing. I don’t think the fair will ever be the same to me again.
So, after coming back home from our fair journey, my tastes not quite satiated for fried food, I tried to think of something I could fry up that might not be “that” unhealthy. A dinner of beer battered fish and chips was envisioned and adapted from a recipe by Alton Brown.
- Half gallon of your favorite frying oil
- 6 large russet potatoes
- Kosher salt
- 2 cups gluten free all purpose flour or The Culinary Artist's Gluten Free Flour (no gum added)
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- ¼ teaspoon Old Bay Seasoning
- 1 12 ounce bottle gluten free beer (I used Glutenator)
- 1½ pounds whitefish (tilapia or cod), cut into 1" wide strips
- cornstarch for dredging
- Heat your frying oil in a 5 quart Dutch oven or electric fryer to 320 degrees.
- Preheat oven to 200 degrees.
- Wash potatoes. Using a V-slicer or mandolin, slice potatoes into french fries and place in a bowl of cold water.
- In a bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, cayenne, and old bay. Whisk in the beer and stir until no lumps remain. Let batter sit on counter at least 15 minutes to thicken.
- Drain potatoes thoroughly. Place potatoes in a dry towel and remove as much moisture from them as possible. When oil reaches 320 degrees, submerge potatoes in oil, working in batches, and fry 2-3 minutes until floppy. Remove from oil with a strainer and allow to sit on paper towels while you finish frying remaining batches of fries.
- Increase oil temperature to 375 degrees. Re-fry french fries in hot oil until crisp and golden brown, about 4-5 minutes. Remove from oil with strainer and allow to drain on a cooling rack over a sheet pan. Season with kosher salt to taste and hold in the oven until serving time.
- Allow oil to return to 350 degrees. Lighty dredge each strip of fish in corn starch. Working in batches, dip fish in batter and fry until fish is golden brown and the batter has set, about 2-4 minutes. Drain the fish on a cooling rack and serve immediately with the "chips".
This was one tasty fish fry! It was crispy, flaky, tender, and had a great flavor from the gluten free beer. I’m sure we’ll make this again and again.
If you love this recipe and would like to receive more of my creations, “subscribe” by sharing your e-mail with me in the upper right corner so I can alert you every time I post new content.
Here’s to enjoying beautiful food in this tasteful life!