8 to 10 speckled trout fillets, about 6 ounces each
2 cups low-fat cultured buttermilk
2 cups Frank Davis Chicken Fried Mix
Crisco or Wesson Shortening for frying
In a heavy chicken fryer or sauté skillet melt down enough of the shortening to give you about ½ inch of frying liquid in the bottom of the pan. Then, with the help of a thermometer, adjust the flame on the stovetop so that the shortening heats and levels out at exactly 350 degrees.
In the meantime, do the following steps in order:
1—Pat the fish fillets dry with paper towels and set them aside on a large platter.
2—Pour out the buttermilk in a shallow pan and set it on the countertop.
3—Pour out the chicken-fried mix in a second shallow pan and set it next to the buttermilk on the countertop.
4—One at a time, dip the dry fish fillets into the buttermilk, making sure both sides are coated.
5—Then, one at a time, thoroughly dredge the coated fillets in the chicken-fried mix and set them aside on a platter or a sheet of waxed paper to "rest" for about two minutes or so.
6—Finally, slowly lower each of the prepared fillets—a few at a time—into the hot shortening. Remember, you don’t want to overload the fryer and cause the temperature of the oil to drop. So be sure to give the fillets space to cook.
Now here’s where the proper technique comes into play. Unlike "deep-frying" with fish fry, when all the coated fillets are in the shortening take a tight-fitting lid and place it on the pan. What happens here is the build up of heat intensifies the frying and slightly steams the portion of the fish not immersed in the oil. After about two minutes or so, when the fillet becomes a crispy golden brown, remove the lid, turn the fillet over in the oil, and finish frying the opposite side until it too becomes a crispy golden brown. It’s at this point, with the cover off the pan, that the fillet will "chicken fry" and become moist on the inside and light and crunchy on the outside. Repeat the process until you’ve fried all the fillets.
One more thing you absolutely have to do. Unlike "deep-frying with fish fry," do not take the fish out of the fryer and drain them on paper towels! Doing this will cause the fish to retain the inner steam which in turn will cause the flour coating to come up limp and wimpy instead of light and crispy. If you feel that you must drain the fillets, drain them on a layer of Kraft paper (like a brown paper grocery bag). Ideally, though, you should take the fillets from the skillet and place them on a wire rack suspended over a shallow baking pan. Total exposure to the air will ensure a light crispy coating.
When you’re ready to eat, I suggest you serve up the fillets "country style," alongside a big ol’ mound of buttery homemade mashed potatoes and a cold, crisp lettuce and tomato salad, drizzled with Thousand Island Dressing. Oooooooooohweeeeeeee!
If you don’t have any of my pre-seasoned chicken-fried mix on hand, you can substitute in its place a couple of cups of all-purpose flour spiced with salt, red pepper, white pepper, black pepper, onion powder, garlic powder, paprika, and powdered thyme.
Trout isn’t the only thing you can "chicken-fry!" You can also "chicken-fry" chicken, steak, shrimp, mushrooms, veggies, and just about anything else you get a notion to! The pre-seasoned mix available at gourmet grocery stores or on the web at www.frankdavis.com .
Regular whole milk doesn’t give you the same consistency as buttermilk, and Half-N-Half doesn’t work at all. So stick with real cultured buttermilk if you want to do this recipe right.