There is something to be said about living in Wisconsin. It is a beautiful state, especially this time of year, where the grass is green, a beautiful blue sky, and the beginning of festival season. Sure, I was born in Indiana, but I really consider myself a Wisconsinite. While growing up, cheese was in abundance, and still is to this day. It was often a snack when coming home from school, and while hanging out at my friend Paul Karczewski’s house, it was always there, I mean that was the snack. Cheese and crackers… it’s hard to beat.
If you ever travel to Wisconsin, you will notice cheese houses along the interstate. They are everywhere, and are a real treat when you enter one. All kinds of local cheeses are available, but when traveling, the best bag of cheese, is a bag of cheese curds.
Roughly the size of a large peanut, cheese curds are delicious nuggets of cheese in its natural state, typically in various shapes, and sizes before being shaped into a block of cheese. They are really fresh, and in my opinion have a slightly different taste and texture than your normal cut of cheese from the block. As they are great served as is, they are even better when you batter them and fry them. Yes, I said it, battered and fried.
You often find fried cheese curds at the state fair or festivals, or in our case, a local food chain, known as Culver’s. These are so simple to make, and so delicious that you might have to walk away from them, that is, if they last that long on your dining table!
Let’s get started.
- Fresh cheese curds, mixed cheddar, room temperature
- 2 cups of vegetable oil
- 12 oz of light beer
- 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1 cup of all purpose flour
- 2 eggs
- 1 tsp salt
Add the oil to a medium pot, and bring to a medium-high heat. In the meantime you can prepare the batter. In one bowl add the flour, baking powder, and salt. Mix. In another bowl, beat the eggs and add in the beer. Mix. Combine the wet mixture with the dry mixture to form your batter. Make sure you mix well to get any lumps out of the flour.
Once your oil is heated through, dip a handful of the curds into your batter. I use a slotted spoon to scoop a few at a time, letting some excess batter strain, then carefully place them in the hot oil.
Fry them for only a minute or so, just until they turn a light golden brown. If they go too long, the cheese will begin to come out, and that is ok, but it’s better to keep the cheese in. You will figure this out immediately. If the oil is too hot, reduce the heat a bit.
Remove again with your slotted spoon, or cooking spider if you have one, and let them rest on some paper towel. Repeat with your remaining curds, as many as you want to serve.
Serve them warm with your favorite sauce. In my case, I went with a chipotle mayo sauce which was 1/2 cup of mayonnaise with one tablespoon of chipotle adobo sauce.
Cheese curds are a perfect example of the true beauty of Wisconsin, its cows, and its farmers. Enjoy.