Frogs, those hopping, croaking creatures, creep me out. I avoid their exhibits at zoos and aquariums and can’t bear to look at them on TV or in print. When we first moved to Georgia, I was haunted by them. Literally. You see, we have this pond behind our house where, at the time, many, many, many frogs lived. I suppose several of those momma and daddy frogs were feeling a little overcrowded so they started venturing away from the busy pond with their “army” in search of more comfortable living conditions. Those improved conditions just so happen to be under our deck. Every morning, I’d wake up to billions (okay, probably not billions but close) of baby frogs suctioned to every north-facing window of our house. They also took over our patio furniture and grill. They were everywhere everyday! I wouldn’t venture out back for anything. Fortunately, over time, the situation improved. I probably have a few hawks and egrets to thank for that. Interestingly though, my aversion to frogs is limited to the pond, per se. When it comes to the plate, I embrace them. Well, at least their hind legs!
Frog legs are an old local delicacy that used to populate many of the City’s fine dining restaurant menus and old Creole cookbooks (referenced in those early publications by their French name, “Grenouilles”). The most common preparation involved lightly dusting the legs with flour and sauteing them in a garlicky, New Orleans-style bordelaise sauce. Still a delightful treat, but one that requires a fork. Because the hind legs of frogs are structured similar to the drumette part of a chicken wing with that one bone running down the middle, I find they’re equally exquisite deep fried and served as a finger food. I finish them off with a few squirts of lemon and ample amounts of both Tabasco and Louisiana Hot Sauce (in this intance, I like both hot sauces mixed together). When prepared this way, they are also more appealing to the eye making it easier to persuade first-timers to commit to a bite. That’s all it takes, you know. One bite. And you’re hooked. Um, um good!
If you are a first-timer and need a little more persuading to try this recipe, let me suggest having a lovely, gulpable beer in hand to wash down that initial nibble. Or maybe to have beforehand as “liquid courage.” A Lagunitas New Dogtown Pale Ale (6.10% ABV) could easily fill one or both of those roles. With respect to the former, you’re not gonna need to wash away anything bad. I have no doubt you’ll love the French Fried Frog Legs. I’m simply giving you a very good reason to drink craft beer with your finger food!
Until next week …
French Fried Frog Legs Recipe
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
2 teaspoons Louisiana Hot Sauce
1 teaspoon Lea & Perrins (Worcestershire sauce)
8 pairs of frog legs, cut into individual legs
Peanut or canola oil, for frying
2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Fresh lemon juice and hot sauce, for serving
In a large resealable plastic bag, combine buttermilk, hot sauce and Lea & Perrins; add frog legs. Seal and marinate at room temperature for 1 hour or in the refrigerator for up to 4 hours. Place oil in a large skillet or electric fryer and heat to 360 degrees. Meanwhile, in a shallow dish, combine the flour, paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, salt and peppers. Remove frog legs from buttermilk mixture, drain off excess and transfer to a paper towel lined plate. Pour remaining buttermilk mixture into a separate shallow dish. Working in batches of 4, coat frog legs in seasoned flour, dip in reserved buttermilk and then coat again with flour. Shake off excess flour. Fry until golden brown and crispy, 6-8 minutes per batch. Serve immediately with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice and hot sauce to taste. Makes 8 appetizer servings.