And now, for some deep fried depravity.
Ever since I moved a block away from Burger Bar Chicago, I’ve had an unhealthy, full-throttle obsession with fried pickles. But not just any fried pickles… BURGER BAR’S fried pickles. You might say I have discerning tastes where fried pickles are concerned. I’ve even written about them for work… more than once. I guess I’m just that passionate, and the world deserves to get in on the panko-encrusted magic, right?
If you’re ever in the Chicago area, make a point of stopping in and trying them (okay, and a burger and a shake) for yourself; you can thank me later.
Unlike a lot of fried pickles, Burger Bar’s are sliced length-wise (instead of cross-sectioned)– it may seem like an unsubstantiated claim, but I swear to you, they’re just better that way. They’re coated in a fine, crunchy panko breading, fried to perfection, and served piping hot with an equal-parts-tangy-and-spicy dipping sauce called “Urban Sauce.”
So, after years of trotting on over to Burger Bar to get my fix, I decided it might be worthwhile to figure out how to recreate the legendary pickles and sauce at home. This recipe from Tasting Table seemed like a good place to start. I immediately nixed the spears idea; the pickle-to-coating ratio would be way too off-kilter for my liking, and I had a hunch the panko would stick better to a skinless surface.
I was right.
It took some tweaks and alterations to get the recipe where I wanted it, but the outcome was well worth it.
This one’s for you, Burger Bar.
*I’m hardly alone in thinking Burger Bar is something special; the owners saw so much success at the Lincoln Park location that they’ve opened up a second location in South Loop!
Panko Fried Pickles with Spicy Mayo
- See ingredients here
- Canola oil for frying
- 4 large dill pickles
- 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
- 3 large eggs, lightly beaten
- 2 cups panko
- 1/4 teaspoon salt plus an extra pinch
- Pinch paprika
- Prepare mayo according to this recipe, cover and refrigerate
- Pour canola oil into a large (3-quart) pot until oil depth reaches about 2-inches and place on stove
- Heat oil until a fry thermometer reads 350 degrees F
- Slice pickles about 1/8 of an inch thick (a mandoline slicer will yield the best results) and dry each slice thoroughly between two paper towels; set sliced pickles aside on a plate
- Discard (or eat!) end slices, as the coating won't stick to them as well
- Pulverize panko in a food processor until finely ground (about 10 quick pulses)
- Place flour, eggs, and ground panko into three separate bowls and line up in a row (I like to work left to right, so the flour is on the far left, the eggs are in the middle, and the panko is on the right)
- Add baking powder to flour and stir until blended
- Add 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt and paprika to panko bowl and mix until evenly distributed
- Working with one pickle slice at a time, dredge through flour until coated and shake off excess; dip coated pickle in egg and let excess drip off; finish by coating pickle in panko and placing on a large plate
- Repeat the dredging and coating process until all pickle slices are prepared
- Working in small batches, fry the pickles, turning halfway through, until crisp and light golden brown, about 2 to 3 minutes
- Use tongs or a slotted spoon to remove pickles, transfer to a paper-towel lined plate, and season with a a tiny bit of salt immediately
- Serve hot with spicy mayo
*Recipe adapted from Tasting Table