My family just got home from a week in New Glarus, Wisconsin, where we toured their local vegetable stands, meat markets, and cheese shops. An award winning brewing company, Hoesly's Meats, Carr Valley Cheese...I could live there!
When at the Carr Valley Cheese retail store, we picked up a couple pounds of fresh cheese curds. They were addicting enough straight from the bag but as the Minnesota State Fair is right around the corner, we've had these deep fried cheese curds on the brain. That, and every cheese curd we ever order at a restaurant is a disappointment - and it's a food we tend to crave. The MN State Fair cheese curds are basically world famous, guessing, and are a ridiculous ideal to attempt at home so my hopes weren't real high. We combined some recipes found online with good cooking sense and came SO close...but of course nothing beats the real thing.
We fried our cheese curds in vegetable oil in a Dutch oven and it worked really well. The breading on these was a touch less greasy and crispy as the fair's-a tiny bit too bready for me. After freezing a batch of battered curds and frying them straight out of the freezer, we came even closer to the real thing. Next time, a bit less flour and baking powder, and perhaps we'll have a blue ribbon winner!
State Fair Style Cheese Curd Batter:
1 cup flour, plus more for dusting
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoons salt
2 eggs, beaten
3/4 cup flat beer (it doesn't have to be super light-we used a cherry wheat)
1 pound fresh cheese curds, at room temp
1 quart vegetable oil
Heat oil to 375 degrees in a deep pot on the stove*. Shake your cheese curds in flour, then shake them well to get excess flour off. They need a very light dusting.
Mix together your flour, baking powder and salt, then blend in the eggs and the beer until smooth. Dip each cheese curd in the batter, drain excess batter off, then drop into the hot oil (better yet, freeze solid and fry straight from the freezer). Cook in small batches - do not overcrowd the oil. Fry for about a minute, turning the curds around in the oil until they reach the dark golden color you're looking for.
Drain on paper towels and lightly sprinkle with fine salt. Serve immediately, and enjoy!
* To test the oil, place the tip of a wooden spoon handle directly into the hot oil (holding the spoon vertically so the end of the handle touches the bottom of the pan). When your spoon handle sputters and bubbles in the oil, it's hot enough to fry in. Don't worry, you won't burn your spoon. If you try to fry your breaded cheese curds in hot oil and it is violent and the cheese oozes out of all sides of the batter and browns too fast, your oil is too hot. You want a little oozing, but not a lot, and frying them straight from the freezer will help create a few of those oozy little crunchies. If you place your breaded curds in the oil and they barely bubble, it's not hot enough.