Every now and then I get a craving for fried foods. The deep fried macaroni and cheese from the bowling alley, deep fried cheese curds from the state fair or cream cheese puffs from the Chinese place down the street. It isn't very often indulge these cravings, but every now and then the itch must be scratched. Such was the case late last week.
One day several years ago Zach and I were having dinner at an Italian American restaurant with a friend who wanted to be naughty and order the pan-fried mozzarella. Now, I'm not a big fan of those prepackaged, frozen mozzarella sticks most restaurant's served, but these were hand-breaded and pan-fried so we took the chance. So worth it.
The next time I was craving this, I decided to forgo the $10 we paid at the restaurant and attempt to make pan-fried mozzarella at home. I started by slicing some good local cheese into 1/8-1/4 inch slices. The cheese is about $6 a lb, I don't use the whole pound. No one should eat a pound of fried cheese, although I'm sure Zach would disagree. I usually make a quarter pound at a time, so that's about $1.50.
Next, I make or use some homemade bread crumbs with a little Italian seasoning added to them. These bread crumbs were made from the dried crusts of the bread I used to make my Easter strata. Essentially, as the bi product of another recipe, the bread crumbs were free.
I dip the cheese in a beaten egg, which is about $.20 for a free-range egg, then in the bread crumbs and fry in a hot skillet with about 1/4 c of olive oil until the cheese is melty. It is all kinds of wrong for about 1/3 of the restaurant price.
I served it for lunch with some homemade bruschetta made with canned tomatoes from last year's garden and half a loaf of day-old no-knead bread. It was a wonderful lunch.