Summary: During my childhood (in southwest Louisiana), my mom and grandmother cooked a lot of squash. Squash casserole, boiled squash, stuffed squash, lightly fried squash....White-skinned scalloped squash were prevalent in the summers, and Nanny and Mom sliced them into rounds, dipped them in an egg-milk mixture before dredging them in generously salted and peppered flour, and then frying them quickly in hot canola oil.
The batter was so light, barely clinging to the delicate squash. Parmesan grated over the top was the finishing touch, and I remember Mom eating the slices straight from the paper towel-lined plate she'd transferred them to from the oil.
This year I planted a pattypan squash and assumed it'd be the yellow-skinned variety that are all over the farmers markets right now. Instead, what a pleasant surprise to grow the white kind from my youth. I picked a huge one yesterday and then became inspired to go a bit beyond Mom's and Nanny's recipe. This resulted and was truly divine.
Yield: serves 2-4, can easily be doubled
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 ears of corn, shucked and kernels cut from cobs (discard or compost the cobs)
- small handful of fresh chives, washed and chopped
- 1 large pattypan squash (an eight-ball would work too, or you can use any summer squash and cut strips instead of rounds), trimmed and sliced horizontally into rounds roughly ¼" thick
- 2 large eggs
- 2 tablespoons of milk
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1½ teaspoons kosher salt
- canola oil for frying
- 1-2 ripe avocados, peeled and sliced into thin wedges
- 1-2 fresh tomatoes, sliced into thin wedges
- Cotija cheese (or ricotta salata or even Parmesan) for grating on top
- salt and pepper
In a heavy skillet set over medium heat, melt and brown the butter. When the foam has somewhat subsided, add your corn kernels to the skillet. Stir to make sure the kernels are evenly coated in the brown butter and cook just a few minutes, until heated through but still al dente. Remove from heat and sprinkle half of your chives over the corn.
Next to your stove-top, set a paper towel-lined plate. Get out two bowls (each wide enough to accommodate your widest/longest squash round/slice). In one, whisk together your eggs and the milk. In the other, whisk together the flour, 1½ teaspoons kosher salt, and at least a 1/4-teaspoon of freshly ground pepper.
In another heavy-bottomed skillet, pour enough canola oil to cover the bottom with a touch of depth. You don't want too much but you don't want to run out. Heat over high heat until a drop of water flung into the oil sizzles, somewhere around 325° or 350° Fahrenheit. Lower heat if need be to keep the oil in this temperature range.
Round by round, dip the squash into the egg-milk mixture (letting any excess drip off) and then into the flour mixture. Try to dust the whole round of squash front and back but keep it light- extra flour will simply fall off in the oil and result in even more of a messy skillet than you'll already end up with.
Place the dredged rounds into the hot oil one at a time (unless you're using a very large skillet), frying on each side until golden, a few minutes per. Remove, gently using tongs, to your paper towel-lined plate.
When done, place as many rounds as you'd like onto each of your serving plates. Spoon some of the brown butter corn on top of each round and then place some avocado and tomato slices on top of that. Grate as much Cotija cheese over the top as you'd like and then sprinkle some of your chives and some sea salt and ground pepper over. Enjoy immediately!