by Libbie Summers
Photography by Chia Chong
Moving to rural North Carolina from the ever hip and haughty Vail, Colorado, was a lesson in the proper way to eat humble pie. I opened my heart and mind to things that were “precious”—a word that Southerners use interchangeably with the phrase “bless her heart.” Hell, I even added the word precious to my vocabulary. I slowed down long enough to recognize that the bag of still-warm duck livers left on my doorstep by my duck-hunting neighbor was a precious gift, that being alone in a handmade canoe as dawn broke on the river was a precious moment. And discovering that the pickles you get on the side of your North Carolina barbecue are fried—now, that that was a precious surprise!
Precious Sausage-Stuffed Deep-Fried Dills
+ sweet horseradish dipping sauce
yields 12 to 18 pickles
What You Need
1(46-ounce) jar whole dill pickles, drained and patted dry
1⁄2 pound hot Italian sausage, casings removed, chopped, and fully cooked
2 cups self-rising flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1⁄2 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more for sprinkling
1⁄4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1⁄2 cup buttermilk
1 cup Budweiser beer (or your choice beer)
1⁄2 teaspoon Texas Pete hot sauce
Peanut oil for deep-frying
Sweet Horseradish Dipping Sauce (recipe follows)
Slice 1/4 inch off both ends of each pickle. Working on one end of each pickle at a time, use a paring knife (working it like a corkscrew) to carefully hollow out half of the pickle. Repeat from the other end. Transfer the insides to a cutting board and finely chop.
In a medium mixing bowl, stir together the finely chopped pickles and the sausage. Stuff each hollow pickle with the sausage mixture and set aside.
In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together 1 cup of the flour, the sugar, salt, and pepper. Whisk in the buttermilk, beer, and hot sauce and continue whisking until the batter is smooth. Let the mixture sit at room temperature while the oil is heating.
Heat the oil in a Dutch oven or deep-fryer to 360 ̊F. Line a baking sheet with paper towels and set aside.
Pour the remaining flour into a medium mixing bowl. Working in small batches, dredge the stuffed pickles in the flour and shake off any excess. Dip the floured pickles into the batter and shake off any excess. Gently slide the pickles into the hot oil and cook until lightly browned. Remove to the prepared baking sheet to drain. Sprinkle with salt while the pickles are hot. Serve warm with Sweet Horseradish Dipping Sauce.
Sweet Horseradish Dipping Sauce
yields scant 2 1/2 cups
2 cups sour cream
1/4 cup honey
3 tablespoons prepared horseradish
Pinch of kosher salt
Combine all the ingredients in a small mixing bowl and stir well. The sauce will keep, refrigerated, for 1 week.