Fritterin’

About a month and a half ago, I attended a pumpkin cooking event at Woodville Plantation. We made pumpkin soup, pumpkin bread pudding, roasted pumpkin stuffed with apples and spicy sausage,

and these:

Pumpkin fritters.

Even if you have your Thanksgiving Day menu set already, make room for these!  They’ll make a great appetizer, side dish or dessert.

The fritter recipe we followed was hand copied from an 1800s cookbook. Back then, recipes were apparently rather vague. None of that “2 cups of this plus 3 teaspoons of that”. They were more like guidelines or suggestions, and that’s what this recipe is going to be. The details (spices, cooking time, toppings, etc.) are up to your personal preference.

For the pumpkin cooking event, we started with fresh pumpkins – because they didn’t have canned pumpkin in the early 1800s, duh.  So when I made the pumpkin fritters at home this week, I started with a fresh pie pumpkin. If you want to try these but want to start with canned pumpkin, just skip to step 4.

1) Slice up your pumpkin (make sure it’s a pie pumpkin and not a leftover decorative/jack-o-lantern pumpkin). There wasn’t much rhyme or reason here. Cut the top off like you’re going to carve a jack-o-lantern, close to the stem, then cut slices down the sides and scoop all of the seeds/stringy bits out (bonus: clean and let the seeds dry for 24 hours or so, and toast them up with some butter and salt or cinnamon sugar).  Cut the pumpkin slices into chunks, leaving the rind on.

2) Dump the pumpkin chunks (please read that out loud) in a pot and fill the pot with enough water to cover the pumpkin bits. Bring it to a boil and boil for about 30 minutes, until the pumpkin is soft.

3) Let the pumpkin cool until you can handle the slices without hurting yourself.  Strain the pumpkin in a colander. With a knife, carefully cut away the rind and pitch it. Set the skinless pumpkin chunks aside.

This little pumpkin yielded about 4 cups of cooked pumpkin. For the fritter recipe below, I used about 2 cups.

Do-ahead bonus: I cooked the pumpkin a few weeks ago and froze it in two separate batches, and thawed one for the fritters.

4) Preheat a skillet with 1/4 of your oil or fat of choice. I used Crisco – go big or go home! But you can be healthier and use something else, I suppose. I set my skillet to medium-high heat. At Woodville we were cooking over hot coals, so I have no idea what the temperature was.

5) Place about 2 cups or one 15 oz can’s worth of pumpkin into a large bowl (I started with a medium one and regretted it), and stir in some brown sugar (I used about 1/2 cup) and spices (I used about 1/2 tsp. nutmeg and 1 tsp. cinnamon).

6) Stir in enough flour so that the fritter batter will hold some shape, but not so much that the fritters will be flour bricks. This is really going to vary depending on how watery your pumpkin is. Just add the flour a little bit at a time.

7) When the oil is hot, drop blobs of pumpkin batter into the pan, leaving enough room to push them around and flip them. Fry for 2-3 minutes per side, until they’re golden brown and crunchy. Set finished fritters on a paper towel-covered plate to drain.

This batch gave me 14 fritters. I tried baking some, but they turned out chewy. I might experiment with different temperatures/baking time eventually.  I also plan to freeze a few and see if they reheat well. I’ll let you know how that goes!

These are best served fresh and still hot. I had them today with some powdered sugar dusted on top. You could also serve them with whipped cream or maple syrup.

Pumpkin fritters could also easily be a savory dish. Cut back on the sugar (or eliminate it) and mix chopped onions, salt and pepper, and whatever other spices you want to pull out of your pantry (parsley? basil? celery salt? maybe even some grated parmesan), and serve them with sour cream.

If I’m not back on here before next Thursday, have a Happy Thanksgiving!

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