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David Lissner
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Eat this! Southern-fried dill pickles, a rising trend

Old Oak Tap’s corn fritters and fried dill pickle chips

Old Oak Tap’s corn fritters and fried dill pickle chips

What it is: Slices or spears of dill pickles, breaded or battered and deep fried till golden brown, a crispy, greasy, vinegary snack. We’re told they were a favorite of Elvis Presley’s.

Susan and Chris Ongkiko

Susan and Chris Ongkiko

Where it comes from: There have been various claims for the invention, but the most likely comes from Arkansas. Bernell “Fatman” Austin had been running his Duchess Drive In near Atkins, Ark., just across the highway from Atkins Pickle Plant, for three years, when he decided he needed a gimmick to attract more business.

In the summer of 1963, Austin came up with the idea of the deep-fried dill pickle, selling them for 15 cents for an order of 15 slices. From there, the concept spread throughout the South and, ultimately, came north.

Fried pickles were seen primarily at festivals and fairs, at first. They haven’t quite become mainstream yet, but they are showing up in more and more sit-down spots.

What to do with it: Serve as an appetizer or snack food. At the Old Oak Tap in West Town, owners Chris and Susan Ongkiko accompany beer-battered, fried pickle chips with corn fritters and serve them with green goddess dressing and apricot barbecue sauce for dipping.

Old Oak Tap’s fried pickle chips
Chris and Susan Ongkiko

1 16-ounce jar dill pickle sandwich slices, drained
1 cup flour
1/2 cup cornstarch
Salt and pepper to taste
1 cup beer
1/2 cup flour for dredging
Oil for frying

Whisk together 1/2 cup of the flour, the cornstarch, salt and pepper. Whisk in the beer till smooth. Dredge the pickles in the remaining flour. Dip in the batter and deep fry till golden brown. 2 servings.

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