If you have lived your lifetime under the misconception that green tomatoes are the sole vegetable beneficiary of a deep fryer's love in the Deep South, head immediately to Hillsborough's LaPlace Louisiana Cookery. What chicken and waffles do for the combination of sweet and savory, LaPlace's creole-style fried pickles accomplish for salt and vinegar—that is, perfection.
"Like a true Louisiana roadside food stand, we're really good at frying things," says Dean James, LaPlace's director of operations. He offers fried oysters, shrimp and étouffée fries as evidence. "People don't really know our Cajun story. But they walk in and see fried pickles on the menu and think, 'Fried pickles—now there's something I can get behind."
He's right: As a lover of fried fare and pickles, I can confirm that these buttermilk-battered sour dill spears are among the best fried pickles I've ever had. Dusted with a proprietary blend of creole seasoning and served with an ample side of homemade ranch dressing, these spears resemble fried chicken tenders in both size and texture. Fried pickle chips are often too thin and oily, becoming too soggy to snap before you can get to many of them. But these pickles—stuffed into the bottom of a shallow Mason jar—are substantial and crispy. The cayenne and paprika perfectly complement the light buttermilk batter and contrast the pickle's sour bite.
For weekend brunch, pair the pickles with a shrimp po'boy and a LaPlace Bloody Mary. For dinner, chase the appetizer with a bowl of LaPlace's seafood gumbo or tasso ham, red beans and rice.
"We're going for low-country Carolina cuisine," says James, "but staying true to Louisiana cooking."
This article appeared in print with the headline "Fattening Tuesday"