Summer in Appalachia has long meant supper from the garden for me.
A platter piled high with buttery corn on the cob. Great slabs of brilliant red tomato. Green beans boiled with new potatoes. Kilt lettuce. Cucumbers and onions in apple cider vinegar. No one even missed having meat. Of course, there was probably a little bit of bacon slipped in there somewhere–it’s required for kilt lettuce and who would skip adding a spoonful of bacon grease to the beans and potatoes?
Since moving further south I’ve also added fried okra and squash casserole to the summer feasting frenzy. Oh, and either biscuits or cornbread if we’re really hungry!
But there’s one dish that just says SUMMER to me. And I generally only make it ONCE a summer because it’s such a mess. But, oh, when the crookneck squash is ripe, there’s nothing better than . . .
Yesterday was the day. And we ate it ALL. Yum.
FRIED SQUASH LIKE MY MOMMA MADE
- 2-3 medium crookneck squash
- 1 egg
- a splash of buttermilk
- 1/2 cup or so of flour
- salt and pepper to taste
- vegetable oil
Slice your squash in thin discs but not TOO thin or they’ll fall apart. Mom always cut the necks off and sliced them longways making a few rectangular pieces. These were the most prized in my book. Beat the egg and buttermilk together in a shallow bowl. Add the flour to a second shallow bowl. Some people season their flour, but I always miscalculate how much I’ll need so I season the finished dish. Add enough oil to cover the bottom of your skillet. Cast iron is great but I just use the BIGGEST skillet I can find so this goes faster. Get the pan hot but not smoking. Dip the squash in the egg/buttermilk mixture then dredge it in the flour, shaking off the extra. Add to the hot skillet.
Now here’s the tricky bit. Dipping, dredging, and adding squash to the skillet is time consuming. So you end up needing to flip the first slices you added about the time you’re trying to get the last ones in the pan. And there are still SO MANY left to dip, dredge, and fry. I have no good advice for you. Just do your best and trust that varying degrees of brownness is part of the charm of this dish. Plus, you’ll likely need to add more oil at some point. Don’t bother to put the lid back on the bottle of oil until you’re done.
Pile fried squash slices on a plate lined with paper towels OR a brown paper sack if you’re going for authenticity. Season to your liking and try not to eat too many before you put the plate on the table.
Oh, one final note. When you finish (give up), you’ll have a pan full of the most gorgeous roux. SAVE IT. Or make milk gravy if you’re having biscuits. That stuff is gold.