Frog Legs Spiced with Pickle Masala, Garlic, and Lemon ►
Frogs legs are sauteed with garlic and parsley, then served over a tomato compote. The dish is one of the most popular at Club Guastavino’s. It is seasoned with pickle masala, a salty spice mixture from India available in Asian or Indian markets. Chef Daniel Orr notes that he prefers to use imported frog legs, which are smaller, but that the larger domestic legs may also be used; just cook them a little bit longer.
- Tomato Compote
- Olive Oil - 1 tablespoon
- Garlic Clove - 1, minced
- Tomatoes - 4 large, peeled, seeded, and diced
- Bouquet garni - 1 sprig each thyme and rosemary plus a bay leaf, tied together
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Flour - 3 cups
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
- Frog Legs - 3 pounds, cleaned imported
- Whole Milk - 2 cups
- Safflower Oil - about 3/4 cup (alt. oil with a high smoke point)
- Unsalted Butter - 6 tablespoons
- Garlic - 6 teaspoons, chopped
- Italian Parsley - 1/2 cup, chopped
- Lemons - 3
- Lemon Zest - zest of 1/2 lemon
- Pickle Masala - 1/4 teaspoon
- Pickle Masala - 1/4 cup
To prepare the tomato compote: Heat the olive oil over medium-high heat and add the garlic. Reduce the heat to medium and saute the garlic until softened and translucent. Add the tomato dice, cover, lower the heat to medium-low, and cook until the tomatoes have completely softened and lost their shape, about 20 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Set aside; keep warm.
To prepare the frog legs: Season the flour with salt and pepper. If necessary, trim the legs from the backbone to work with individual legs. Trim off the toes. Place the frog legs in the milk. One at a time, with one hand (“the wet hand”) lift a frog leg and squeeze off the excess liquid, then place it in the flour. With the other hand (“the dry hand”) toss the leg in the flour until well coated. Dust off the excess flour. Set the coated legs on a small tray to await cooking. Coat all the legs being cooked at one time; if you are frying in batches, coat only one batch at a time.
Place a large pan with 1/2 cup of oil over high heat. When the oil reaches 370 F, carefully place legs in the hot oil. Quickly shake the pan to disperse the legs evenly. Do not crowd the pan; cook in batches if necessary. Adjust the heat to maintain the oil temperature. Cook them, turning once, until they are evenly crisp and browned, 5 to 7 minutes. Lift the legs out with tongs and drain on paper towels. Repeat until all legs are fried, adding oil as necessary. The legs should be crisp, like fried chicken.
Using a large spatula as a guard, pour the used oil into a metal container (it will be discarded when it is cool). Return the pan to medium-high heat. Add the butter and cook until the butter just begins to brown. Add the garlic and cook until the garlic begins to color slightly. Turn off the heat and add the parsley with the lemon zest. Season with some of the pickle masala, salt, and pepper to taste. Put the frog legs back into the pan and toss to coat with the sauce.
To serve: Spoon tomato compote in the center of each plate. Divide the frogs legs among the plates and arrange them over the compote. Squeeze the juice from 1 lemon into the pan butter and blend. Spoon this pan sauce over and around the frog legs. Sprinkle pickle masala over the frog legs. Cut the remaining lemons into wedges and use to garnish the plates.