You no longer have to be the one to catch (and clean and skin—“Eew”) frog legs. Many seafood specialty shops sell them, and I’ve even found imported, frozen frog legs acceptable and tasty. That’s a good option for visitors to our Natural North Florida region. Also, you’ll find them in many restaurants in the region.
And according to my buddy, Tom, frog-gigging season begins when the mosquitos begin to appear in great clouds along Florida’s lake, pond and river shorelines. Rounding up a couple of pounds of frog legs can either be fun or frustrating. It’s always a late-night adventure and the frogs don’t seem to be able to eat all the skeeters. It’s also important to have the proper gear and to know the territory. An experienced friend with a small boat, headlamps, a gig and a big bottle of bug dope can be a big help.
Some of the best spots for “froggin'” in our region are our local lakes. Shown here is Cross Creek, which joins Lochloosa and Orange Lakes, in eastern Alachua County. Here’s you’ll find wild frogs as well as platefuls of the yummy critters at the Yearling Restaurant.
When I announce that I’m serving frog legs, he most oft-uttered term is “Eew, that’s gross!”. But after that first bite, my guests are hooked on some of the tastiest white meat around. After all, the French have been sautéing frog legs in clarified butter for centuries, and I’m sure our southern ancestors took up the use of bacon grease as a simpler alternative. However, my recipe cooks them quickly in heart-healthy oil, and allows the natural taste of the meat to remain.
Deep Fried Beer-Battered Frog Legs
Heat a couple of inches of peanut or canola oil to about 375-degrees in a cast iron frying pan or deep fryer. While the oil is heating, rinse the frog legs in cold water and pat them dry. Put half the cornstarch in a zip-top bag and add the number of frog legs you anticipate cooking in one batch. Shake to coat the frog legs. Remove the frog legs from the bag, one at a time, and coat with batter. Add to the hot oil taking care to not let them stick to one another. Fry until golden brown, and then drain on paper towels. If you’re cooking several batches, you can hold the first few batches in a slow, 225-degree, oven until you’re ready to serve.
Batter (for about 2 pounds, or 4 servings, of frog legs)
Mix, to make a very thin batter
3-cups cornstarch, divided (reserve half for dusting)
1-cup all-purpose flour
1- 12-oz. can light beer
Spicy Honey Dipping Sauce
2-tbs. your favorite hot sauce (Tabasco, Sriracha, Pickapeppa, Cholula)