03 January 2008

Benito vs. the Amphibian: Frog Legs

For the record, I'm not particularly fond of frog legs. I don't dislike them, I don't turn up my nose at them, but the damned things don't bring any hint of a smile to my face. It's been nearly a decade since I ate them last (Dad deep-fried some for a 4th of July cookout on the request of an older relative), but when I was at the store and saw them in the seafood case, I had to buy a pair. Since folks are increasingly asking where I find these odd ingredients, I got these at the Kroger at Germantown Parkway and Trinity. It's going through a renovation which includes--quel surprise!--a huge international cheese selection with free samples and great prices.

The first thing you need to know is that you're going to have to defend your purchase against the checkout employee as well as the customers in front and behind you in line. I had to explain that they weren't being used for bait. That I was really going to eat them. That I would be happy to scan the item so the poor girl would stop shrieking. I tried to justify my purchase by using the French term cuisses de grenouilles, but that didn't help.

The second thing you need to know is that raw frog legs can look a little scary, like a human in miniature. Unlike chicken, turkey, or lamb legs, you see perfectly formed thigh and calf muscles. Plus they come in pairs, so during prep you're staring at a pale white frog butt. Not quite as appetizing as a well-marbled steak.

I was going to use the legs as a fun appetizer, but didn't feel like fighting with the women and instead just cooked them in the afternoon for my own enjoyment. I dredged the legs through a mix of flour, Old Bay, and pepper and then fried them in butter. For serving I applied a liberal amount of lime juice and poured a dollop of Dijon mustard. Some say that the neutral flavor makes them "a good way to get mustard in your mouth".

How does frog taste? Many people say chicken, but I think it's closer to catfish. It's whiter than poultry, more delicate, and slightly fishy, and you can't eat the skin and the bones provide no real flavor. (If anyone out there makes frog stock, I don't want to know about it.) I've had them fried, both with flour and cornmeal based batters, and I've had them grilled. These were made in a slightly Cajun way. I've heard that Kung Pao preparations are interesting, but frankly, there's not a lot of meat on those hindquarters, and the flavor's not something that flings a craving on me once in a while. These were juicy, edible, and somewhat satisfying, but I don't see them as part of my regular dinner repertoire.

I had to fix this in honor of the holiday because 2008 is, after all, a leap year.


Matthew Hunt said...

2008 is also the Year of the Rat.

I look forward to reading your Chinese New Year article on the theme.

Paul M. Jones said...

Oh my God, this is the single funniest post you've written. Laughing out loud over here, man!

Anonymous said...

You said Frog Stock!!!! Unreal you kill me my friend...Here's hoping you have the hest year ever in 2008. May we eat together soon...

Anonymous said...

yer a brave boy.
at times we have had rabbit stock and duck stock in the freezer, but never frog stock. that was hilarious.

Anonymous said...

Certainly haven't attempted it myself, but when trying to figure out what to do with a pair of frog legs I picked up on a whim at Kroger, I did run across a recipe that had you make frog stock as the basis for a gravy. So yeah, there are apparently people out there who do it.