The new cheese fritters at Pico Autentico
Courtesy of Pico Autentico, credit: Erin Gray
Last month, Andy Badgett and The Condiment Group closed Southern-inspired Relish Restaurant and in its place opened Pico Autentico, serving authentic Mexican fare.
Fans of Relish questioned the move, particularly in light of the national recognition it received for the fried black eyed peas (Food Network’s “The Best Thing I Ever Ate”) and pimento cheese fritters with five-pepper jelly (TLC’s “Best Food Ever”).
Locals also lamented the loss of items such as the Krispy Kreme bread pudding and the cucumber lemonade martini. Both of those items have found their way onto Pico Autentico’s menu, likely due to their popularity.
But what about those fritters? They have been reinvented for Pico Autentico’s menu using pepper-jack cheese, chorizo and roasted poblano peppers — with that same pepper jelly. While I wanted to give the new restaurant some time to settle in, I had to stop in to try the new cheese fritters. Pull one open and you will be rewarded with strings of melted cheese, bits of poblano and tiny dots of red grease, revealing the presence of the chorizo.
Now you can make them at home. Because The Condiment Group so readily shared the recipe for the cucumber lemonade martini, I tried one more time. I asked for the recipe for these new Queso Fundido Fritters and they were once again happy to share:
Bunuelos de Queso Fundido (Cheese Fritters with pepper-jack cheese, chorizo & roasted poblano)
credit: Jenny Turknett
Makes 24-28 fritters
- 4 oz cream cheese
- 1 lb grated pepper-jack cheese
- 8 oz cooked chorizo sausage
- 4 oz roasted-poblano peppers, finely chopped
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 c. flour
- 2 c. buttermilk
- 4 c. Panko bread crumbs
- 2 c. pepper jelly
- oil for frying
- In a large bowl, mix the cream cheese, pepper-jack cheese, chorizo, poblano and salt with a rubber spatula until combined. Chill for 2 hours or overnight.
- Scoop tablespoon size pieces of cheese mixture and roll them into smooth balls.
- Put the flour, buttermilk and panko breadcrumbs in three separate bowls.
- To bread the fritters, place a ball of cheese in the flour and roll it until completely coated. Dust off the excess. Next, add the ball of cheese into the buttermilk and completely coat the cheese. Add it into the panko breadcrumbs and press the breadcrumbs into the cheese. Then repeat the buttermilk and panko breadcrumb steps (the balls of cheese needs to be completely coated or the cheese will leak out during frying). Continue with the fritters until all of them are breaded.
- Chill for 1 hour.
- Add 1 gallon of oil to a large pot. Place the pot over medium heat until a frying thermometer reaches 350 degrees. Fry 6 to 8 fritters at a time for about 3 – 4 minutes and they are golden brown in color. Continue frying until all of the fritters are cooked.
- Serve the queso fundido fritters with the pepper jelly.
You can also check out the AJC’s First Look at Pico Autentico.
–by Jenny Turknett, Food & More blog
– Jenny Turknett writes about Southern and Neighborhood Fare for the AJC Dining Team. She also publishes her own blog, Going Low Carb.