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Chicken-Fried Skate

This image courtesy of Daniel Krieger

Skate used to get a bad rap, but in recent years all sorts of chefs are doing all sorts of fancy things with it. But I think skate benefits from the simple Southern technique of "chicken frying," as in chicken-fried steak. Some people also call it "country-frying." Regardless, it means dredging pounded cutlets of your protein of choice in milk and then four, panfrying them, and slathering them with peppered-up gravy. Skate is pretty forgiving both in butchering and preparation, but its mild flavor needs a gentle hand, or better, the soft caress of herbs. Marjoram is like the Skipper to oregano's Barbie--just a little more sophisticated, with some piney favors; tarragon brings a punch of anise.

NotesTip

This dish should be served right when it's prepared--skate can get ammoniated quickly, so it's important to prepare it the day you get it from your fishmonger.

Makes4 fillets; a light meal for 2 or a hearty meal for 1

Preparation Time10 min

Preparation Time - Text10 minutes

Cooking Time10 min

Cooking Time - Text10

Cooking Methodpan-frying

CostModerate

Total Timeunder 30 minutes

Make Ahead RecipeYes

Kid FriendlyYes

One Pot MealYes

OccasionCasual Dinner Party, Cooking for a date

Recipe Coursemain course

Dietary Considerationegg-free, peanut free, soy free, tree nut free

Five Ingredients or LessYes

Mealdinner

Taste and Texturecreamy, savory

Ingredients

  • Sheet pan with rack
  • Whisk
  • Three shallow baking dishes or bowls
  • Cast-iron skillet
  • Spatula or fish spatula
  • 4 skate wing fillets, skinned and boned (which in this case means the cartilage removed)
  • 1?4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1?4 cup rice four
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh marjoram
  • 1?2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1?2 cup whole milk
  • 1?2 cup fish stock or clam juice
  • Vegetable oil, for frying
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh tarragon

Instructions

  1. Prep the skate: Preheat the oven to 225°F. Place a sheet pan fitted with a rack in the oven.

  2. Cut the fillets into similarly sized portions, scaling the larger ones down to the size of the smaller. Don't fret if one is a little bigger than the other. Prep the dredge. Whisk together the fours, marjoram, baking powder, and 1?2 teaspoon of the salt and divide between two baking dishes. In a third baking dish or shallow bowl, combine the milk and stock.

  3. Fry the skate: Heat 1?4 inch of oil over medium-high heat in a large cast-iron skillet.

  4. Dredge the skate fillets, one at a time, in the dry dredge, then one at a time in the wet, and then into the second dry. Don't discard the wet or dry dredge, because we are making gravy with it in a few minutes.

  5. Gently place a couple of the dredged fillets into the hot oil and fry for 2 to 3 minutes per side, flipping, or until the edges are golden. Do not crowd the skillet.

  6. Using a spatula or fish spatula, transfer the fillets to the prepared sheet pan in the oven to keep warm. Continue frying the rest of the skate. Transfer the final round of skate fillets to the sheet pan, and turn off the oven.

  7. Make the gravy: Drain out all but about 1 tablespoon of the oil from the skillet and discard. Reduce the heat to low. Whisk 1 tablespoon of the remaining dry dredge into the fat in the skillet and cook for 1 minute, whisking. While whisking vigorously, add the remaining wet dredge, the tarragon, and the remaining 1?2 teaspoon salt. Cook, whisking continually to work out the lumps, until thickened to a gravy like consistency, an additional 1 to 2 minutes.

  8. PLATE IT! This is an incredibly comforting dish but lighter than its steak counterpart. I make this at the end of a long shift, and eat it out of a to-go container, slathered with gravy, on public transit. If you don't have access to a restaurant to work in, put this on plates with the gravy served on the side (see Break It). This is great with the crunch of the Radish Caprese or the heat of the Chilled Corn Soup.

  9. BREAK IT: Replace the tarragon with cilantro and add some adobo sauce from a can of chipotles to the gravy for a smoky effect.

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