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There is a lot of skepticism these days when you see the word grandma or granny in front of a restaurant’s name. For many people, this creates excitement because no one in the world cooks as well as grandma or granny does. However, when you sit down to dine, and you can tell by looking that those green beans came out of a can, the thought of calling a restaurant by a beloved elder’s name can strike anger in a person’s soul.
I suppose I am so skeptical of grandma and granny named restaurants because I had a grandma and still have a granny and their cooking is bar none. Oh, and I will throw in my mama because she cooks amazing dishes too. So, when someone wants to entice me to dine at their restaurant, then to find out that love wasn’t really poured into every dish, it’s just plain insulting.
One such beloved dish that I love to replicate often is my late grandma’s fried squash. There is nothing like fresh squash picked right out of the garden and lightly fried to perfection. One reason I love her squash other than the taste is that I am pretty sure that my grandma outsmarted most culinary chefs. Her recipe is simple. As much as I love food from all over the world, I have never tasted a better piece of squash.
I do think that people can overcomplicate cooking. Some will try to include science and chemistry in a convoluted way to create complex dishes. My grandma used science when frying her squash too, but nothing complicated, and actually just the opposite.
I loved my grandma’s fried squash so much that I asked her to teach me how to make it a few years before she passed. I was blown away by how much I had overcomplicated the dish. In the past, I have tried to use buttermilk and other binder’s when battering the pieces. My grandma taught me that the only binder that I needed is the one that came from nature, from God. The only binder needed for fried squash is the natural juices that come from within each piece.
I want to share my grandma’s prized squash recipe with you. I added zucchini as well because the recipes for frying are identical. You may be shocked like I was at how simple the recipe is, but I promise you will love each bite!
Just a note- we are camping while I am writing this, so everything was completed outside at the campground. Also, there will not be measurements for this recipe because, in the true grandma spirit of southern cooking, the best recipes aren’t measured.
Grandma’s Fried Squash
Vegetable or Canola Oil
Martha White’s Buttermilk Cornmeal- self-rising
Fresh squash and zucchini
Salt to taste
Slice your zucchini and squash into the thinnest pieces you can while keeping their shape. Place the squash on parchment paper or a roul’pat (these are so amazing). Make sure that the pieces do not touch.
Lightly sprinkle salt on the tops of the squash and let them rest for 15-20 minutes. By cutting the pieces thin and lightly sprinkling salt onto each one, the salt draws out the natural juice of each piece. These juices serve as the binder for the cornmeal, and I promise, that is all you need.
After you visibly see the squash’s natural juices seeping out, place the self-rising cornmeal in a bowl and begin covering each piece of squash and zucchini well.
Place a skillet or braiser on medium-high heat. As the pan is heating, pour oil to cover 1/8 inch of the pan. Don’t place any squash in the pan until the oil is dancing/shimmering. If the oil is smoking, the heat is too high, but if the oil is not dancing/shimmering in the pan, it is not hot enough. If you get low on oil, add more and give it time to heat.
When the oil is dancing well, carefully place single pieces of cornmeal-covered squash and zucchini into the pan. You want the pieces to have space between them so that the oil can properly fry each piece.
It will not take long to brown each side of the squash and zucchini. When you see the sides browning, immediately flip the squash to brown the other side. You want a nice, light brown coating. The breading will also be thin, giving both the vegetable and the skin the most optimal flavor profile.
Line a plate with paper towels so that the towels can soak up any additional grease from frying. Once you have covered the plate’s area with newly fried squash and zucchini, add an additional layer of paper towels on top and continue the process. Depending on how much squash and zucchini you cook determines how many layers of paper towels and vegetables that you will have.
Some folks like to salt their fried squash right when it comes out of the pan. I recommend tasting it first. You can always add more salt, but you can’t take it away once applied. Depending on how much salt is used to draw out the natural juices determines if you need to add more once fried. Usually, I don’t need to add any more salt.
Eat the squash while it is hot. I hope you enjoy fried squash and zucchini as much as I do. This is a recipe that I am super proud and confident when adding the word grandma in front of…it was truly hers, and it is always delicious!
Update: If you love the fried squash and zucchini, I would also recommend frying green tomatoes using the same method. The secret to fried green tomatoes is to use “half-ripe” tomatoes. These tomatoes are easier to fry, and the ripening process gives a fantastic blast of flavor. My grandma would fry tomatoes, although not as often as the squash due to availability. I hope that you enjoy!
Do you have a favorite recipe of your grandmother’s? We would love to hear from you. Please drop us a line in the comment section below!