How to Throw a Crappie Party

This is an outside operation—the odor will take years to air out of a kitchen.

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Photo by Hayley Harrison

You pray for days when the crappie fishing is so relentlessly good that you’re giggling like a kid and the only things you’re lacking in life are another stringer and an extra hour on the water. But what do you do with that pile of freshly caught crappies spilling out of your cooler? Call your pals for a mega-fry. You’ll want some help filleting, dredging, and battering the fish, and providing side dishes. (You’d be surprised what people will do for fried fish and free beer.)

This is an outside operation—the odor will take years to air out of a kitchen. Remove the pieces as soon as they float to the top of the oil. Serve in shifts, so that your guests are getting their fish hot from the fryer. And don’t forget to frequently “test” the fish as it comes out of the oil (the beer needs regular sampling, too).

Ingredients

*1 pound of crappie fillets, cut into ­fingerlike strips
12 ounces ale or any full-bodied beer
1 1⁄2 cups corn flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon paprika
1⁄2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 cup flour
Fresh peanut or canola oil

*Multiply the ingredient amounts, listed here for 1 pound of fillets, by the number of pounds of fillets you’ve got on hand.

Directions

[1] Empty the beer into a large bowl. (It hurts, I know.) Add the corn flour, salt, paprika, and cayenne to the bowl and whisk until you have light and frothy batter. Refrigerate for at least an hour but up to five days.

[2] In a deep fryer or deep skillet, heat at least 2 inches of oil to 375 degrees. Dredge the fillets in flour, shaking off any excess; then dip them in the beer batter, coating them well. Fry them in the oil until perfectly golden and drain on paper towels. Serve with lemon wedges, tartar sauce, and hot sauce.