Fried Mutz With Upstate Raspberry Sauce

A little side salad adds a nice balance to The Fried Mutz- and I also threw in some marinara sauce for the fuddy duddies out there.

Jump to the InstaRecipe if you’re in a rush and/or don’t want any Dad Advice! 

February 15, 2022.  Dear Kids– Fried Mozzarella is something I haven’t thought about since the 80’s- sure, it has lingered around on menus since then, but for me it was more of a fad that faded away after a few years or so.  That was until the younger of you kids started posting fried mozzarella reviews with friends on TikTok and then I knew I had to get back into the game with my recipe for Fried Mutz for you to try, rate and, hopefully, cook one day.

I also never thought twice about the raspberry “Melba” sauce that was often offered as a side to the mozzarella sticks I enjoyed back in the day, but when I mentioned it to the Fried Mutz Review Crew you all reacted with various degrees of disbelief, or perhaps disgust, since the only sauce you ever had on the side of your Mutz was a marinara or similar tomato based concoction.   I was also surprised, with all your reviews, that you had never come across a raspberry sauce, but then, with a little digging, I would find the reason for this was because raspberry sauce with Mutz is a local phenomenon, primarily limited to a certain upstate area in the eastern US that is several hours from your review area- who knew?

Nevertheless, I was so confident in the paring of the Fried Mutz with a raspberry sauce, I had no hesitation at all in adding it to the recipe your Mutz Review Crew would rate on its scale of 1-10 for Presentation, Taste and Overall Experience. The only question was where on that scale- that, among the national chains, had Burger King at the bottom with a 4 and Olive Garden and Denny’s at the top with 7s- would this recipe land.

As it turned out, it was 10s across the board for this recipe, shattering all previous reviews!  Of course, I imagine the scores may have been influenced by the father-child relationship I have with one of the head judges, but nevertheless I would put my Fried Mutz up against all you have and will review with confidence that it would be among the best; especially, with the unique addition of the Upstate Raspberry Sauce.

Diet:  Vegetarian

Prep Time: Sauce: 10 minutes. Mutz: 20 minutes active, 60 minutes inactive. 

Cook Time:  Sauce: 15 minutes.  Mutz: 10-15 minutes (about 4 batches).

Servings: 12 sticks

GET YOUR STUFF OUT

Fried Mutz

  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper to taste
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups panko bread crumbs
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan Cheese
  • 12 ounce “log” of fresh or a rectangular piece or not fresh (low moisture) mozzarella- you could even use 12 sticks of mozzarella string cheese if you were so inclined (see Lecture)
  • canola oil for frying
  • 12 large lettuce leafs, like Bibb or Romaine, for serving, optional
Here’s a nice block of low moisture Mutz the nice lady at the Deli Counter cut off from a large block of Deli Mutz for me. Looks like I forgot the flour and added some nutritional yeast to the salt and pepper that I didn’t mention in the recipe- oops!

Upstate Sauce

  • 12 ounces frozen or fresh raspberries
  • 3 tablespoons of raspberry jam
  • granulated sugar to taste- start with 1/4 cup or so and go from there
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic or other vinegar or to taste, optional
  • freshly cracked black pepper to taste, optional

COOK AND PLAY

Play “Don’t You (Forget About Me)” by Simple Minds, another throwback to the 80s we shouldn’t forget about, and get to making those Sticks.    

1. Crumby Sticks. Cut mozzarella cheese into a dozen “sticks”, around 4 inches long and 1 inch thick (1 ounce+/- each). Set up a breading station with 3 bowls- mix flour with salt and pepper to taste in one; mix eggs to smooth in one; and mix panko and Parmesan in last. Use your “dry hand” to roll a stick in flour and tap off excess. Then use the other, “wet hand”, to roll stick in egg and tap off excess. Finally, use dry hand to roll stick to cover completely and I mean completely! For a thicker coating and more protection against cheese leakage, use wet hand to roll again in egg and then dry had to roll again in crumbs. Set breaded stick on baking sheet and repeat with remaining sticks. Place sheet in freezer for an hourish. 

2. Going Upstate. While sticks chill out, set a medium sauce pan over medium heat and dump in raspberries, raspberry jam and sugar.  Simmer until slightly thickened, stir in balsamic vinegar and black pepper. Taste a cooled spoonful and adjust seasoning as needed. Set up a fine mesh strainer over a bowl, spoon contents of pan into strainer and smash repeatedly with back of large spoon to get strained sauce into bowl.  Discard solids in strainer and set sauce in bowl aside until serving.

3. Frying Time. If you’re new to frying, ask a friend with frying experience for help. Set a large, high sided pot, like a Dutch oven, on stove and fill with canola oil to come up 2 inches from the bottom of the pot- there should be plenty of room from oil to top of pot. Set up frying thermometer in oil and bring oil temp to 350°. Blot any moisture on frozen sticks off with paper towel, then fry in three batches of 4, adjusting heat to maintain oil temp at 350°. Fry until sticks are a nice golden brown, 2 minutes or so.  Transfer fried sticks to cooling rack set on baking sheet, pat surface oil off with paper towels and season with kosher salt to taste. Fried sticks can be held in a 200° oven for a bit if needed. Serve sticks on a plate or platter with sauce and, if using, lettuce leafs on the side.

THE LECTURE

Cheese Containment.  My biggest concern with the recipe was that all the cheese might ooze out of the breading before the sticks were done frying, so I tried out a combination of single and double breading, along with a blast in the freezer, to see what I could see.  I did not fry sticks without the freeze, but both single and double breading worked fine; although, there was a bit of cheese peeking out from the single breaded stick, as you can see from the picture below.  So, make sure your sticks are completely covered in the bread crumbs, especially you single dippers.  As for you double dippers, the breading can get clumpy with all that double dipping, so you may want to hold back on adding half the seasoned crumbs to the third breading bowl until you’re half way through your breading and then add the second half for the last six sticks. In addition, good frying technique helps keep the cheese inside, so make sure you keep your frying temperature at 350° throughout frying- keeping in mind you will almost always have to increase the heat after you add the cold sticks to the oil and keeping an eye on it after that so it doesn’t go over 350°.  

There’s a little cheese ooze here from single breading and, perhaps, letting the frying temp dip too low, but still delicious. Also, did you notice the nearby salt for final seasoning? 25 Bonus Points if you did!

Sizing It Up.  I settled on sticks that were about 4 inches long, an inch thick and weighed about an ounce, which seemed to be close to the size and shape of the Fried Mutz I remember getting back in the day. I know the Fried Mutz Review Crew and others are impressed with the wider and thinner, rectangular Fried Mutz Olive Garden brings to the table, so feel fry to cut your Mutz like that if you’re a fan.  You can use pretty much any shape and reasonable size you like, but shapes with right angles give you the least amount of “waste” and you know Dads don’t like you wasting food! Thinking about saving time and money with string cheese? These darlings of your youth typically measure 6 inches long, are about 1/2 inch thick and weigh about an ounce, which I find on the thin side for my ideal breading to cheese ratio.

Fresh or Not Fresh Mottz?  You will find either fresh or “low moisture” (aka “part skim”) mozzarella at your local grocer. You should be able to find a log of fresh Mutz in the fancy cheese case there, but for a block of low moisture, you’re probably going to have to go to the deli counter and politely ask the Deli Monger (why should cheese and fish people only get such a cool title?) to cut you off a chunk of the low moisture Mutz log he or she has in the case.  Low moisture is the traditional Mutz for sticks, but I was curious how fresh would stand up, so I made a batch or two with fresh Mutz as well.  Both the low moisture and fresh were certainly delicious, so it’s just a matter of taste and cost- the fresh is creamier and costs more, the low moisture is gooier and cost less.  If you’re wondering about the beloved mozzarella string cheese you grew up snacking on, these are made with low moisture mozzarella that is just “pulled” longer when processing than other low moisture Mutz to produce the string effect. “Fun Fact”- mozzarella is the only cheese that can produce string cheese- any other cheese sticks sadly and meekly breaks off into chunks if you try to peel it. I can see how string cheese could be popular in the Young Adult Kitchen- easy to find, no need to butcher and cheap, but, as noted above, I prefer the cut-to-order, stringless Mutz for a better breading to cheese ratio.

Here’s a look at a String Cheese Mutz Stick with tomato sauce from the Test Kitchen.

Sauce Wars.  Getting back to the raspberry sauce- think about it, I’m sure you’ve seen jams on cheese plates- haven’t you?- and if you’ve ever tasted the two together you probably thought they tasted good together- didn’t you? The sweetness of the jam offers a dimension of flavor the Mutz cannot and the addition of the vinegar and pepper to the sauce helps to spruce up the mildness of and balance the fat in the Mutz as well. Of course, if you find you don’t like this combo- whip up a quick tomato sauce or get some out of the cupboard to serve with your Mutz instead.

Lettuce Too?!  If the raspberry sauce wasn’t enough, it dawned on me while we were testing out this recipe that eating the sticks wrapped in a lettuce leaf, as fried spring rolls are sometimes consumed, would also be a nice contrast to the crispy, rich bite of the Fried Mutz. Turns out I, and some of the Mutz Review Crew, did as well, so try it out and see what you think.

© 2022 All rights reserved.  Dad’s Dinner Diary

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