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Nashville Meets California Hot Paneer Pita



Brine: – 2 c pickle juice – 1 c juice from pickled peppers – 3/4 c pickle slices – 3/4 c pickled peppers Cheese: – 7 lb low-sodium Real California Paneer cheese (in large block form), cut in 4 x 4–in blocks – As needed salt and pepper – 1 qt Real California buttermilk – 4 ea large eggs, beaten – 3 tbsp hot sauce – 3 c all-purpose flour – 1 1/2 tbsp smoked paprika – 1 1/2 tbsp cayenne – 2 qt vegetable oil, for frying Hot & Spicy Oil: – 1 c cayenne – 4 tbsp brown sugar – 1 tbsp ghost pepper flakes or powder – 3 tbsp smoked paprika – 3 tbsp garlic powder – 1 tbsp ground cumin – As needed salt and pepper Serving: – 24 ea pita bread pockets – As needed creamy coleslaw – As needed pickle slices
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For the Brine:

1. In a large bowl, combine the pickle juices, pickles, peppers, and salt.

For the Cheese:

1. Using a fork, dock the cheese so the brine can get in, but do not break the blocks up.

2. Add the cheese to the bowl of brine. Add enough water to cover the cheese. Cover and refrigerate to brine for at least 4 hours or up to 24.

3. When you’re ready to cook, remove the cheese and pat it dry. Cut into 2 x 1–inch pieces. Season them with salt and pepper.

4. In one large container, whisk together the buttermilk, eggs, and hot sauce.

5. In another container, stir together the flour, paprika, and cayenne.

6. Heat the oil in a deep fryer or pot to 350°F.

7. Dredge the cheese pieces in the seasoned flour, then into the buttermilk mixture, then into the flour one more time.

8. Fry the cheese 3 to 5 minutes, or until it turns golden brown. Remove and drain on a paper towel–lined tray or on a wire rack.

For the Hot & Spicy Oil:

1. Add the cayenne, sugar, pepper flakes, paprika, garlic powder, cumin, salt, and pepper to a heatproof bowl.

2. Carefully scoop out ¾ c of the hot frying oil. Whisk it into the seasonings until well combined.

For Serving:

1. Brush the Hot & Spicy Oil over 3 ½ to 4 oz crispy cheese and place in a pita pocket. Cut in half.

2. Serve topped with pickle slices and creamy slaw.

Yield: 24 servings

Chef Notes: Paneer cheese does not melt easily so it holds up well in this application. The texture is much like white meat chicken when fried, so this dish is a great vegetarian alternative. Although paneer is low sodium, it still has a lot of salt, so be careful adding more. Try drizzling some of the hot oil over the slaw right before serving to help meld the flavors.

Recipe courtesy of Chef Matt Burton, REVERB by Hard Rock, for the California Milk Advisory Board