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Fried Cheese Curds Are Even Better Than Regular Cheese

If you think mozzarella sticks with marinara are the pinnacle of the fried cheese pantheon, prepare to have your mind blown by Tommy Begnaud, the chef at Minneapolis’ Coup d’État restaurant.

Whey and cheddar cheese curds, which squeak when you chew them, are something of a Midwestern obsession. Begnaud enrobes the nuggets in a beer batter that’s generously spiked with Sriracha, then fries them until golden and crispy outside, with a molten cheddar center. In place of red sauce, he makes a green one: a ranch-style dressing with avocado and cilantro.

Sriracha Cheese Curds with Avocado Ranch

Makes 4 to 6 servings

  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped cilantro
  • 1/4 of a ripe avocado
  • 1/2 of a small jalapeño chile, stemmed, seeded and chopped
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons finely minced fresh ginger
  • Zest and juice of 1 lime
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 cup rice flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 12 oz light-bodied beer, such as Budweiser
  • 1/2 cup Sriracha chile sauce
  • 1 lb white cheddar cheese curds
  • Canola oil, for frying

For the avocado ranch: In a food processor, combine the sour cream, mayonnaise, buttermilk, cilantro, avocado, jalapeño, ginger, lime zest and juice, and process until smooth. Transfer to a bowl and season with salt and pepper.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the all-purpose flour, rice flour, salt and baking powder. Whisk in the beer, then the Sriracha, until the batter is smooth. Add the cheese curds so they’re well coated. Line a plate with paper towels and set nearby.

Heat a 3-inch depth of oil in a heavy-bottom pot until it registers 350 degrees on a deep-frying thermometer. When the oil is hot, use your fingers to pull half of the cheese curds from the batter, making sure they’re well cloaked with batter. Carefully drop the curds into the hot oil and fry until deep golden brown for 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from the oil with a spider or slotted spoon and let drain on the paper-towel-lined plate. Repeat with the remaining cheese curds, letting the oil come to temperature between batches. Serve hot, accompanied by the avocado ranch.