HERE AT PORTLAND MONTHLY, we have a theory: very few foodstuffs cannot be improved by a dip in the deep fryer. So when we discovered that Side Cart, the new cholesterol-loving cart on SW Fifth avenue, will dunk any edible fare you bring ’em, we couldn’t resist putting our hypothesis—and their fryer—to the test. We brought them America’s favorite November indulgence: Thanksgiving dinner. “I don’t know if gastronomical homicide is a thing,” said Side Cart owner Ryan Incles, a man who runs through some 70 gallons of vegetable oil each week frying everything from cheeseburgers to Cadbury eggs, “but we’re pushing it here.” Given that a side dish of Lipitor might have been an appropriate accompaniment to our feast, what conclusion did we reach? Totally worth it.
Our fresh-picked green beans came out wearing a delicious, tempura-like coating. The secret is Side Cart’s batter, made of vodka and rice flour (recipe courtesy of Daniel Siegel, Belly Timber’s executive chef). Because alcohol boils at a lower temperature than water, the HRD vodka Side Cart uses boils off quickly when fried, creating a dry, crispy crust.
More aptly called “mashed potato balls,” these are a bit like round french fries—only much tastier. Note: they pair well with the cranberry sauce.
It might have looked like a deflated football, but our Whole Foods herb-roasted turkey breast was juicy and dressed with a tasty crust that added crunch to every bite.
We were worried that our can of Whole Foods jellied cranberry sauce wouldn’t hold up in sizzling oil. Pshaw. Said one (full) mouth, “It’s like a giant cranberry-jelly doughnut!”
We had to deep-fry this staple frozen, due to, umm, technical difficulties (we forgot to take the pie out of the freezer). But, hey, happy accident: molten pumpkin filling oozed from slices still cold at the core, resembling something approaching deep-fried pumpkin ice cream. Oh, but for some deep-fried whipped cream!
“This might be the most ridiculous thing to come out of our fryer,” said Derek Coughlin, Side Cart’s fryer extraordinaire, of our mini Whole Foods apple pie. But when we brought them back to the office, these leftovers were the first to disappear.