In addition to being a delicious appetizer that feels special, these Goat Cheese Poppers with Honey make for extra awesome croutons on salads and as "meat" balls for vegetarian pasta dishes. Be sure to bring your oil to the right heat before adding the poppers--if the oil is not hot enough, you will end up with a soggy, greasy mess instead of crisp poppers. Available at most stores that carry kitchen equipment for around $10, a kitchen thermometer is an incredibly worthy investment.
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 large egg
3/4 teaspoon sea salt
2/3 cup panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
1 (11-ounce) log soft goat cheese, at room temperature
2 cups grapeseed oil or canola oil
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon minced fresh chives
1/4 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper
How to Make It
Combine flour and black pepper in a small bowl. Whisk together egg, 1/4 teaspoon sea salt, and 2 tablespoons water in a second small bowl. Combine panko and remaining 1/2 teaspoon sea salt in another small bowl.
Roll goat cheese into 24 balls (about 1 tablespoon each). Roll each goat cheese ball in flour mixture, dip in egg mixture, and dredge in panko mixture. Freeze 20 minutes or until firm.
Heat oil to 350° in a deep saucepan over medium-high heat. Fry goat cheese, in batches, 1 to 2 minutes or until golden and crisp on all sides. Remove with a slotted spoon, and place on paper towels to drain.
Arrange goat cheese poppers on a platter, drizzle with honey, and sprinkle with chives and red pepper. Serve immediately.
Sip: André Clouet Grande Reserve Brut, NV Grand Cru, 100% Pinot Noir ($30): "If the lush cherry, strawberry, and cream are not enough to complement the goat cheese and spice from the black pepper and hot red pepper, the decadent, fruity finish should seal the deal." --Michael Velo, bubbly expert from the Carriage House Restaurant in Chicago