When someone walks into Dealbreaker headquarters, it’s my job as Chef de cuisine to make sure he or she doesn’t leave without getting stuffed with food. I do this chiefly out of my lifelong passion for feeding people but also for safety reasons. I more than anyone understand an empty stomach is the kind of thing that can get you into major trouble, and you should too. As many of you will recall, private equity manager Russell Stildolph learned that lesson the hard way, on Nov. 19, 2010.
Now it’s unclear as to what Russell did the bulk of that evening, but we know how the night ended. Just before midnight, Russell tried to park his Porsche 911 Carrera in a makeshift second-story garage, aka the roof of a neighbor’s house a half mile away from his own. Russell told cops he didn’t remember what happened, not surprising considering his blood alcohol content was more than twice the legal limit.
Russell could’ve saved the stitches, fines, legal troubles all by doing one simple thing. EATING. You know what lowers your blood alcohol content? FOOD! And, according to some research, you know what’s the best kind of food to eat when you’re drinking? GREASY food! Oh Russell. Where have I been all your life?
I haven’t reviewed the security video at the bar from that night, but I’m guessing, Russell didn’t eat very much that brisk November Friday. Sure, he may’ve picked at a bowl of high-end waxy snack mix at the bar, but that’s not a meal.
If Russell was under my purview now, and I’m not confirming or denying he is, Nov. 19, 2010, would have ended very differently because it would have STARTED very differently. Each sip of 1800 Silver Tequila or whatever he drank would have been followed by a bite of one of the world’s favorite, greasy foods: mozzarella sticks.
And I don’t care if they weren’t on the menu. Improvise. A stunod could make my foolproof recipe for sticks. Russell could’ve stumbled into the kitchen himself, sliced a block of mozzarella into six pieces and fried them up himself. Hell, even if he drunkenly mistook cheddar for mozzarella, it would barely matter. These are delicious no matter what type of cheese you use. Except something pungent.
What other excuses could he have for not eating? He was in a rush? Please. He could’ve ordered (or made) the sticks to go, put the box on his passenger seat and stuffed a cup of marinara in the car’s cupholder (some foreign sports cars don’t have ‘em, but some of my higher-end patrons assure me most 911s have a bizarre but useable cupholder hanging on the front dash, perfect for dipping while keeping your eyes on the road. )
I’m telling you, there’s no excuse for this to ever happen again to Russell or anyone. If you’re going out at night, and you know adult beverages are making an appearance, make the mozzarella sticks and shove ‘em in your glove box. One stick for every shot, which, going by Russell's BAC, would mean approximately 3 dozen pieces of fried delight.
And as if you need any more incentive, these aren’t the kind of mozzarella sticks you buy at a bad diner at 2 a.m., frozen and never fresh but still $8.75 for six. No. These’ll blow those out of the water. These can win you an award at the family mozzarella stick fry off. And to honor Russell, and his hopefully changed ways, I decided to name them after his beloved automobile, which he now knows can double as an eatery.
Fried Mozzarella en Carrera
2 eggs, beaten
¼ cup milk
1 1/2 cups Italian seasoned bread crumbs
1 tsp dried oregano (don’t measure it, I trust you)
1 tsp dried basil (ditto)
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
Salt and pepper
1/3 cup cornstarch
1 16 ounce package of mozzarella, cut into 8 sticks, or 8 pieces of string cheese
Marinara Sauce (see note*)
1. Beat the eggs with the milk in a bowl.
2. With a fork, stir the bread crumbs together in a bowl with the garlic powder, basil and oregano until they’re combined. With the same fork but in a separate bowl, stir the flour, cornstarch and a good dash of salt and pepper.
3. In a saucepan or small skillet, pour in enough vegetable oil that it the entire sticks will be submerged in oil. Turn the pot to high and heat it to 365 degrees, which should take about 2 minutes.
4. Dip the mozzarella into the flour, then the egg wash, then the bread crumbs. Throw ‘em in the oil. They should cook for about 40 seconds, and then they’re done. You know what a good mozzarella stick looks like.
5. When they’re done, carefully take them out with thongs and lay them on paper towels or brown paper bags. Nothing drains grease like brown paper bags. That’s your tip of the day.
6. Serve with the hot marinara sauce and don’t drink and drive.
*For the marinara sauce, you’re not ready for my recipe yet so make it the way you make it or pick up a jar of Rao’s Homemade Marinara Sauce. Heat it up, and add a little fresh or dried basil to it. It’ll make a difference.