Phil Smidt & Son Frog Legs and Tartar Sauce

From 1910 until it closed in 2007, Phil Smidt & Son of Hammond, Ind., was the place Chicagoans went for frog’s legs and parsleyed tartar sauce. At its heyday, Smidt’s served 2,000-plus pounds (35,000 pairs) of the legs and 12 gallons of tartar sauce a month. A little history: Original owner Smidt bowed out of the business in 1976 and bequeathed the restaurant to Calumet College. For four years, Mike Probst managed Smidt’s for Calumet. Probst then bought the restaurant in 1980 and operated it through 2000. With Phil Smidt’s closing, the name and rights to the restaurant went back to Probst who is talking to potential buyers about relaunching the concept in the Chicago area. To satiate many readers’ frog’s-leg cravings in the interim, Probst agreed to share Phil Smidt’s original recipe. Order frog’s legs from your local fish store.

Makes 8 servings

Tartar Sauce Ingredients

1 small bunch Italian flat-leaf parsley, chopped
1 cup sweet dill pickles
1/2 onion
2 cups mayonnaise

Frog Leg Ingredients

Butter-flavored cooking oil, for frying
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons potato flour, optional
1 1/2 teaspoons seasoned salt
2 pounds frog’s legs, the smaller the better
Salt

Instructions

  1. Combine parsley, sweet pickles and onion in a food processor. Pulse until finely chopped. Transfer to a piece of cheesecloth; wrap. Squeeze out as much liquid as possible. Combine parsley mixture and mayonnaise in a bowl; mix well.
  2. Pour 1 inch of oil into a cast iron skillet; heat to 375 degrees over high heat. Mix flours and seasoned salt in a shallow dish. Place frog’s legs in flour mixture; coat thoroughly, shaking off any excess. Fry in hot oil, turning once, until golden brown, 4-5 minutes. Season with salt to taste. Serve with tartar sauce.

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