Monday, May 20, 2013

Krissi's Fried Chicken

Best Fried Chicken You'll Ever Eat!!

So I posted pictures from my fried chicken dinner 2 Sunday's ago, and the request for the recipe has been overwhelming.  I am happy to provide it to you.  It's a combination of family recipes, and tricks I've learned over the years.  I've become pretty well known for my fried chicken, and that says something to me, beings that my Grandfather, my Bampi, hails from southern farmhouse roots.  

However, when I knew my chicken was absolutely up there with the greats, was when an old southern black woman, descended from slaves (so she told me), oversaw me in the kitchen at a battered woman's shelter I was staying at with my then baby boy, while escaping an abusive relationship.  

She loved that I was so interested in cooking and getting it right.  The first night she had me make fried chicken as I knew it.  She tasted it, said "it's alright child, but you got a lot to learn".  The next night we met in the kitchen and she taught me the best fried chicken I have ever eaten.  

Now with no disservice to Ms. Thelma, I have tweaked the spices to my own liking, but it's still up there with  hers.  Sadly, I heard she passed about 9 years ago, but I'm sure if she could taste my version of her recipe, she would be proud that I did her justice.  

This post is dedicated to Ms. Thelma.  She taught me a lot in a very difficult time in my life.  Wish I would have got to spend more time with her under different circumstances. 

Ingredients:
1 whole fryer chicken, cut into pieces

1/4 cup Franks Red Hot hot sauce
2 cups buttermilk**

2 cups all purpose flour
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (optional)
2 tsp of Adobo
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp garlic powder
2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp cumin
1 1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp salt

Vegetable Oil
Butter

Method:

As I have shown you in a previous blog, Chicken Butchery 101, butcher your chicken accordingly, until you have all your pieces ready to go, like in the picture below.  


Place chicken in a large bowl.  Pour 1/4 cup of Frank's Red Hot over the pieces.  



Mix the chicken with the sauce with your hands until all pieces are coated.  Add 2 cups of buttermilk, enough to coat the chicken.  If you need more, use it.  The chicken should be drowning.

                                               


Soak for at least 1 hour or up to overnight, covered in the refrigerator.  Next, get started on your flour mixture.  Place everything in a big bowl.  Remember to lick your finger and stick it in the flour mixture.  If it's not seasoned enough, go ahead and add more.  I suggest sticking with my recipe for now, until you become more comfortable with seasoning.  Then, go ahead and get crazy.  


Use a cast iron skillet (if you do not own one, a heavy bottomed frying pan will do, but bear in mind the importance of that cast iron for even cooking and optimal frying), and put about 1 1/2 inches of vegetable oil in there.  Put your flame on medium high and allow it to heat up.  Also, this is the time you want to get your oven on 350.  Just do it, all questions will be answered at the end.  


Throw in 4 TBSP of butter into the vegetable oil. Next, is one of Thelma's tricks, which I will always use for the rest of my life.  Take 1 onion and quarter it, leaving the root on the bottom so the 1/4'd pieces stay intact.  Place the onions in the oil.  When the onions have browned up, your oil is hot enough and ready for frying, AND it has onion flavor to add to your chicken. 



When the onions are almost burnt, remove from the pan and place on the side.  These are actually great for garnish or snacking.  Onion chips.  Mmmmm.



Now comes the fun part!  Take your marinated chicken and dip it into your flour mixture until well coated.  Shake off excess.  Place it BACK INTO the buttermilk/hot sauce mixture and then back in the flour again.  This is actually an instance where double dipping is ok. ;-)



Once all your pieces are coated and on a wire rack, you are ready to fry baby!  Place the chicken SKIN SIDE DOWN into the hot oil.  Leave it alone for 2-3 minutes and check.   


When you have a beautiful golden brown crust like this, it's ready to flip.  


Now, I cannot stress this part enough.  So listen carefully.  Place a wire rack on top of a cookie sheet.  Again, place a wire rack on top of a cookie sheet.  As your chicken fries, place it on the wire rack and into a 350 degree oven.  You will want to cook your biggest pieces first.  Breasts take the longest, followed by legs, thighs, wings and finally the tenderloins.  You want to get your breasts fried up and in the oven so they are cooking while the other pieces are being fried up.  


Go ahead and continue frying the rest of your chicken pieces and adding it to the oven.


Check the temperature of your chicken with a meat thermometer.  Chicken should be about 165, so I always pull mine between 155 and 160 because it will continue to cook as it rests.  Insert your meat thermometer into the thickest part of the meat without hitting the bone for the best accuracy.

When all your chicken is done and up to temperature, keep on wire rack to rest for at least 5 minutes.  


If you have done everything right, you will have moist, fully cooked chicken packed full of flavor.  You will never eat fast food chicken again.  It is worth the effort. 


I served mine with some buttermilk mashed potatoes, candied carrots and my cornbread recipe that I have in a previous blog.  You can find that here:  Iron Skillet Cornbread

 

Listen, don't get all nuts on yourself if it doesn't come out right the first time. Cooking is supposed to be fun.  When you make it fun, it won't be work, and then you won't be so ticked off when things don't come out right.  

I thought I made the best fried chicken, til Ms. Thelma schooled my ass.  I am grateful to her everyday, cause I must say, my fried chicken is incredible.  I hope you think so too!  

To get the latest on what I'm up to, where I've been eating, or for meal suggestions, discussions and just the awesomeness that is me, check out and "like" my Facebook page at: Rotund Chef - Facebook.

Also, don't forget to watch me compete on MasterChef!!  Season 4 airs this Wednesday, May 22nd on FOX.  Check your local listings for times.  

Happy frying my little hens!!!  

Deliciously yours, 
The Rotund Chef

** Buttermilk - You can make your own version of buttermilk by putting 1 tsp lemon juice into 1 cup of milk and letting it sit for about 30 mins at room temperature.  

Monday, May 6, 2013

Chicken Butchery

Chicken Butchery 101

We are a society obsessed by convenience, however, complain that we spend too much money.  

Buying a whole chicken or 2 when they are on sale and taking 10 minutes out of your life to butcher it yourself saves you SO much money.  Sometimes you can get whole chickens for as little as 29 cents a pound if you catch the right sale.  Boneless chicken breast can sometimes be 4.99 a pound!!  And organic chicken sections?  Forget it.  Who can afford that constantly?  I know I can't on my single mom budget. 

Not only do you get the satisfaction of butchering your own bird, but you can save the carcass and freeze it for stocks.  Homemade stock is amazing, because it can be used for SO many things and you can freeze it in pint containers or quart size ziplock bags to use as needed.  Okay, I'm getting off track.  Back to the bird.

Oh you don't know how to butcher a chicken?  Well, here I am, to save the day and your piggy bank.  Trust me, it's not as hard or crazy as it looks.  

Here is a step by step guide and tips on how to butcher the perfect bird.  

Knives ready!!!

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You always want to work on a plastic cutting board.  NEVER use wood cutting boards for raw meats.  Here I have a 7 lb whole chicken.  It is breast side up and just waiting for me to start performing surgery on it.  


First thing we want to do, is to make 2 slits where the leg connects with the breast.  Cut just deep enough so that you can see the fat lines.  Press the legs down on your board so that they seem to be flat.




Next, flip your bird over and feel for the section where the thigh ends and the body of the bird begins.  You should be able to get your fingers down into the "groove".


Now take the leg and thigh section that you just found and place your thumb in the groove.  Bend the leg and thigh toward you until you hear the snap of the bone breaking off from the body.  Obviously, do this on both sides.  


Flip the bird back over to the breast side up, and using your bone break as a guide, cut the thigh/leg from the body.  You will be left with the leg attached to the thigh.



With the bird still breast side up, feel along the center for the breast bone.  This breast bone is going to be your guide in removing your breast from the bone.  (If you would like to leave your bone on the breast, I will show you how to do that at a later date).  


Using the breast bone as a guide, start making long sweeps with your blade, while pressing against the bone for a guide.  The breast will start to come apart and you should just follow the guide nature gave you in the bone and your common knowledge of what a chicken breast looks like.  Also towards the front of the breast section you will hit the wishbone with your knife.  Use the wishbone as a guide for the top part of the breast.

The chicken is really one of the easiest birds to butcher, because with the fat lines and bones, it really is like nature's guide to perfect chicken butchery.





Once you have removed both breasts, you will see a fat line where the wing connects to the body.  Again, that is nature's little guide.  Cut the wing off using the fat line as your guide.  

Remember, there are joints and bones.  This was at one point an animal.  Feel free to poke around and find the joints and try to break it, or slice through where the joints connect so you don't have to go through straight bone.  Practice makes perfect.  Don't get frustrated.  Pretty soon you will be able to butcher a chicken in under 3 minutes.  



You should now have 2 wings.    You're doing good, but we're not done yet.


Next we need to separate the thigh from the leg.  Again, nature has provided its fat line for a guide.  You can feel around for the bone/joint but this section is a little more difficult to cut.  Find the area with your fingers where to make the cut.  Place your blade on the section and use the bottom palm of your hand and smash down on the blade to get through the bone.  You might have to whack it once or twice.  Don't worry, it's already dead.


Now we are left with the carcass.  Don't throw that away dummy!!  Wrap it up and freeze it so you can use it for stock.  I'll teach you how to make awesome stock another day.  So just save it.  Please and thank you.  


Okay, so one more thing.  You can skip this if you want, but I'll show you how to do it anyway.  We want to tuck our wings.  This is good for frying and baking.  Wings are delicious, probably my favorite part on the chicken.  

So, we have our wing and it is facing up.  


Flip it over in your hands.


 Take the drumstick part and fold it towards you and up.


Take the wing tip and pull it up and tuck it in front of the drumstick.


Your wing should look like this.  

.

 That wasn't so bad was it? Oh stop, you sound like a baby.  Besides, isn't it an accomplishment you just saved however much money and are about to eat the chicken you butchered?  C'mon that's cool.

So here are your lovely chicken pieces.  The two pieces at the bottom are the tenderloins that I removed from the breast.  This is what chicken tenders in the store are made from, and now you know why they are so expensive.  Al that work for two little tenderloins.


Listen, if this is your first time, don't get discouraged.  It's not as hard as you're making it.  Keep practicing and you will be a pro before you know it.  

For this and other tips, recipes, dinner suggestions and witty banter, "like" me on Facebook at:  Facebook - Rotund Chef

Happy butchering!!

Deliciously yours,
The Rotund Chef

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Iron Skillet Cornbread

"You gon' eat cho cornbread??"

Iron Skillet Cornbread

I love cornbread.  I love it cold, I love it hot.  Sweet or savory style.  Its awesome.  And the best cornbread is made in a cast iron skillet.  

I absolutely love my cast iron skillet.  I can't live without it.  It's my favorite thing in my kitchen.  So, making cornbread in it, is just another way to utilize my favorite piece of kitchen equipment.  

Cornbread is simple and easy to make.  It's best when its just out of the oven, and your butter gets all melty (that's a word, I just made it up).  

There are lots of variations to cornbread.  I chose a savory version today.  I also used butter instead of bacon grease.  I'll give you the full recipe and then towards the end, I'll give you some variations.  

Cornbread!!!!

Ingredients:


3 TBSP melted butter
2 TBSP butter for skillet
1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup white or yellow cornmeal
1 TBSP sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soday
2 eggs
1 cup of buttermilk

Method:

Preheat oven to 425.  Place 2 TBSP of butter in the cast iron skillet.  Put into the oven to heat the skillet up and melt the butter.  



While the butter and skillet are heating up, beat two eggs together.  Add in 3 TBSP of melted butter and whisk until frothy.  Rain in sugar.  Continue to whisk.  Add flour and mix until a thick paste forms.  




Next you want to add half of the buttermilk and mix.  Then add half of the cornmeal, mix.  Repeat until incorporated nicely.  



Add in your powder, soda and salt.  Mix until everything is incorporated.


Chop 2-3 scallions.  Separate the darker green pieces from the lighter ones.  Add the lighter ones into the batter and reserve the darker ones for topping.  



Take the skillet out of the oven and using a pastry brush, brush all over the inside of the skillet.



At this point you want to add your batter and smooth out.  There will be some butter that pushes up along the sides.  You will think it looks wrong but it's fine.  Just leave it.  



Top with chopped green onions and place in the over for about 12-15 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean.  Slice, top with butter and enjoy!!!  




Variations:

You can substitute the butter for bacon grease, add chopped bacon and top with cheddar cheese.  

You can add a drained can of whole kernel corn.

For a sweeter version, add 1/4 cup of sugar and sprinkle top with raw sugar before going into the oven. 
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Feel free to do all of the above or none.  The version I made is not very sweet.  It's a more savory version.  You can add or take away sugar, but do not adjust anymore than 1/4 cup or it will alter the recipe.  

Cornbread is so versatile.  You can do it in the cast iron skillet, in a 8x8 baking dish or individual cornbreads in a greased cupcake tin.  It's up to you.  

For this and other recipes, tips, dinner ideas and witty banter, "like" me on Facebook at:  Facebook - Rotund Chef

Deliciously yours,
The Rotund Chef