Thursday, February 21, 2013

The Walking Dead S3E10 - Homemade Fried Chicken

So generally, I go pretty all out for meals during new The Walking Dead episodes. I find a recipe that's pretty time consuming, plan it out, practically come up with a timeline to schedule everything to be eaten at 6pm (we have DirecTV in Eastern time, so we get to see new episodes first!) and get super excited. Never, ever have I asked Boyfriend what HE wanted. Because who cares, right? Happy live-in-girlfriend, happy life. Or something like.

This time, however, I asked if there would be anything he's interested in me making and he responded with "fried chicken" ... my jaw almost hit the floor. Fried chicken is nothing to scoff at. nor is it easy. But my mind immediately went to a Thomas Keller Ad Hoc recipe.

brining. so much brine.

Colonel Sander's herbs and spices have nothing on Thomas Keller's!

A lot of prep work came with this chicken ... but super easy. Mainly, chicken had to be brined about 12-24 hours ahead of time, then rinsed and dried, and then left to sit out for 1.5-2 hours, to get to room temperature. This ensures that the outside of the chicken won't cook faster than the inside, leaving you with a burned exterior and a raw interior.

When Vanessa asked if I was going to fry in my new Le Creuset cast iron pan (Christmas present!), I told her no ... I was going to deep fry! She then asked "Oh cool, you have a deep fryer?" and I said "Nope, I'm just going to fill a pot with oil" ... she then proceeded to tell me how to put out a grease fire. Smother the flames, don't throw water on it!

With the help of a trusty candy thermometer, I got the oil heated and bubbling to a nice 320degreesF and started frying away. It was a great experience and though the oil bubbled and hissed super loudly, I did not get burned in the slightest.

nicely browned chicken. probably due to the spices and buttermilk.

served with steamed asparagus and Kraft mac-and-cheese

The chicken came out moist and flavorful, if a tad bit salty. Maybe less brining next time? I brined for a total of 20 hours or so, maybe I should cut that down. Boyfriend didn't think it was salty though, and proclaimed it was "one of the best things [I've] ever made" ... always nice to hear. The skin was so crisp and amazing that there were audible crunching sounds when you bit into it ...

Which leads me to the new The Walking Dead episode. I must admit, the crunching from the chicken while watching zombie bashing is seriously a bit unnerving. This week's episode was a bit slow ... and I dislike Dead Lori coming back to haunt Rick some more. Come on, woman! Just leave him alone and let him lead his people. From the trailers, it looks like next week, Rick will have a mutiny on his hands. And the Daryl/Merle abandonment didn't last very long, huh? Actually, the episode was slow ... until the very end. RIP to the best mustache on television. *sad face*

Thomas Keller's Ad Hoc Fried Chicken
as much chicken as you want

Chicken - I used 5 drumsticks and 1 package chicken breast tenders

8 cups water
1/2 cup kosher salt
2 Tbsp honey
6 bay leaves
1/2 head of garlic, cut horizontally
1 Tbsp black peppercorns
1/4 bunch thyme sprigs
1/4 bunch flat leafed parsley sprigs
3-4 sprigs rosemary
Grated zest/juice of 2 large lemons

3 cups all-purpose flour
2 Tbsp garlic powder
2 Tbsp onion powder
2 tsp paprika
2 tsp cayenne pepper
2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper

2 cups buttermilk
grapeseed/canola/vegetable oil for deep-frying

Count your hours down and start making the brine. Combine all the ingredients in a large pot, bring to a boil, and boil for 1 minute, stirring to dissolve the salt. Remove from the heat and cool completely before adding the chicken in. It takes about 1-2 hours.

Rinse the chicken pieces and place in the cold brine. Refrigerate overnight or for 12-24 hours. When ready to cook, remove the chicken from the brine, rinse and pat the chicken dry, removing any herbs or spices sticking to the skin. Let the chicken come to room temperature outside of the fridge, about 1.5-2 hours.

Mix the coating ingredients together in a bowl, transfer half to another second and set up a dipping station for easy assembly while battering: chicken, coating, buttermilk, second bowl of coating, tray.

Bring the oil to 320degreeF in a pot deep enough that the oil does not come up more than 1/3 of the way; make sure you have about 2 inches of oil so the chicken piece can submerge fully. It took almost an entire bottle of oil for me to get this, and I just used a medium saucepot (see picture above). If you have a deep fryer then feel free to use it but the saucepot method worked pretty fabulously.

Right before taking the chicken into it's hot oil bath, dip each piece into the coating, patting off the excess, then into the buttermilk and then into the second bowl of coating. Place the chicken onto the tray. I did this in batches, so while one batch of chicken was almost done frying, I'd coat another batch.

When the oil has reached the proper temperature, carefully lower the pieces of chicken into the oil. The temperature of the oil will decrease, so adjust the heat as necessary to bring the oil to proper temperature. Fry for about 13 minutes for the drumsticks, to a deep golden brown, cooked throughout and very crisp. The white meat chicken tenders took about 8 minutes.

Remove the chicken to a wire rack with a baking sheet underneath, so the oil can drip down and the skin won't become soggy. Alternatively, you can just transfer the chicken to a tray lined with paper towels, if you have no wire rack. Sprinkle with coarse salt (optional, I didn't do that).

Let the chicken rest for a few minutes to cool slightly. Be careful biting into it! Eat fried chicken until you explode.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

The Walking Dead S3E9 - Spicy Rib-Eye Steak

Happy Valentine's Day, everyone! What are you dong with your special persons today? I say persons because I think your valentine can be a member of the opposite sex, your family, your friends, etc. Today is kind of like Christmas ... people go over the top to make someone in their life feel special. So no matter who you are spending time with, just make sure they feel loved.

I bought some rib-eye steaks at 50% off at Ralphs over the weekend and can highly recommend this recipe for either watching zombies get their head bashed in OR your special someone(s). So versatile, huh? Which leads us into the other subject ...

The midseason premiere of The Walking Dead! They need to slow their roll in the people killing. Also, I'm not quite sure I like Rick being delusional and seeing Lori ... hmmm. I'm excited to see how it plays out, but I am NOT happy that Daryl has bounced on out of the group. Also, Michonne is still being a bitch. A glowering, stubbornly-silent-for-no-reason bitch. I know her character is supposed to be cool in the comics but they are doing a terrible job converting that to television.

One last thing ... Beth kissing Rick on the cheek? Kinda gross. But Rick looked kinda into it. Carl is gonna have to shoot his dad in the head and get his woman back.

Spicy Rib-Eye Steak
makes 2 cups marinade

4 bone-in rib eye steaks, 1/2 inch thick
2 Tbps Nemesis* hot sauce
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
6 garlic cloves, chopped
1/4 cup ketchup
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1 Tbps horseradish

Combine all the ingredients, minus the steaks, in a large gallon-sized Ziploc bag and squish everything around to combine. Add more sugar, ketchup or vinegar to balance everything out to suit your tastes.

* I happen to have Nemesis hot sauce and damn that stuff is spicy. The first two ingredients are tomatoes and habanero peppers. You can use any kind of hot sauce you like, including Tobasco. Use more to suit your tastes, but you want the marinade to be pretty spicy, since the flavors will be diluted a bit after wiping off the marinade before grilling. Experiment to find what you like!

Add the steaks, squish again gently to distribute the marinade, and refrigerate for a couple hours. The longer the better. Take steaks out of the refrigerator 30 minutes before cooking and let them come slightly to room temperature.

Heat a grill pan or grill over medium high heat and brush with vegetable oil or non-stick cooking spray. Wipe off excess marinade from steaks and grill 4 minutes on the first side and 3 minutes on the second side for medium rare. Cook longer if you'd like your steaks more well done or if they are thicker than 1/2 inch.

If desired, empty marinade into a small saucepan and cook over medium heat while the steaks are grilling. Serve as a dipping sauce on the side.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Chicken Breast with Mushroom Sage Sauce

So the Superbowl tonight huh? Unlike my undying love (though this season, it's more like undying anger) for the Lakers, I don't have a football team that I root for. Since Boyfriend is a Patriots fan, I generally just root for them, but since the Patriots weren't playing this time, I could take the "west coast team" and root for the 49ers. Though there was a marvelous comeback, the final score just fell a bit short. Sorry for all my friends that are TRUE 49ers fans. *sad emoticon*

The above dish was not something I made for the Superbowl but something I threw together one night after I went spinning at the gym. Umm, there probably shouldn't have been all that cream (or actually, I made a substitute for heavy cream) in it, and I probably shouldn't have given in to the Boyfriend's request for white pasta, but the sauce was oh-so-good. I would probably recommend mashed potatoes next time, as there was not quite enough to coat a bunch of pasta. Or just doubling up on the sauce.

Chicken with Mushroom Cream Sauce
adapted from Simply Recipes
serves 3-4

3 Tbsp butter
1/2 large onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
8 ounces button mushrooms, thickly sliced
1 tsp fresh parsley, chopped
1 cup dry vermouth or dry white wine
2/3 cup heavy cream (or substitute)
3 Tbsp chopped fresh sage
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 1/4 to 1 1/2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken tender pieces
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Additional fresh parsley

Melt butter in a large sauté pan on medium high heat. Add onions and garlic, sauté for until fragrant. Add mushrooms and parsley, and sauté for 5-10 more minutes, until mushrooms are a deep brown and the liquid has evaporated. Add vermouth to deglaze, scraping up any bits that may be sticking to the bottom of the pan (that's where all the flavor is). Stir in the cream thoroughly to incorporate. Bring to a boil, lower heat to medium and cook the sauce down until it is thick enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon (about 10 minutes).

In the meantime while the sauce is cooking down, heat olive oil in another large sauté pan on medium high heat. Sprinkle salt and lots of pepper over both sides of the chicken breast cutlets. Add cutlets to pan and cook for about 2-3 minutes on each side, until cooked through. Make sure you don't overcook, as dry chicken breast is all rubbery and gross.

Stir sage into sauce and season to taste with salt/pepper. Pour sauce over chicken to serve.

Serve alone, with mashed potatoes or pasta, or steamed vegetables. I think broccoli would have been great. Garnish with additional chopped fresh parsley. It'll look fancy.