Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Southern Hospitality: Chicken and Waffles

Frequently floss hoes at Roscoe's If I wanna squirt her, take her to Fatburger
Notorious BIG, Going Back to Cali

As a skinny white kid growing up in eastern Ontario, I didn't have much exposure to proper Southern cooking. Indeed, I'd be completely ignorant of the whole cuisine were it not for hip hop. Collard Greens, ham hocks, chitlins, grits are all things I'd only heard about in hip hop. Add to that list the odd coupling of fried chicken and waffles, the speciality of LA institution Roscoe's.

So far, my experiences with the neighbourhood fried chicken have alternated between being somewhat or very disappointing, with only the Koreans being able to manage decent, affordable fried chicken -- Model Milk's great (if a bit rich) version not withstanding. With my vegetarian wife headed out of town for 2 weeks, I had a 14 day meat binge planned (hey, it's calming) and I was determined to try my own hand at making some fried chicken at some point during her absence.

I consulted the Food Network's Southern Sages: Emeril, Alton, and of course, Deen (ha!) and synthesized their recipes into something which made sense to me. It ended up being mostly Alton's process with Emeril's ingredients.

Ingredients for the Fried Chicken
  • 1 2-3lb fryer chicken
  • 3-4 cups buttermilk
  • 2-3 cups flour for breading
  • Oil for deep frying
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp dried thyme

Step 1: Create spiced buttermilk marinade and break apart the chicken.
- Break apart the  chicken into pieces. The breasts should be split into halves as well.
- In a small bowl, combine all the spices.
- Place the chicken parts in a large bowl and add enough buttermilk to cover. Add half the spice mixture and mix.
- Marinate overnight, turning a couple times.

Step 2: Bread the chicken
- Add the reserved half of the spices to the flour and split evenly between a plastic bag and a bowl.
- Taking care to let most of the buttermilk drip off each piece, take all of the chicken pieces out of the marinading bowl - but keep that tasty bowl of buttermilk handy.
- Dip the chicken pieces into the bowl of flour, then into the buttermilk bowl and then drop them into the bag and shake. Set on a rack.
Ghetto breading station
Step 3: Deep fry the bits
- Deep fry the chicken in small batches taking care not to crowd the pan in 325 deg. F oil until internal temperature reaches about 180 degrees F. Let drain on a rack and/or paper towels.

Step 4: Sides
- While you're frying the chicken, make your favourite batch of waffles. I think I used a variation on this recipe from The Surreal Gourmet, but I ended up changing it quite a bit, taking out the squash and the ham.

Actually, these waffles were a bit of a dissappointment, so I wouldn't use that recipe if I were you. I also put together a quick mustard-based spicy coleslaw.

Finally. Enjoy!

I initially used too much salt (measurements listed here are altered), and I had the oil running a bit too hot, hence the dark colour of the chicken. But it was hella crisp and still beat anything else I've had by a wide margin, so mission accomplished.

A word to the wise: if you're on your own, I don't suggest starting out the week with this recipe because you'll be eating fried chicken leftovers all week. Which isn't too bad, but by midweek you start to feel pretty unhealthy. Consider yourselves warned.
Marco Web Developer

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