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Sunday, October 15, 2017

Home Style Southern Fried Chicken.

Chicken with home-made dirty rice. I was feeling my inner Bojangles.

Fried chicken. I love it. It's probably one of the most popular meals in North America. Everyone has their own recipes and methods for making it, and they all stand by it. My recipe? It's taken a long time to get it to the way it comes out now - crispy, juicy, and deep with flavor. I also use a deep fryer at 375°. You may prefer to use a pan or air fryer. This will work with a pan (preferably cast iron) but you will probably have to finish it in the oven. Never tried an air fryer, but because it's double dredged, not sure how it'll turn out. If it works for you, let me know.

 Are all the ingredients conventional? No.But they all work together. I'm sure you will agree. 

You will need (for a club pack of chicken parts or one prepared bird):

First dredge:
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup cornstarch
1 tbsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. onion powder
1 tsp. pepper
1/2 tsp. paprika

1-2 eggs
1 cup milk
1/4 cup water

Primary dredge:
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup biscuit (such as Bisquick) mix
1/2 cup cornstarch
3 tsp. seasoned salt
1 tbsp. sugar
1 tbsp. garlic powder
1 tbsp. onion powder
2 tsp. smoked paprika (or regular paprika, if you don't have smoked)
2 tsp. Italian seasoning
1 tsp. thyme
1 tsp. crushed rosemary (mortar and pestle or spice grinder will work)
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 packet onion soup mix
1 tbsp. either Montreal Chicken seasoning or Spicy Pepper Medley
1 tsp. or to taste cayenne*  - optional

For frying - canola oil

(*if you're looking for a flavor something like Bojangles or Popeye's.)

Dredges and wash lined up assembly line style.
Mix the dredges and wash in their own respective bowls. Set up a line to load the fryer. With the primary dredge, only put about half into the line bowl at first, as you may not need it all and can save it for the next batch. Heat up the oil and lower the basket (the chicken tends to stick to the wire otherwise.)

The ol' beast... oil is heating up.
Dredge the chicken in the first dredge, cover it with wash, and then through the final dredge. Ease each piece into the hot oil. Don't overload the batch - it'll drive the oil temperature down and could make the skin greasy and prevent it from crisping up.

First batch out of the fryer!
There's debate over determining when chicken is done. My general rule is: if it's floating, let it go for another minute or two, then rack it and drain it. Put your oven on warm and continue until all your batches are complete. Serve with your favorite sides and enjoy!

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Jersey Style Pizza Sauce.

Rich, delicious, and best of all... easy.

Growing up in South Jersey near the shore, pizza was something we always took for granted. Go to the mall, grab a slice, and hang out. Or walking along the boardwalk with one of those massive slices from the three foot wide pizzas on display. It never occurred to me that what I enjoyed was unique to the Tri-State area.

I found out soon enough. Most of the towns in other states only had chain pizza places, if they had pizza at all. In Germany, I was introduced to the crispy thin crust of the pizzeria outside our base. They were great- and even threw chopped garlic on it before baking - but it wasn't home.

I began looking for ways to duplicate the taste of home. I managed to get the crust right, but I needed the sauce as well. Something with a rich flavor, earthy sweetness, and just a little bite. After much digging and trial and error, I finally created my own version. Some of the techniques are borrowed, but the result is unique. You can use it for pizza, calzones, (or as they call them here, panzerottis,) strombolis, basically anything that has a bread base and is covered with toppings. Try it. You will definitely love it.

You'll need:
Either - 1 28 oz can of crush tomatoes, or 1 1/2 cups crushed tomatoes and 4-6 fresh tomatoes, puréed
1 large or 2 medium onions,cut in half
3 cloves of crushed garlic
2-3 sprigs of fresh basil
Kosher salt
1 tsp. oregano
1-2 tsp sugar
1 tsp. butter
2 tbsp or so olive oil
pinch of red pepper flakes

In a medium sauce pan, warm oil and butter over medium heat. Once heated, add garlic stir for about three seconds, and add tomatoes, oregano, a dash of salt, the sugar, and red pepper flakes. Stir until seasonings are blended in, then add the onion halves and basil, as pictured below:

Just the beginning of something great. (Yeah I posed the basil a bit.) 

Reduce heat and simmer, checking and stirring, ensuring the sauce doesn't stick and the onions don't caramelize ( it changes the color and flavor of the sauce... and not too favorably.) Taste along the way - adjust a little if need be, and if you find it too thick, thin it a little with broth (your choice) or tomato juice. Don't think there's enough basil? Add a little dried. It works in a pinch.

Almost ready...
After about an hour and a half the sauce will slowly render down and thicken to the perfect pizza sauce. At that point, remove the sprigs and onions and discard them. Turn off the heat, stir, and let cool a little before putting it onto your fresh dough. Enjoy!

Home made stromboli, using both my dough and sauce.