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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!

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Tri - State Pizza Dough.

Perfect crust that's hand tossed and folds well, because that's how you eat a slice.
 Pizza dough. The main building block of most Italian style fast foods: pizza, calzones, or strombolis, to name a few. Everyone has their favorite style, but if you ask anyone from New York, New Jersey, or Pennsylvania and lives somewhere else what they miss most about home - pizza. There's nothing else like it.
Just your average cheese pizza at the Sawmill, Seaside Heights, NJ.
What I found out after I left my home state was that if I ordered pizza, I either ended up with something on a prefab (read cardboard) dough or a flavorless white bread style dough. I couldn't take it anymore. So now I know the way to make what I call Tri - State dough, based mostly on the New York style method. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

A few simple ingredients...

You'll need:
for the starter:
packet of yeast (pizza yeast, if available)
1/2 cup flour (bread flour is best)
1 cup warm water
1 1/2 tsp. sugar

2 cups flour (also, bread flour is best, but all purpose works)
2 tbsp olive oil
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/2 to 1 tsp. garlic powder

also; extra flour for kneading, and approximately a tbsp. or so of olive oil

In a small bowl, mix starter ingredients and whisk with a fork until thoroughly mixed, set aside for approximately 20 minutes or until foam builds up.
Meanwhile, mix dough ingredients in a large bowl. Once starter is ready, add it to bowl and mix with a wooden spoon until the dough forms. If you are blessed enough to own a mixer with a dough hook, run it at medium low for about 5 minutes once all ingredients are in the bowl.

Lightly flour the mixing surface and knead the dough for about 7-10 minutes, regardless of the original mixing method. Coat the inside of the bowl with a little olive oil. Take the kneaded dough, add a light coat of olive oil to it, and place in the bowl. Cover with a towel and let rise till doubled, about two hours.

Fresh ball of dough.
Two hours later... 

Punch the dough down, knead for a few more minutes, then put in a resealable freezer bag and store in your refrigerator. The cold gives a slow rise to the yeast. giving it that characteristic texture and flavor that makes our pizzas so great.

Recommended cold proof: 24- 72 hours.  The longer, the better. Bring it to room temperature and create your own favorite pizza!
Fresh out of our own oven - one of two loaded pizzas... tasted just like home.

(Note: while it is not recommended to use a rolling pin to get your dough to the desired shape, if you must, it's a good idea to use one made of marble. Gives and even roll.)