Author and founder of two of the country’s hottest food festivals Lee Schrager talks fried chicken with Fox News Radio’s Lilian Huang Woo. His latest book Fried & True tells you where to find the best, how they make it and gives scores of recipes for turning out moist, juicy, fried bird in your own kitchen.
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Reprinted from Fried & True by Lee Schrager with Adeena Sussman. Copyright (c) 2014 by Lee Schrager. Published by Clarkson Potter/Publishers, a division of Random House, LLC
Michy’s Fried Chicken and Watermelon Salad
For the Brine
1 whole chicken, cut into 8 pieces
¼ cup sugar
¼ cup kosher salt
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
1 dried bay leaf
1 teaspoon celery seeds
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
For Dredging and Frying
Safflower, peanut, or grapeseed oil, for frying
2 cups buttermilk
3 tablespoons hot sauce, preferably Cholula brand
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons Old Bay seasoning
1½ tablespoons kosher salt
1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon paprika
Honey, for serving
Brine the chicken: Place the chicken in a large nonreactive container or dish. In another bowl, stir 8 cups water with the sugar, salt, peppercorns, bay leaf, celery seeds, and fennel seeds.
Pour the brine over the chicken, cover, and refrigerate for 24 hours. Drain the brine from the chicken and rinse and dry the meat completely with paper towels.
Dredge the chicken: Fill a large (12-inch) skillet just under halfway with the oil and heat to 275°F. Set a wire rack on top of a rimmed baking sheet and set aside. In a baking dish or bowl, combine the buttermilk and hot sauce. In another dish, combine the flour, Old Bay, salt, cayenne pepper, and paprika. Dredge the chicken pieces in the flour mixture, shaking off the excess, then dip into the buttermilk mixture, then back into the flour mixture, shaking the dish to coat the chicken evenly.
Fry the chicken: Working 4 pieces at a time, fry the chicken in batches until golden and fully cooked through, 8 to 9 minutes per side. Remove the chicken from the oil and drain on the rack; cool for 10 minutes. Heat the oil back up to 350°F. Refry the chicken in batches until it darkens and crisps, an additional 5 minutes. Remove from the oil and drain the chicken on the wire rack. Drizzle with honey.
Watermelon Greek Salad
1 1¾-pound wedge of watermelon, rind removed and cut into medium dice (about 4 cups)
2 large beefsteak tomatoes (1¼ pounds), seeded and cut into small dice (about 2 cups)
1 large English hothouse cucumber (¾ pound), peeled and cut into small dice (about 2 cups)
1 cup crumbled feta cheese
2 tablespoons torn dill, uncut
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
Pinch of garlic powder
Pinch of onion powder
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
In a large bowl, combine the watermelon, tomatoes, cucumber, feta, and dill. In a small bowl, whisk together the oil, vinegar, garlic powder, and onion powder; season with salt and pepper to taste. Drizzle half the vinaigrette over the salad and toss very gently. Add the remaining dressing to taste and gently toss again.
Mark Romano Highland Kitchen’s Fried (Chicken) And Frozen (Cocktail)
With a two-day brining process and a super-crunchy coating coaxed into crispness in part by the addition of Maseca—a finely milled variation on masa harina found at Mexican markets—it’s no wonder Chef Mark Romano preps for a large crowd at Boston’s Highland Kitchen. Like many of his nightly specials, this one is served with a cocktail, in this case a frozen mango concoction that delivers an extra kick courtesy of Scotch bonnet peppers.
Chicken Serves 4; Cocktail Serves 1
For the Brine
½ cup kosher salt
1 whole chicken, cut into 10 pieces
4 cups buttermilk
For the Dredge
4 cups all-purpose flour
1 ¾ cups cornstarch
1 cup Maseca (instant Mexican corn flour) or masa harina
2 tablespoons kosher salt
1 tablespoon paprika
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon ground coriander
1 tablespoon celery salt
1 ½ teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
Vegetable oil, for frying
BRINE THE CHICKEN: In a large bowl, whisk the salt with 8 cups cold water. Add the chicken, cover, and refrigerate overnight or up to 24 hours. Drain and discard the brine, pour the buttermilk over the chicken, cover, and refrigerate overnight or up to 24 hours.
MAKE THE DREDGE: In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, cornstarch, Maseca, salt, paprika, onion powder, garlic powder, coriander, celery salt, and pepper.
FRY THE CHICKEN: Fill a large pot halfway with oil and heat to 350°F. Set a wire rack on top of a rimmed baking sheet and set aside. Remove the chicken from the buttermilk (don’t rinse it!) and dredge the chicken in the flour mixture. Working in batches, fry the chicken until the internal temperature of the white pieces reaches 160°F, and the dark pieces reach 165°F, on a deep-fry thermometer (13 to 14 minutes for breasts and 16 to 17 minutes for thighs). Rest the chicken on the rack while you make the cocktail. Serve the chicken with the cocktail and your favorite biscuits.
Kung Pao Chicken Wings
For the Szechuan Oil
1½ tablespoons annatto seeds
1 piece star anise
2 tablespoons Szechuan peppercorns
1 cup canola oil
For the Kung Pao Sauce
1 13-ounce jar toban djan (fermented chili bean sauce)
1 cup bottled oyster sauce
2/3 cup Shaoxing wine
2/3 cup rice vinegar
2/3 cup sweet chili sauce
3 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
For the Chicken
3 cups rice flour
Canola oil, for frying
4 pounds chicken wings
Chopped peanuts, chopped cilantro, and sliced scallion greens, for garnish
Make the Szechuan oil: Combine the annatto seeds, star anise, Szechuan peppercorns, and canola oil in a small saucepan. Gently bring the oil to a simmer, turn off the heat, and let the spices steep for 30 minutes. Strain the oil through a fine-mesh sieve into a small bowl, discarding any solids.
Make the kung pao sauce: In a medium bowl, whisk together the toban djan, oyster sauce, wine, vinegar, chili sauce, sesame oil, and the Szechuan oil. Reserve.
Fry the chicken: In a large bowl, whisk together the rice flour and 2½ cups water to form a batter with the consistency of crepe batter, adding additional water by the tablespoonful if necessary. Fill a large pot halfway with oil and heat to 275°F. Working in batches, dredge the wings in the rice batter, shaking off the excess, and fry until lightly golden, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a rack and cool for 15 minutes.
Raise the oil temperature to 325°F and fry the wings in batches until golden brown and cooked through, an additional 6 to 7 minutes. Drain the wings of any excess oil, then transfer to a large bowl and toss in the kung pao sauce. Garnish with peanuts, cilantro, and scallions.