Friday, May 31, 2013

Store Bought Mixes

If I could make spectacular fried chicken from a prepared mix, I would jump at the chance. My experience has been that the packaged mixes have way too much salt.

But this week, my friend Jenny Wang (of Houston Chowhounds fame), dropped off two brands that she had discovered at a local dollar store:

Zatarain's Chik-Fry
Larry the Cable Guy Spicy Chicken Batter

The Zatarain's is corn flour based and the result was a very thin fried fish kind of crust. It made me want to eat it with ketchup (which I did). The instructions called for a thin wet batter of 1/3 cup of the mix and 1/2 cup water, dipping the chicken in the wet and then coating it with dry mix. Alternatively (not tried) a bath of milk, egg and the mix and then dipping in the dry mix.

I did two batches. The first was just a simple dip, dredge and fry. The second batch, was a dip, dredge, re-dip and re-dredge. The second batch had a crunchier crust.

Larry the Cable Guy Spicy Chicken Batter is wheat flour based and has dried peppers, vinegar, garlic powder, salt (of course) and black pepper. They're going for a KFC type flavor. I knew it would fall into the classic crunchy ice water based style (see Louise, Texas Volunteer Firemen's blogpost). I did two batches of this product also. As with the first test, the second batch was crunchier. It wasn't as spicy as I thought it would be. Could have been sitting on that dollar store shelf for quite some time I guess.

Now, the company that manufactures this one does indeed market to the dollar store type businesses:
Bektrom Products

As you can guess, I would have really liked to have been able to hate these. But they weren't bad. Not spectacular by a long shot. And really, does one really need to buy (even at 99 cents) a box of corn flour (or wheat flour) with some seasonings thrown in?

Update: As you know by now, my criteria is: Did I like it? Would I look forward to eating it again? Would it taste good cold? After allowing to cool a bit, the Larry's batch did seem a tad too salty. The Zatarain's you could tell was corn flour based and as it cooled, there were some nice corn meal bits on the crust. The Zatarain's pieces in this photo are the lighter colored pieces. If you look closely you can see the corn meal on several of these pieces. And a little smear of ketchup underneath (my favorite, recommended, the Whole Foods 365 organic ketchup brand).

Update 2 (next morning): After being in the fridge overnight, the Zatarain's held its crunch better (as to be expected). I could taste a nice heat in the Larry's when it was cold.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Stoneham, Texas - St. Joseph's Church Community BBQ

Here's a sample of the great music we heard today.  The great Ray Price's "Please Release Me":

The Monsignor greeted everyone by asking their name and where their family had its roots.

He passed me one of his cards. On the back it said "You Can Go Straight to Heaven!"

They began building the coals from post oak the night before in this firepit.

They were smoking beef brisket and pork. The pork was especially good.

We all agreed that the pastries were spectacular. And we went back for thirds. We couldn't help ourselves. And we knew that these didn't come out of a box. Whoever made the lemon custard tart knew what he/she was doing.


Shiner Fried Chicken

A collection of photos from one of the Labor Day picnic in Shiner, Texas. Fried chicken, picnic stew and sausage.