Friday, April 26, 2013

From MMM-Yoso: A Very Interesting Fried Chicken Recipe to Try (Look How Red the Crust Is)

Here is the recipe and comments that I found at mmm-yoso, plus a link to an article on the original recipe:


I had actually started a post called "Goodbye Alice".... I had finally used up the last bottle of Park's Brand Kimchee Sauce, and made my last batch of Chicken Alice Fried Chicken. If you're wondering who Chicken Alice is, and what's the big deal about her fried chicken, you can read the Honolulu Star Bulletin article from 2005here. And if you'd like to read about how much I enjoyed Chicken Alice's Fried Chicken my original post is here. Well enough of that..... this is part of what I thought my last batch of Chicken Alice's chicken looked like:
There's a certain crispy-sticky texture that the batter has. Courtesy of this:
And over the years, whenever I had visitors who asked me what I wanted.... I'd say Park's Brand Kim Chee Sauce.... boy did I get some really interesting responses....... of all the things I'd want from home, it was a second rate Kim Chee base. Needing refrigeration, I knew it was a hassle getting this for me, so I decided to stop asking...... and so I thought I'd made my last batch.
Until, on a recent visit to Marukai Gardena, I spied this:
I couldn't believe my eyes...... after making sure that I wasn't suffering from some sort of dementia, I bought three bottles. You see, I'd been less than pleased with my last couple of batches.... I still enjoyed the chicken, but it tasted a bit dated. Personally, I think people enjoy bolder flavors nowadays, and this recipe was starting to be a bit..... well, "Chicken Alice a la King".... a recipe from another generation. Now that I had a decent stock on hand, I decided to experiment a bit. Recently. I've been updating my mochiko, and other chicken recipes replacing flour with rice flour, which creates a lighter, sweeter, a slightly more crisp batter. So my first shot was replacing the flour in the recipe with rice flour:
Based on the amount of water in the recipe, I should have known better...... the batter was too thin, and didn't adhere well to the chicken. I think I could have done some neato-Korean voodoo-Kyochon-double frying, and perhaps have gotten a better results, but I love the crunchy batter. In the end, the changes were minor. I added sugar, because I enjoy a tad more sweetness. I upped the garlic to one entire bulb. I added a teaspoon of Korean Red Chili powder for more heat, and the biggest change, to lighten up, and give me some good crispness, I added baking powder. Nothing like a bit more leavening to get things crisp and light.
Compare it to the first photo, and you'll notice a much more crunchy batter. One real seriousRevisedAlice07 item...... adding sugar means that these babies will burn if not tended right. I did end up double frying. The Missus, who is suffering from PPTSS (Post Poultry Tramatic Stress Syndrome, as detailed in this post), ended up taking most of the chicken to work. And I heard it went over well. 
Chicken Alice Fried Chicken revised5 pounds chicken wings
Vegetable oil for deep frying 
1/2 cup Parks brand kim chee sauce
1 bulb garlic minced
1/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons salt
2-1/2 cups flour
2 1/2 cups water
1 tsp Baking Powder
1 tsp Korean Red Pepper powder (optional)

Combine kim chee sauce, garlic, salt, sugar, baking powder, and flour. Add water gradually, enough RevisedAlice05to make a thick batter, about the consistency of pancake batter.
Add chicken pieces to batter, mix well and marinate in refrigerator overnight.
Heat oil to 350 degrees.Deep-fry chicken pieces until chicken rises to surface and is light brown. Remove and cool for five minutes return to oil and fry until coating is deep brown, and chicken pieces float.It's important to keep the oil at this temperature in order to assure the perfect crisp coating.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Grocery Store Fried Chicken and Weird Chicken Around Town

I have recently 'dined' at the Kroger on Studemont by I-10 and the Randall's at Sage and San Felipe. I had heard some good buzz about the Randall's fried chicken and was anxious to try it out. What did I find out? Read on.

Yes, several people had told me that this particular Randalls' does terrific fried chicken. I went for lunch and two chicken breasts with 2 sides clocked in at $6.00. Their recipe is simple. They use an already prepared, seasoned flour mix (I couldn't get the brand name). The chicken is dipped in water, dipped in the flour mixture, back to the water and the flour mixture for a second time. The result is a crunchy crust. I really really wanted to like this chicken because of that crust. But the salt level was insane. It was so salty that the only way I could get through a portion of it was "for science" (i.e., this blog). I then had to know if they salted the chicken after if came out of the fryer or if this was a result of the prepared seasoning mix they were using. They don't salt. It is the mix.

Kroger's also uses a prepared, seasoned flour mix. They just dip the chicken in the flour and deep fry it. This results in a thinner crust. Their mix is less salty. All in all not terrific, but also not a bad fried chicken. And it is cheap.

Sparkle's Burger Spot at the corner of Leeland and Dowling is a treasure and very under the radar. Their hamburgers and chocolate shakes are some of the best in the city. Their fried chicken, not so great   I am afraid. They marinate the chicken pieces in creamy Italian dressing, flour it and deep fry it. Interesting idea but it doesn't really work. The waffle was good, though.

Al Aseel Middle Eastern is another treasure that is still under the radar.Their take on fried chicken uses a (I think) chickpea and flour or chickpea dry mixture, deep fried, resulting in a thin crunchy crust. Not my most favorite chicken on the planet but I LOVE this place. The half chicken order (for only $7) came with the most delicious mezze of tahini, baba ganoush, two pita breads - hot and soft, and a sweet tomato salad called Turkish salad that immediately brought back wonderful memories of the shawarma sauces at the shawarma places I ate at when I was living in Holland. And then, the chicken comes with another salad and is served on top of excellently seasoned basmati rice. You may find that you don't like the fried chicken here, but I guarantee you will love this place.

The Breakfast Klub is a place that I haven't been in years. I went by recently and, sure enough, the line was outside and around the side of the building. They have really mismanaged that space, as you place your order at the counter and then they turn it in to the kitchen. Thus, a really long line all of the time. If this were Gus's in Memphis, I might tackle that line. But from what I've heard, the chicken isn't that much better than what you would find in the Kroger deli. If I ever get in, I will update this paragraph with a real review.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Good Ol' Paula Deen, Y'all

I became more respectful of Paula Deen after I saw her do several hours of what can only be called 'stand up' at the Metro cooking show last year. Before that she was one of those Food Network personalities that I would turn off the sound to and just read the close captioning. I liked her recipes but that whole "y'all" thing got to me. But she won me over with her humor and command of the crowd.

I came across a recipe of hers that uses eggs and hot sauce. So, since I am ready to try out egg batters, this sounds perfect for my next experiments. What will it taste like? Stick around for more details.

Update: I did the chicken recipe and consider this a very good recipe if one likes the more cracker-like crunchy crust. I believe that the lack of moisture, the vinegar in the hot sauce and the eggs prevented the gluten from developing as much as would be the case with a milk or water soak. This was my first use of a self-rising flour, too. The crust stayed crispy long after the chicken came out of the fryer, again because the gluten hadn't developed. Flavor-wise, even with a cup of hot sauce mixed into the eggs, it wasn't that spicy. I cut large chicken breasts into thirds and found that, when the crust was the right color and crunch, the interior hadn't cooked thoroughly. So, I sliced into the pieces with a knife, cutting through to the center to open the chicken up, and returned them to the fryer. I followed the recipe and did not flour, dip and re-flour. I did an experiment with half with the dutch oven covered, in order to test out the pressure cooker theory. But I couldn't detect any significant difference.

Pressure cooking. KFC and Pollo Campero both use a pressure frying method. I always assumed that this meant they were sealing the chicken in a pressure cooker. But recently I've read up on using a heavy, cast iron dutch oven, the lid of which holds in the steam and allows pressure to build up.

Impressed by the crunch but prefer the classic buttermilk, AP flour batter still.

Southern Fried Chicken

Southern Fried Chicken
From Paula's Home Cooking/Paula's Party Episode: Decades/Savannah Country cookbook/Mar/Apr 2007 issue
5 stars based on 229 Reviews
Servings: 6-8 servings
Prep Time: 10 min
Cook Time: 14 min
Difficulty: Easy


Paula Deen’s House Seasoning
2 1/2 lb chicken, cut into pieces
2 cup self-rising flour
1 cup hot red pepper sauce
3   eggs


Heat the oil to 350 degrees F in a deep pot. Do not fill the pot more than 1/2 full with oil.
In a medium size bowl, beat the eggs. Add enough hot sauce so the egg mixture is bright orange (about 1 cup). Season the chicken with the House Seasoning. Dip the seasoned chicken in the egg, and then coat well in the flour. Place the chicken in the preheated oil and fry the chicken in the oil until brown and crisp. Dark meat takes longer than white meat. Approximate cooking time is 13 to 14 minutes for dark meat and 8 to 10 minutes for white meat.
Recipe Courtesy of Paula Deen

Friday, April 19, 2013

Brining Method from Louisiana Chef Extraordinaire, John Folse

Brining is a pretreatment in which the chicken is placed in a salt water solution known as brine. This produces a moist and well-seasoned bird. Normally, meat loses about 30 percent of its weight during cooking, but if you brine it first, you can reduce the moisture loss by as little as 15 percent. Additionally, brining enhances juiciness. The muscle fibers absorb the flavored liquid during the brining period. Some of this liquid will get lost during cooking, but since the meat is in a sense more juicy at the start of cooking, it ends up much juicier and flavorful. I recommend brining in two plastic trash bags, one inside the other, to hold the chicken and brine. I then place the bags in a large metal or ceramic bowl. Once the brine is added, I seal the bag with a wire tie and place in the bottom of a refrigerator, shaking the bag every couple hours. You may also place the bird in a small ice chest, breast down, covering with the brine. If using the ice chest method, chill the brine to approximately 40°F, and then add 5–6 ice packs to maintain temperature overnight. A smaller bird works best when brining.
Ingredients for Brine:
1 chicken fryer
1 gallon cold water
½ cup kosher salt
OR 1 cup table salt
¼ cup brown sugar
2 bay leaves, crushed
½ tbsp dried thyme
½ tbsp dried basil
½ tbsp dried sage
1 tbsp granulated garlic
1 tbsp black pepper
Begin brining 1 day prior to cooking. Use a fresh chicken or other bird, completely thawed. NOTE: Check label to ensure that bird has not been pre-injected with salt or other flavorings, otherwise it will be overseasoned. Wash bird completely. In a large stockpot, dissolve salt in 1 gallon cold water. Add brown sugar, and stir until completely dissolved. Add bay leaves, thyme, basil, sage, granulated garlic and pepper. Place 2 trash bags inside of a large metal bowl, and place chicken breast down in bags. Add brine mixture, tie bags with wire ties, and place in bottom of refrigerator. Chill 12–14 hours. NOTE: If desired, cut chill time in half by doubling all ingredients except water. Remove chicken from brine, rinse well inside and out under cold running water. Completely dry using paper towels.
Ingredients for Chicken:
vegetable oil for frying
salt and black pepper to taste
1 cup flour
Cut chicken into 8 serving pieces. Heat vegetable oil in a homestyle deep fryer such as a FryDaddy®. Season chicken and flour separately with salt and pepper. In a gallon-size plastic zipper bag, place seasoned flour and 2 pieces of chicken. Seal bag and shake to coat each piece of chicken completely. Remove chicken, and repeat process with remaining pieces. Fry chicken, a few pieces at a time, until golden brown. Drain chicken on a paper towel-lined plate over a large bowl of hot water.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

History of Fried Chicken Link and Copy/Paste

Here is a link and copy/paste for a very good article on the history of Fried Chicken.

I Am Welcoming You to Kik Culinary Corner and History of Some

History of Fried Chicken

Written on August 19th, 2008

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

The Dry Method - Pollo Campero's Thin and Crispy Crust

Pollo Campero facilities receive their dry mix from a centralized facility. The chicken (from Tyson) may be pre-marinaded or pre-brined for a fixed amount of time and then fed into a rotating drum at the same time that the dry mix is fed in. The rotating mechanism thoroughly coats the chicken pieces. These are then fried under pressure. This results in a thin, but very crispy crust and is really delicious. My guess is that wheat flour, rice flour, corn flour and some other type are blended into a final dry mix that results in the distinctive Pollo Campero crust.

A few years ago, when Pollo Campero first came to Houston, I found that I couldn't eat their chicken because it was painfully salty. With the introduction of their newer Latin Fusions locations, I've noticed that the chicken is not as salty. It is one of my favorite places to eat. Especially the Washington Avenue location when Daniel is on shift for managing. With a side of quinoa / black bean salad and a second side of cucumber / tomato salad, I am a happy diner.

Update July 10, 2013 to the above: I had come across a sample of the dry mix that they use. A pinch of the mix on the tongue and I experienced garlic powder, salt, cumin, msg, cayenne. Also it dissolved really quickly and that made me wonder: potato flour? You see, I did a dissolve on the tongue test with rice flour, Wondra, AP flour, tapioca, potato flour and corn flour. The potato flour came closest. But, when I did some further experimentation with different dry mix coatings and deep frying,  I couldn't get close to the thin and crispy crust. But, I was using boneless and skinless chicken breasts and it may be that for this to work you really have to have the chicken skin.

My notes:
"I made some fried chicken experiments last night using potato flour, then Wondra, then flour and corn starch. The flour and corn starch was the most dry and meh of this batch of experiments. Pure tapioca starch resulted in a very light color crust. If had a certain crackle to it but wasn’t pleasant. I tried some slurries with buttermilk and with ice water. Abby liked the slurry the best. It was the darkest of the batch. I decided that for Pollo Campero to work, you really need to have the skin. The closest in texture was the potato flour with lots of cayenne, black pepper and garlic powder. And I made a note to go for a wheat flour and potato flour blend as one potential solution."