December 31, 2018

Gus's Fried Chicken Recipe - The Best Duplication So Far of the Gus's Recipe

I came as close as I have gotten to duplicating the Gus's Fried Chicken recipe. Here follows the latest, updated recipe:

Gus’s Fried Chicken
#1 2018
 24 hour marinade. Begin the day before you plan to fry the chicken
(Increase these quantities, depending on how much chicken you plan to make)
1 lb (one) boneless skinless chicken breast cut into three pieces (or, your standard bone-in chicken pieces like Gus’s does. I went with boneless chicken breasts for this recipe because they are a challenge and I thought this would be a good recipe starting point)
1 cup corn starch
¼ cup (4 tablespoons) all purpose flour
1 tablespoon ground black pepper
1 tablespoon sweet paprika
1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
1 cup water (note: 1 ½ cups is too much. I actually ended up with 1 ¼ cup water and poured off a little water in the morning that had gathered on top of the marinade)

Marinade for 24 hours.

Fry at 325-350 F. Use a neutral vegetable or corn oil. I do not recommend canola oil as it smells like frying fish and adds an unpleasant fish taste to fried foods.

Note, when the exterior crust looks perfect, the interior may still be uncooked. It is the curse of these huge chickens that they sell now. Try your best to buy a 2.5-3 lb chicken.

If it isn't spicy enough, "salt" with Tony Chachere creole seasoning. Next time you make it, increase the amount of cayenne, and/or, add chopped whole serrano chiles or habanero chiles to the marinade.

The long marinade has the effect of making the chicken very moist; even the chicken breasts. Though, as we all know from Kenji Lopez-Alt's articles for Serious Eats, "brining" or long marinades will change the texture of the chicken meat, making it more homogeneous (what Mike Logan, a friend of mine, calls "hammy" in reference to the texture of smoked hams).

I still finish the chicken in the oven to assure that it is cooked throughout.

Temptation may be to make a thicker batter. But I think that for the crispiest crust, a thinner batter is the way to go. Just enough so that it clings.

I used to remove my chicken pieces from the marinade batter with tongs. But I found that this scraped away some of the batter. Now, I just spear the pieces with a fork and drop them into the hot oil.

You can test the quality of your batter by pouring some into the hot oil and frying it up crisp. Taste it and adjust seasonings. If it is too spongy tasting instead of crisp tasting, it may have been too thick and will need to be thinned slightly. 

If you've ever had really good Korean fried chicken, that is similar to the Gus's recipe.

A local Korean chicken place (Toreore) uses this brand of extra crispy batter mix for theirs. You may wish to find it online and buy some to try: Shirakiku brand Extra Crispy Tempura Batter Mix.

Here follow my previous comments and riffs as I continued to work on a Gus's Fried Chicken recipe.

(Special Note to My Readers: Also, be sure to check out my other Gus's Fried Chicken postings as these have additional information on spices for this recipe) (Update August 2017: Be sure to see my more recent posts on the recipe and photos from my August 2017 visit)

Today, I came as close as I have gotten to figuring out the Gus's Fried Chicken recipe.

I started this blog back in March of 2013.

It is not the Saveur Magazine recipe and it is not the Nora Jones recipe (the two most common recipes that show up when one does a search on the Internet).

The secret is that it is a slurry. You may want to think of it as a batter, but I think slurry is almost a better description since the cornstarch doesn't really fully blend in with the buttermilk (you need to keep stirring as it does separate out if left sitting). You have to mix corn starch and buttermilk to the right consistency, and then add just the right amount of paprika, cayenne, garlic powder, salt, etc. followed by just enough Louisiana hot sauce to make it work. Too much hot sauce will affect the crispness. It needs to be a slightly thicker batter ( I would describe it as crepe batter consistency, or, a slightly thinner pancake batter). (Although: I also want to try a straight hot sauce and cornstarch experiment, an icewater and cornstarch experiment, and also a whole milk and cornstarch experiment in the future).

I switched to Canola oil for a while ("Canadian oil low acid"), ignoring my personal opinion that Canola oil gives food a fishy smell and taste. But I am back to recommending Crisco oil or peanut oil as my personal preferences. I just don't like Canola oil.
So, here is what needs to come together for this to work.

The important thing is:
Buttermilk - 1 1/4 cups buttermilk to....
Cornstarch - 1 cup corn starch to make the basic slurry
(experiment with reducing the amount of buttermilk to corn starch to make a thicker slurry)
(note: I've tried a water and corn starch slurry but wasn't pleased with the results. I haven't tried a water and egg with corn starch slurry though…the egg would add viscosity)

Update August 2017: It appears that a critical component is a 24 hour soaking in the slurry.

And then you will want to season to taste (I have specifically not given guidelines here as I want you to do your own homework; use your best judgement. Everyone's taste buds are different)

Paprika (this will help darken the chicken, giving it some color; I will usually do 1/4 tsp)
Cayenne (this will add heat; I will usually do a 1/2 tsp)
Black pepper (this will add heat; I will usually do a 1/2 tsp)
White pepper (this will add heat; I will usually do a 1/2 tsp)
Garlic powder (personally I just use a pinch because, for me, garlic powder adds an aftertaste to the chicken; but that is just a personal bias)
Salt (go easy on the salt; you can always add salt at the table)
Louisiana hot sauce (start off with 8 dashes per above buttermilk/cornstarch slurry)
MSG (most commercial chicken has some MSG in it; start off with 1/4 tsp and adjust to your preference with the next batch that you make)

St. John Picnic - July 4th 2019 (Just outside of Schulenburg)

Recipes - A Collection of Recipes of Interest From Around the Internet

Fried Chicken Middle Eastern Style
Middle Eastern Soices Style Fried Chicken Recipe

Jonathon Waxman : Cornmeal, Egg and Buttermilk
Jonathon Waxman Recipe

Gordon Ramsey Pickle Celery Recipe and Buttermilk Batter Fried Chicken Recipe:
Gordon Ramsey Pickled Celery and Buttermilk Batter Fried Chicken

Fried Chicken Recipe from the 18th Century: A vinegar (verjus) and lemon marinade (tart):
Fried Chicken in the 18th Century

Koji Fried Chicken Recipe from Cook's Science:
Koji Fried Chicken (from Cook's Science)

From Ashton Vaughn (from a Diane Unger recipe): Special Note. I tried this. I was intrigued by the fact that Unger mentions that batter fried recipes were common during the era of The Civil War. I found this crust to be chewy and gummy. It held a lot of oil. I did not enjoy it. Not recommended.

Batter Fried Chicken Recipe (Originally Cook's Country)

From Chef Jerod (lots and lots of spices in the marinade)

Chef Jerod

Cooking and Conversation

Buttermilk Fried Chicken - Cooking and Conversation

Gordon Ramsey - Another Time

Gordon Ramsey - Part Two

Gus's Fried Chicken - Memphis - August 2017

My most recent visit led me to the conclusion that Gus's recipe is not unlike a classic Korean fried chicken recipe, a corn starch slurry (maybe a touch of flour) and a liquid base of either water, water and milk, or buttermillk, seasoned with black pepper, Louisiana style hot sauce, possibly onion powder and garlic powder, and salt. Better results if your chicken is skinless.  And a long marinade of 24 hours so that the spices can infuse the chicken as well as the batter. On November 17, 2017 I came as close as one can get to the recipe. Refer to my other blogposts for the November 2017 recipe.

Kolaches - Where To Find Them

Kolache, Kolaches, Kolatch, Kolatche, Kolaç.  The Czech immigrants to Texas at the end of the 19th century brought their cuisine here and introduced the kolaç, giving it its own Texas style. The kolaç is a sweet pastry, never savory (that was to evolve later as klobasnicki or "pigs in blankets" as they were known when I was growing up became lumped in as kolaches here in Texas). And the classic soft bread kolaç, made with butter, milk, sugar, flour and yeast gave way to this god awful doughy doughnut thing in the Asian run doughnut shops in Texas.

And so, here is a short list of place where one can get the real deal. I have sampled them at all of these places and can give my native Texan seal of approval to them.

Little Gretel Restaurant
518 River Road

Weikel's Bakery
2155 Highway 290

East Bernard
Vincek's Smokehouse
139 S Dill Street

Hruska's Bakery
Highway 71 (can't miss it...Ellinger isn't that big)

Hilje (El Campo)
Prasek's Hilje Smokehoust
29714 Highway 59

Original Kolache Shoppe
5404 Telephone Road

La Grange
Weikel's Bakery
2247 West Highway 71

La Grange
Lukas Bakery
135 North Main Street

Old Main Street Bakery
808 3rd Street

Original Kountry Bakery
110 Kessler Avenue

Prasek's Sealy Smokehouse
2949 I-10 Frontage Road

West, Texas
Czech Stop
104 S George Kacir Street

West, Texas
Gerik's Old Czech Bakery
511 W Oak Street

West, Texas
Village Bakery
113 E Oak Street

West, Texas
Slovacek's Bakery
214 Melodie Drive

Various Locations - Buc-Ee's

Lisa Fain Article on Kolaches with Recipe

East Bernard Kolache Festival - 2nd Saturday in June Every Year (Recommended)

Atlas Obscura Article on Kolaches

Saveur Article on Kolaches

Houston Chronicle Article with Victoria Rittinger Family Recipe

Texas Monthly Article on Kolaches with Recipe

Caldwell, Texas Kolache Festival Every Year in September