February 05, 2006

arise, chicken!

My coworker's mom quit her job a few weeks ago and started cleaning out the closets, and so he ended up with a fabulous old deepfryer.

Which of course got the two of us thinking... about just what exactly we could fry. And then it spiraled out of control, and we ended up with two deep fryers and a fridge full of beer and a house full of very happy people.

We started with pickles, little tiny dill ones and bread & butter slices, dipped into spiced up egg wash and flour a few times and fried. MMMM, crunchy! Then we made some hushpuppies (from the recipe off the bag of cornmeal) -- next time I might put a little sugar into the batter, so they taste more like the amazing ones I had down in North Carolina. (Update a few days later: I just tried this for dinner, and a couple tablespoons of sugar does make a great improvement.)

Deepfrying is a lot easier than I thought. Though some of that certainly is due to the plug-and-go nature of an electric deepfryer. And on that note, the old-skool fryer is way better than the the newer model we also had going, because it has a temperature gauge... a remarkably accurate one, and quick to respond, too. Got to keep my eye peeled for a good old fryer in the thrift stores.

Then my coworker G got rolling on his special recipe for "best chicken fingers ever," involving flour, egg, and breadcrumbs flavored within an inch of their lives with oregano and garlic powder and chili powder and who knows what else. We did a little tempura broccoli & zucchini while chicken was coming together in the kitchen. Nummy. The chicken came out AWESOME. Crunchy, spicy coating around super moist chicken -- because the deep fry cooked them so quickly, they were done in about a minute, and stayed moist & yummy. I could get used to this.

Seriously. The whole point of deep frying is the crunchy, and the whole key is getting the goods to your mouth fast enough to enjoy the full extent of the Golden Crunchy Goodness. And you can only do that if you're doing the frying yourself. We're going to have to do this again sometime.

Then N got going on the onion rings. He improvised a little batter recipe out of a cup of flour, a cup of beer, and some spicy indonesian sambal. Yum, yum. Another recipe we need to use again sometime. I shaved a potato down with a vegetable peeler, and made chips -- i think the oil was a little too hot, because they got awfully brown awfully fast, but still, not too bad.

And because too much is never enough, I had some chicken drumsticks marinating in buttermilk, which I then rubbed with old bay seasoning and hungarian paprika, dredged in flour, and deep fried. We had to lower the temperature a lot, because the first batch nearly burned but was quite raw inside, and even then we didn't get them quite cooked enough, though they were still delicious. N was cooking them, and kept crooning over them "Arise, chicken!' as he pulled the basket out full of golden crunchy chicky-chick. Awesome. Old Bay is what they use on the chicken down in Baltimore, and I've been dying to try doing it myself, and it's all I'd hoped it would be. I do think that pan frying helps moderate the temperature even more, so that the innards get cooked by the time the crust is done. Gonna do that again soon too. :-)

There were some string cheese sticks that got battered and fried somewhere in there too. By this time I'd relinquished the fryers to my guests, who got well into the spirit of things while I made a closer acquaintance with the 2005 Unibroue getting busted out in the kitchen. Then we did some catfish chunks in the same breading G used on the chicken fingers. Mmmmmm....

Then it was time for dessert. Bananas turned out to be the theme: HH brought a thai banana-in-coconut-batter recipe, and N wrapped bananas in biscuit dough, fried 'em and served 'em with a sauce made from blackberry Manischewitz wine, fancy bourbon-barrel-aged maple syrup, molasses & vanilla. Both yummy, and somehow we managed to find room for them after all the savories (and the belgian beers, mmmm). I tried to deep fry a reese's peanut butter cup, but it melted and leached out of the batter -- the batter showed the pleats of the cup's shape, but it was empty except for a little sad puddle of sugary brown goop. Then JG got going on the most anticipated treat of the night, the deep fried twinkie. You freeze them, then make a very thick batter, then skewer them, dip them, and let 'em swim in the oil. They puff up right away, which is hilarious. And they really are good -- crunchy coating around a meltier, less-fake-tasting cake and gooey center. Buttery and rich. Damn, they're good.

Posted by foodnerd at February 5, 2006 04:23 PM

Damn, FN. I'm sorry I missed that one--sounds like my kinda party. I like to fry, but it's such a pain on the stove that I rarely do it. Probably for the best, considering cholesterol, tri-glycerides and all that.

A thought: I'd like to try deep frying pate-a-choux. Have you ever tried that? I'm thinking just fill with a little pastry cream ... mmmm.


Posted by: Chris at February 5, 2006 08:14 PM

damn. when you're looking for that old deep-fryer in the thrift shops, you might as well shop around for a good cardiologist, too.

biscuit dough folded around a reese's peanut butter cup then dredged in some cinnamon sugar is pretty awesome though.

Posted by: santos. at February 6, 2006 11:51 AM

sounds like my kind of party. I may have to have one myself (had meatapalooza for new years, 10 kinds of meat mostly from paulina). for a real treat, hit one of the downtonw farmers markets (tuesday adams and clark, thursday in daley plaza) and pick up some wisconsin cheese curds. oh. my. god...

Posted by: shawn at July 12, 2006 04:39 PM

chicken arise... arise chicken

Posted by: chicken at October 26, 2007 07:29 AM
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