Mmmmm fried things! Have you ever wanted to eat delicious chicken tenders at a restaurant, but they were never quite up to snuff? With a crispy crackling outside, and tender juicy middle, the fried chicken we made tonight was incredible. So incredible, we decided to blog about it after a very long absence! From the most awesome cookbook ever, The Best of America’s Test Kitchen 2011 (seriously, we’ve loved everything we’ve ever made from it), the secret to this recipe is brining the chicken beforehand to keep them nice and juicy.
Cornstarch is a magical ingredient!
We supplemented the fried goodness with corn muffins from a mix from Dad DePuy, a salad, cold beer, and the Patriots/ravens game. Life is good 🙂
Dissolve salt and sugar in the cold water in a large bowl. Submerge the chicken in the brine and refrigerate, covered, for 30 minutes. Next, whisk together the remaining dry ingredients (flour, cornstarch baking powder and spices) then mix in the cold water. The batter will be a light brown-red with black pepper speckles.
Heat oil in a large pot (be sure to have a splatter screen!) to 325-350 degrees. Remove the chicken from the brine and pat it dry with paper towels to catch the excess water. Put about half the chicken in the batter and mix them around to make sure they’re nice and covered. Using tongs to grab the chicken pieces one at a time, let some of the batter drip off before placing gently in the hot oil. Don’t crowd the pot and try to keep the oil between 300 and 350 degrees. Let them cook about 10-12 minutes until they are a light golden color (the oil makes them look lighter than they actually are). Remove and place on a wire rack to cool and the oil to drip off. Let the oil heat back up to 350 or so before repeating with the remaining chicken. Don’t put too many chicken pieces in at the same time or the oil will cool off too much and not cook properly!
- 3 quarts vegetable oil
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup salt
- 1 quart cold water
- 1 cup flour
- 1 cup cornstarch
- 5 teaspoons ground black pepper
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1 3/4 cups cold water
Moving to California (5 years ago! holy cow!) taught me many things, one of which was definitely how to appreciate real Carne Asada. I’ll never be on par with the local taco shops (best in the world), but I won’t settle for the imitation stuff put forth by two-bit-taco impostors. One morning I couldn’t sleep after the sun was shining, so I got up and started cooking. Fortunately, I had started the marinade the night before thinking I’d cook it for lunch but it was too tempting to pass up for a nice breakfast. ESC was surprised when she groggily said “g’morngnhgwhatreyoucookin?” and I replied “Carne Asada Breakfast Burritos!” full of pep and excitement. She perked right up when I handed her a mug full of some delicious Tiger Spiced Chai by David Rio. Shortly thereafter we were gobbling down this morning kickstart, wondering what to do for the day!
Marinading the steak is actually really simple. Just combine all marinade ingredients into a bowl and mix well. Place the steaks in a gallon ziplock baggy and pour the marinade over and zip it up. Squish around the marinade into the steaks to make sure they get covered well, then lay flat in the fridge for anywhere between 1 and 8 hours (it’s ok to do overnight too), flipping halfway through to give the marinade a shot at both sides. If you’ve got a grill, preheat to medium to medium-high and toss the steaks on. I however, don’t have a grill so I patted the steaks with a paper towel to remove some of the excess oil and placed it into a pre-heated skillet over medium heat. Sear for two minutes on the first side, then flip to let it cook all the way through ~5 minutes depending on thickness. Remove from heat and let it stand for a few minutes before slicing and dicing into thin bitesized chunks. While the steak is cooking, cook the scrambled eggs and sautee the peppers & onions.
Once everything is finished, simply add the desired amount of Carne (lots), Guac (lots), peppers & onions (some), eggs (some) and cheese (some) to a warmed tortilla. If you’re feeling especially fibrous, add a spoonful of black beans and a pinch of cilantro. Yum!
Carne Asada Marinade
4 Garlic Cloves, minced
1 tsp Cumin Powder
1/4 tsp Cayenne Pepper
1 pinch Crushed Red Pepper
2 limes, juiced
1/4 cup Cilantro, chopped
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp ground pepper
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp white vinegar
2 Large Flour Tortillas
3 Eggs, scrambled
1 Lump Shredded Cheese
1 Pouch Guacamole (or fresh made)
1 Green Pepper, diced
1/4 Yellow onion, diced
Marinade makes enough to marinate a 2 lb piece of steak. Makes 4-6 burritos, or other Carne Asada things. 4$/burrito. 15 minutes cooking, 1-8 hours marinading. Not healthy at all.
Prepare your favorite Red Sauce and add the cooked sausage and let it simmer covered for an hour or two. The longer your sauce cooks, the better it comes together and ultimately tastes. Other things you can do ahead of time are shredding the cheese and wilting some spinach. I have no idea if this is the best way to wilt spinach, but it works for me – wash your spinach and toss a bunch in a medium-low heat skillet. The volume will shrink dramatically, so as it reduces, remove the wilted ones and replace with un-wilted take care not to burn the spinach. Now that you’ve got most of the ingredients prepped, you’re ready to prepare the lasagna! Preheat oven to 375° and start a 6qt pot of water for the lasagna noodles. Mix the Riccotta & Egg together until it’s a goopy mess and add your wilted spinach and mix well. When the noodles are cooked, strain off the water and rinse noodles with cold water so they stop cooking (we don’t want overcooked noodles!). To a 13″x9″ baking dish, add a thin layer of sauce then following layers: Noodles, Ricotta Mixture, Mozzarella, Red Sauce. Repeat until you run out of room or ingredients. The top layer should be some Mozzarella. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 45 minutes. Uncover and bake for another 15 minutes or until the cheese on top is starting to brown. Let it cool down closer to room temperature (~2 hours) then pop it into the oven or freezer! Of the possible reheating options, I prefer the toaster oven method as it produces the tastiest and best consistency, but the microwave does a speedy job.
32oz Tomato Sauce
12oz Tomato Paste
12oz Crushed Tomatoes
8-10oz Water or Pasta Water
3/4 cup Brown Sugar
1/4 cup Italian Spices
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp paprika
2 tbsp salt
1 tbsp fresh ground pepper
12 oz cooked Sweet Italian Sausage, crumbled
1 cup wilted Spinach
16oz fresh shredded Mozzarella
16oz Lasagna noodles (cooked according to the box)
Makes 12 large slices. 2 hours total, can prepare elements ahead of time. With the sausage, spinach and other healthy goodies, this is a respectable meal but may be on the starchy side with the layers of noodles.
Ahoy readers who love good food! Having found a great deal on some nice ribeye steaks last week that I tossed in the freezer, the initial idea was to do a Stir Fry, but we didn’t really have enough veggies or any hoisin sauce to make it worthwhile (so be on the lookout for a Stir Fry post soon!). So instead, ESC and I decided on Steak Fajitas with Quinoa. This was a very good choice and was wonderful. My initial marinade was too oily and I didn’t wipe off enough oil before cooking, so everything was a little slimy. It’s way easier to wipe off before cooking because you can always add more spices during cooking. I’ve also changed the proportions to what I think would work better. In the ramekin is some leftover Sausage Mac & Cheese from Stone Brewery reheated in the oven.
Our friend Andy also introduced me to an Anti-Griddle the other night… this thing was crazy and has inspired us to make some crazy things. We had the dry-ice version and not the 900$ one. Perhaps there will be some experimentation with more flavorful foods this weekend if anyone wants to be our guinea pigs!
Combine all marinade ingredients and spread over a 8-12oz steak. The better cut of meat, the better the fajitas. Let it marinate for 45-60 minutes at room temperature or longer in the fridge. Wipe off some of the marinade before putting it in a hot skillet. Start the quinoa before starting the steak, it’s easier to keep warm than make it hurry up. Cook about 3 minutes to sear the first side then flip and cook another 5 minutes. Flip once more and cover to keep some of the heat in for 3 minutes. Place steak on a cutting board to cool a bit before cutting. Put Onions and Bell Peppers into the pan and cook until translucent. Wash & drain the black beans and shred cheese & lettuce. Heat some tortillas and make a wonderful homemade Steak Fajita! Top with your favorite spicy sauce if you so desire. 🙂
2 cloves Garlic, minced
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1/4 tbsp Ground Cumin
1 tsp Ground Pepper
3 dashes Smoked Chipotle Tabasco
1 tbsp lime juice
1 tbsp Cilantro diced
1/2 small Onion Chopped
2 Bell Peppers
1 12oz can black beans
1/2 cup uncooked Quinoa
Shredded Cheese & Lettuce to top
Makes ~4 large Fajitas. 1.5 hours total, 30 minutes active cooking. High in taste, fiber, protein and maybe a little fatty depending on the cut of meat.
This was the first real official indian dish I’ve actually made from scratch and it was delicious. I’m sure it was the hard to find garam masala that added the extra-awesomeness. The Indian Fare packets from Trader Joe’s are fantastic and ridiculously easy, but I wanted to try it out myself finally! This is a super simple meal to make on a weeknight with plenty of flavor. Have a side salad or toasted garlic naan or something to make it a complete meal.
Combine all ingredients in a small mixing bowl. It’ll resemble sort of an oily paste mixture with a copper coloring from the paprika and garam masala. Using your fingers, daintily rub spice paste over chicken coating as evenly as possible. Pan fry with onion ~4 minutes each side until chicken is tender and fully cooked. Use the same pan to cook the spinach so it picks up the leftover spices. Cook just long enough to get it to wilt then remove from heat. Mix the spinach and spices into the quinoa and serve the chicken on top of a nice cozy bed of quinoa.
~1lb chicken breast
1/2 onion diced
2 tsp fresh crushed black peppercorns
2 tsp paprika
~1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
2 tsp garam masala
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 clove garlic, crushed
1 1/2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp yogurt (plain or vanilla)
1/2 cup uncooked Quinoa
1 cup water/broth
1 cup blanched spinach
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
2 dashes chili powder or cayenne pepper
Makes 2 dishes, easy to scale up for more. 30 minutes from start to finish. ~$1/plate, but you’ll need a bunch of spices. Very healthy, low carbs, protein power-pack. No pictures of this one either…
I was inspired by an Indian Food Truck a few weeks ago by a “Tandoori Grilled Cheese”, but this was a disaster of a sandwich. The cheese wasn’t melted yet, the tandoori didn’t have chicken, and it was on sourdough. I have no idea how this was a “Indian” dish by any means. So while eating this unfortunate lunch I decided I could do something better. And so here’s a new dish soon to be on every swanky restaurant menu: Grilled Chi’eese. Definition: Take your standard grilled cheese, add chicken and a light chutney sauce. Cook until delicious. I now present my Teriyaki Grilled Chi’eese on Sourdough with Mint Chutney.
Marinate thawed chicken breasts in teriyaki sauce for 5-10 minutes in the fridge in a plastic bag. While this is marinating, make the chutney in a food processor: combine all ingredients and pulse until the mint is well incorporated and it smells delicious. Pan fry chicken (add diced fresh ginger to pan?) in skillet, discarding excess teriyaki sauce. Once cooked, remove from pan and set aside to shred with knife & fork. Once shredded, add back to pan to keep warm. To prepare the sandwich, spoon/spread the chutney over what will be the insides of the grilled cheese. Top with cheese and add both pieces to a lightly buttered skillet (or griddle) openfaced and chutney side up so you won’t have to flip it later. When the cheese is almost melted, add a healthy amount of chicken to one of the slices and a bit more cheese and let is meld for a minute. Take the other slice and place it on top and remove from pan. Unfortunately this means you can only do a limited number of sandwiches at once, but they’re easy to keep warm and the cheese keeps melding.
There are so many slight variations on this that would also be amazing: mild cheeses, different chutneys (cilantro, basil, mint, oregano, even fruit!), chicken marinades. Go experiment!
8oz Mozzarella, thinly sliced or shredded
Mint Chutney (see below)
2 Teriyaki Chicken breasts, shredded (see below)
Teriyaki Sauce — Makes ~ 3/4 cup sauce
1/3 cup worsteshire sauce
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 tbsp real maple syrup
1 tbsp honey
4 tbsp Plain Yogurt
4 tbsp chopped fresh mint (about 6 good stalks of mint)
1 tbsp lemon juice
Makes 6 Chi’eese Sandwiches. 30-45 minutes from start to finish. ~$2/sandwich. If you use a low-fat cheese, this would be a very healthy dish: low calories, protein and not a lot of fat. Yummmmm! Unfortunately no pictures this time around… Figure a post with no pictures is better than no post at all!
Pizza pizza!! Having previously experimented with everything from pizza bagels to Red Baron frozen pizzas, we decided it was time to try making our own dough = Perfect excuse for the ESC to play with her standing mixer!
Pizza dough (from Baking Illustrated)
Makes about 3 medium-ish pizzas.
1/2 cup warm water (110 degrees- it’s very important that it’s not too cold or too hot)
1 envelope instant yeast
1 1/4 cups water at room temperature
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil (I substituted an oil infused with herbs and garlic)
4 cups Bread Flour
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
oil or nonstick cooking spray for oiling the bowl
– Measure the warm water into a 2 cup liquid measuring cup. Sprinkle in the yeast and let stand until the yeast dissolves and swells, about 5 minutes. Add the room temperature water and oil and stir to combine
– Place flour and salt in the bowl of a standing mixture fitted with a paddle. Briefly combine the dry ingredients at low speed. Slowly add the liquid ingredients and continue to mix at low speed until a cohesive mass forms. Stop the mixer and replace the paddle with the dough hook. Knead until the dough is smooth and elastic (about 5 minutes) Form the dough into a ball, put in a deep oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap.
-At this point, we put the dough in the refrigerator overnight and made the pizzas the next day. Otherwise, it says to let the dough rise until double in size, 1.5 to 2 hours. Press the dough to deflate it.
– If you’ve refrigerated the dough, make sure to pull it out an hour or so before you intend to make the pizzas so it can warm up to room temperature.
– Heat the oven to 500 deg F. Divide the dough into three pieces. Form each piece of dough into a smooth, -round ball and cover with a damp cloth. Let the dough relax for 10 minutes (but not longer than 30).
– Working with one piece at a time, shape the dough into a nice circle.
– Spread some cornmeal (or semolina) on a baking sheet (or a pizza peel if you have one) and then carefully lay the dough down
– Cover with a layer of pizza sauce (Brent made a delicious red sauce- I’ll leave it to him to describe)
– Now for the fun part! Toppings! We used shredded mozzarella, sliced garlic chicken sausage from Trader Joe’s (delicious), and slices of green pepper- but you could do anything.
– Bake at 500 F for 12-15 minutes (Depends on toppings and whether you have a pizza stone or not) Pull it out when the crust is golden-brown-ish.
– Cut into slices and enjoy!
Verdict: Deliciousness! Most expensive parts of this were the sausage and the cheese, Brent estimates about the total is something like $6-7. There are many variations we intend on trying in the future: whole wheat crusts, different recipes, endless combinations of toppings.