What do you cook when you are drinking Le Drunk Rooster?

May 26, 2009

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We added a new wine last week.  Le Drunk Rooster is a French Grenache made with grapes grown on 25+year old vines.  I know the obvious recipe choice would be Coq au Vin, but that didn’t sound very “summery ” and this is the last day of my Memorial Day Weekend (what the rest of the world calls the unofficial start of summer.)

I decided on Buttermilk Fried Chicken, Cornbread and Corn on the Cob.

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I have two rules about fried chicken. The meat (not just the crust) has to be tasty, and it has to be crispy.  Here is how I go about making sure those two things happen:

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The morning of the meal I put the chicken in the fridge to marinate in Bulgarian Cultured Buttermilk to which I have added one packet of Uncle Dan’s Original Southern (now Classic Ranch) dressing mix. I turn it of few times and the thick buttermilk clings to the meat.  Yum.

When it is time to cook, I mix up the flour dredge.  A plate full of flour, a good heaping spoonful of Smoked Paprika (enough to make it a bit orange,) Salt & Pepper and our new House Seasoning (thanks, Costco!)

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Now, here’s the little secret: after mixing in all the seasoning, stir in a quarter cup or so of buttermilk.  (It can be fresh or from the chicken marinade. No need to worry about chicken cooties because this is going to get cooked REALLY well and will kill any of said cooties.)

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Take the chicken from the marinade and dip it in the flour mixture (which will be a little crumbly). Next it goes into your hot pan of Peanut Oil.  Keeping the oil at 350° is the hardest part of the whole event.  Keep checking it and adjust your burners as necessary.)

Now, people will tell you that you should cover the pan for the first half of the cooking, but every time I do that, things get too “cajun” looking, and I like a lighter, golden brown crust, so I keep it uncovered so I can keep an eye on it.

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Here’s my other little secret: I only fry it until it is pretty, then I put it on a foil lined pan and into a 350° oven (which is where I am cooking the cornbread!) to finish.  I am a stickler for proper food temperature, and I have make the mistake of serving fried chicken that looked done but was still bloody at the bone.  No more! It can hang out in the oven until it is 170º right next to the bone.  (This is where a digital probe thermometer comes in handy.  Since I bought myself a chef’s coat (thank you Costco Business Center) I keep one in my handy little arm pocket.  Yes, I am a geek.)

I have a preference on cornbread, too, as you can well imagine.  I can make it from scratch, but I like to use the Marie Calendar’s mix as a base and doll it up to meet my mood.  It comes in a nice bag and I can make as much or as little as I want.  If all I want to do is add water, it will make a fine bread.  Of course, I never do.  Today it was the aforementioned buttermilk (hey, I bought a quart, I may as well use it all!) honey and an egg.  Tangy, sweet, and a little on the cakey side.

I hope you all enjoyed your Memorial Day Weekend as much as I did.  See you back at the salon on Wednesday (FYI, that’s the day we get new wine shipments!)

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