Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Father's Day Fried Chicken & Waffles

I think we've all heard the saying, "the way to a man's heart is through his stomach." My mom has been keeping my Dad's heart and stomach full for many years, and this Father's Day was no exception. She decided to enlist my help in making something extra special for him - fried chicken and waffles!

 My mom is one of the best cooks I know, and she can usually whip up a recipe on the fly with no help from any cookbook, website or magazine (she's just that talented!; but when it came to fried chicken and waffles we decided to rely on the help of a well known southern chef, Emeril Lagasse, to guide us through this frying excursion.

Emeril's recipe called for marinating the chicken in a buttermilk, garlic and hot sauce solution overnight to ensure that the chicken is moist and flavorful before getting that bath in sizzling oil. Once the chicken has been soaked overnight, you drain the excess liquid off the chicken and coat it in all purpose flour. We decided to kick up the flavor an extra notch (bam!) by adding "Emeril's essence" to the all purpose flour. The "essence" is a mixture of spices and herbs, including cayenne pepper, paprika, thyme, oregano, onion and garlic powder, salt and pepper. We threw in some rosemary and Italian seasoning to the mix as well, and this layer of extra flavor in the crunchy coating really comes through once that chicken is fried.

 We relied on his recipe found here:  http://abcnews.go.com/GMA/recipe/emerils-fried-chicken-buttermilk-waffles-black-pepper-maple-16203096

The part we were most scared about was the actual frying technique. We had very little experience in the realm of fried foods, normally we just rely on Panko bread crumbs topping baked chicken or pork chops when we are craving something extra crispy. The key to getting an even golden brown, crunchy coating and a moist, meaty interior is in the temperature of the oil. You need to get that oil heated up to 350° F.  Any hotter would result in a burnt crust and under cooked chicken, while a lower temperature would take much longer to get a nice crust and the chicken might overcook and soak up too much oil, resulting in a greasy mess. We used a deep cast iron skillet and poured the oil until it was about 1 inch up the side of the pan, and once the thermometer read 350, we gently placed two chicken breasts in at a time. 

The first batch didn't cook for long enough so we finished them off in the oven, but once we got the hang of frying and figured out the "golden" number of minutes, we reached the perfect crunchy consistency. We made sure to adjust the temp if the oil over time if it was getting too hot or cooling off a bit. As we fried of the chicken, we cooked up the waffles in the waffle maker. It was a simple buttermilk batter that was just a tad tangy and sweet. We served up the chicken and waffles with warm maple syrup, fresh bing cherries on the side and mimosas. It was a wonderful celebratory brunch that hit all the right sweet and savory notes. Serve up this dish to your loved ones and there's no way you won't have a happy and content crowd!

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Cheddar Leek Souffle

Look at it rise!

Nothing like a souffle to inspire the return to the blog! I took a trip to the Farmer's market on this blustery spring day and was just soaking in all the lovely spring fare - leeks, asparagus, and fresh eggs! I ended up with some arugula, sweet potatoes, cara cara oranges, and some strawberries to boot. I wasn't sure what I was going to make for dinner, but I knew it would be inspired by Spring.

Coating the ramekins with butter and parmesan cheese.

I recently received the March Bon Appetit mag issue, which had a recipe for the loftiest souffle. When I hear souffle I certainly think of a lofty, airy mountain of eggy goodness. The recipe is a basic cheese souffle with gruyere and parmesan. I wanted to go with a spring theme so Id incorporated leeks and cheddar. I sauteed three small leeks in butter with salt and pepper. I subbed cheddar for gruyere. You sprinkle the bottom of the ramekins with parmesan which creates this beautiful crust.

Don't forget to wash your leeks, they are dirty!

Souffles are intimidating - and this recipe may seem a bit involved. What I have to separate the yolks from the whites and I then I have to make a bechamel? But as long as you get everything prepped and ready to go, this recipe comes together fairly easy. It does help to save this for a lazy Saturday or Sunday.

Happy chef.

Not too shabby for my first souffle. The subtle oniony flavor of the leeks works wonderfully with the cheddar and parmesan. And the cheese on the sides and top creates this wonderful brown, flavorful crust. Souffle - so rich yet so light. I served these up with lemon asparagus and a nice cab/shiraz. Hellllooo Spring. This could work well for an easter dinner or a nice brunch.

All gone.