chicken

oven-fried chicken

Mmm...greeease...

Again it’s been a while since I posted a food entry. It’s not that I haven’t been eating or cooking. It’s just I’ve been doing a lot more thinking about food and cooking rather than writing ever since I read The Flavor Bible (which I still need to blog about). Anyway, back to what makes the world go round: food.

I’m often asked what would be my last meal. Because this question is so difficult for someone that loves so many different kinds of food, my last meal would inevitably be a multiple-course meal consisting of all my favorite eats: sushi, French fries, my mama’s eggrolls, New- York-style cheese pizza, fried chicken, and a bowl of noodle soup (most likely ramen or pho). I don’t know if there’s a commonality to my favorite foods except maybe DELICIOUS! Just kidding. Maybe unhealthy? Aside from the sushi, I guess.

So yes, fried chicken is one of my favorite foods. Most things can’t go wrong when they’re dropped in a vat of oil. While I love KFC’s original recipe and Popeye’s Cajun spicy fried chicken, I thought why not try my hand at homemade fried chicken? The last time I attempted fried chicken years ago, I made the mistake of not monitoring the oil temperature and so the chicken turned out charred on the outside and still raw on the inside. This time, I followed a method from Ina Garten that involves frying the chicken to seal in the juices and then finishing it off in the oven for thorough cooking. I tried to look online for KFC’s secret original recipe but my kitchen was missing the MSG (not to mention marjoram at the time) so I had to make due with only nine out of the eleven secret herbs and spices. I only put in about half the amount of herbs and spices as I should have, and the chicken could’ve used more flavor, but trial error is inevitable. I boosted the measurements in the recipe below, so hopefully your chicken turns out even tastier. A quick tip before you fry: to keep chicken crispy, set fried pieces atop brown paper bags instead of paper towels after frying. Happy frying, and remember that if the Blind can Cook it, so can you!

 

: Oven-Fried Chicken

: Original recipe from Barefoot Contessa Family Style

 

  1. 2 (3 lbs.) chickens, each cut into 8 pcs.
  2. 1 qt. buttermilk
  3. 2 c. all-purpose flour
  4. 1 tbsp. kosher salt
  5. 1 tbsp. freshly ground black pepper
  6. 1 tsp. dried basil
  7. 1 tsp. chili powder
  8. 1 tsp. garlic powder
  9. 1 tsp. dried marjoram
  10. 1 tsp. onion salt
  11. 1 tsp. dried oregano
  12. 1 tsp. paprika
  13. 1 tsp. ground sage
  14. 2 tbsp. MSG
  15. vegetable shorening or oil for frying

 

  1. Place chicken pcs. in a baking pan and pour buttermilk over them. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
  2. Combine flour, and all 11 herbs and spices in a lg. bowl. Take each chicken piece out of the buttermilk and cover liberally with flour mixture. Pour oil or shortening in a lg. heavy-bottomed stockpot to a depth of 1″. Heat oil to 360 degrees.
  3. Working in batches, carefully place several pieces of chicken in oil and fry for 3 min. on each side or until coating is a light golden brown. (It will continue to brown in the oven.) Don’t crowd the pieces. Remove chicken from oil and place each piece on a metal baking rack set on a sheet pan. Allow oil to return to 360 degrees before frying next batch.
  4. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  5. When all the chicken is fried, bake for 30 to 40 min. until chicken is no longer pink inside. Serve hot.

Preparation time: 10 minute(s)

Cooking time: 1 hour(s)

vietnamese shaking chicken (or beef)

Ga luc lac or bo luc lac are French influenced dishes consisting of seared and sauteed bpcubes of meat served with a vinaigrette dressing. The term “luc lac” comes from the sound of the meat shaking in the pan while cooking. The dish is usually made of sirloin or ribeye steak, but I decided to go a slightly healthier route and make it with chicken. Whichever meat you choose, it’ll be tasty.

You can serve it with white rice or a French style fried rice (recipe posting TBD). This is often a favorite at Tan Tan and Sinh Sinh restaurants (reviews of these places also TBD).

The picture below is of the beef version which is on Rasa Malaysia. The one we took of our chicken version turned out too dim for the web.



Bo luc lac (Shaking beef)

Photo courtesy of Rasa Malaysia



Recipe: Vietnamese Shaking Chicken (or Beef)

Summary: Original recipe for beef from Ravenous Couple on Rasa Malaysia

Ingredients

  • 1.5 lbs. chicken thighs or beef sirloin or ribeye, cut into 1″ cubes
  • Marinade:
    • 2 tbsp. minced garlic
    • 1.5 tbsp. sugar
    • 2 tbsp. oyster sauce
    • 1 tbsp. fish sauce
    • 1 tbsp. sesame oil
    • 1 tsp. soy sauce
    Vinaigrette dressing:
    • 1/4 c. rice vinegar
    • 1.5 tbsp. sugar
    • 1/2 tbsp. salt
    Dipping sauce:
    • 1 lemon, juiced
    • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
    • 1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 tomatoes, thinly sliced (optional)
  • 1 bunch watercress, long stems trimmed (optional)

Instructions

  1. In a medium bowl, combine marinade ingredients with the meat. Refrigerate and let marinate for 30 to 90 minutes.
  2. Prepare vinaigrette by combining vinaigrette ingredients. It should be a balance of sour, salty, and sweet. Pour 3 to 4 tbsp. over the onion and let stand for at least 10 minutes.
  3. Heat a wok over high heat. Add onion and meat 1 layer at a time and sear for about 2 minutes. Then shake the wok to sear all sides of the meat, about another 1 to 2 minutes.
  4. Prepare dipping sauce by combining ingredients.
  5. Drizzle vinaigrette on top of meat and serve with tomatoes, rice, and dipping sauce.

Variations

I accidentally added cupfuls of sugar instead of tablespoonfuls. (This is what happens when you are blind and have to juggle all the measurements in your head.) We managed to throw a lot of it out and salvage the dish, but in the end, it wasn’t too sweet at all. I also used brown sugar instead of white as a healthier alternative.

The original recipe called for slightly pickled red onions but I prefer mine sauteed with the meat. I can’t get enough of that scrumptious sauce flavor so I just added the onion to the wok while cooking the meat. I also substituted green onion since that’s what was in my fridge, and I needed to get rid of it. But using actual onion is preferable.

I also cut the rice vinegar by half for the vinaigrette. This worked out much better. I would maybe try white vinegar and even less of it next time to see how that turns out.

Lastly, the original recipe called for more oil to be added to the wok for cooking but I found the sesame oil in the marinade was enough to keep the meat from sticking to the wok surface. Otherwise, it’d be a super greasy dish.

Cooking time (duration): 30 (excluding marinade time)

Meal type: dinner

Culinary tradition: Vietnamese

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Remember, if the Blind can Cook it, so can you.

“quick” & easy vietnamese chicken noodle soup

Pho ga

A comfort food staple in our home

Ahh…the most famous Vietnamese dish in conjunction with the baguette sandwich, banh mi thit. How can we talk about comfort foods and not talk about pho? Pho ga–or noodle soup with chicken–is perhaps my favorite of the pho family. I grew up eating pho on occasional Sunday mornings, and while I know it’s a cliche to say so, my mama seriously made the best pho. Seriously. The best. My parents’ friends had even urged her to open up a little pho restaurant. She was bestowed the recipe by a Vietnamese chef she once knew. Unfortunately, my mama died before I ever got the chance to learn her secrets, and my dad never found the written gem anywhere. Quite literally, she took the secret to the grave.

Years later, I discovered Quoc Viet, a handy little brand of soup base. They make a variety of soup bases, including pho bo (Hanoi beef noodle soup), bo kho (beef stew), and bun bo Hue (spicy lemongrass beef noodle soup from central Vietnam), to name a few. I have yet to be disappointed by any of the outcomes using Quoc Viet products.

Pho is definitely a comfort food: eaten on cold days or after a late night of partying, it hits just the right spot. Vietnamese people often eat it for lunch, brunch, or even breakfast. (I’ve seen Pho Danh, which I believe has the best pho in Houston and which I will review next time I go, crowded with diners at 9 AM.)

So what makes a good pho? It’s mainly in the broth. It can’t be too oily, it has to be flavorful with the right flavors. You’d be surprised at some of the weird tasting pho broths out there. For example, Les Givrals Kahve–not to be confused with the original Givral on Bellaire, this one is an entirely different chain: one on Washington, the other on Congress–has one-dimensional broth that reeks of pepper and nothing else. Blegh.

Quoc Viet makes a delicious broth. I actually prefer my homemade quick & easy chicken pho to any other restaurant’s. One day I will attempt to make it from scratch, but till then, this is a simple yet savory substitute. And remember, if the Blind can Cook it, so can you.


Recipe: “Quick” & Easy Vietnamese Chicken Noodle Soup

Summary: Pho ga–instructions can be found on the label of the Quoc Viet soup base, but here is my version.

Ingredients

  • 1 jar Quoc Viet brand “chicken pho” soup base
  • 15-20 chicken legs
  • 1 pc. fresh ginger, unpeeled but washed
  • 1 whole onion, unpeeled but washed
  • 1 (13.5 oz.) can chicken broth
  • 2-3 gal. water
  • 3 pkg. rice sticks (banh pho), cooked al dente
  • 1 bunch scallion/green onion, washed & finely chopped
  • 1 bunch cilantro, washed & finely chopped
  • 3 limes, cut into sm. wedges
  • Sriracha, hoisin sauce & fish sauce to taste

Instructions

  1. In a lg. stockpot, combine chicken, ginger, and whole onion. Add enough water to cover ingredients. Bring to a boil over high heat.
  2. Add contents of the Quoc Viet soup base, making sure not to tear open the enclosed spice bags. Boil at med. heat for 20 min.
  3. Remove chicken, ginger, onion, and spice bag. Add chicken broth to soup and adjust water to 2-3 gal. of water, depending on taste. Bring back to a boil. Then reduce heat to low and let simmer until ready to serve.
  4. Meanwhile, remove skin from chicken and shred meat.
  5. To serve, in a lg. bowl, place noodles, chicken, scallion, and cilantro. Pour steaming broth into bowl. Garnish with freshly squeezed lime juice, Sriracha, and/or hoisin sauce.

Quick Notes

I put quotation marks around the word “quick” because while it is quicker than making pho from scratch, it still takes some time to prepare.

You can often find the Quoc Viet soup bases, along with the other ingredients, at your local Asian grocery store. You can also find them online but you’ll probably have to purchase in bulk.

The specific brands of ingredients I like to use are:

  • Swanson chicken broth
  • Sriracha brand hot sauce which is a Thai sauce made of sun-ripened chili peppers and garlic
  • Koon Chun hoisin sauce

As for rice sticks, I like to get the medium-sized noodles (rather than the small that are served in most restaurants), simply because this is what my mama used to serve, and it’s nostalgic for me. As for brand, I used to get the one with a red rose on the package, but that brand has become increasingly harder to find, so I’ve resorted to using one with an elephant. Some cooks I know say it’s an abomination to use dried rice sticks, preferring to only use the fresh ones in the refrigerated section of the store. Anyone have a suggestion as to which rice stick brand I should use?

Variations

Different people like different garnishes and condiments with their pho. I personally only add lime, choosing to forego all the various sauces and veggies. Call me a purist, but I tend to like tasting the essence of a dish. For others, though, you can serve raw veggies: bean sprouts, mint, basil. My mama used to like stalks of green onion blanced in broth. Sometimes, I like slices of red onion doused in vinegar. Place these garnishes in the center of the table and let diners help themselves. Just be sure to let the newbies know it’s for the pho and not a side salad; my dad’s seen a man eat this at a restaurant before his pho came out.

This recipe should make about 20 servings.

Cooking time (duration): 60

Meal type: brunch

Culinary tradition: Vietnamese

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chicken fried chicken

With a side of country green beans and baked mac 'n cheese



Aahhh…even the post title can make one salivate. In my last post about chicken fried foods, I talked about the Luby’s $2 Thursdays, which I have yet to try. Since then, I found a chicken fried chicken recipe online and watched a Travel Channel “Food Paradise” episode on deep-fried foods, and it was only a matter of time before I busted out the cooking oil. And then came along my friends’ request for comfort food. Perfect.

Before we get to the anticipated recipe, did you ever gaze at a Cracker Barrel or other diner menu and wonder what the difference was between a country fried steak/chicken and a chicken fried steak/chicken? In college, (it seems I learned many things in college), I met some folks from Philadelphia who brought it to my attention that the term “chicken fried steak” is just odd. Is it a chicken? Or is it a steak? Is there such thing as chicken steak? Well, the term “chicken fried,” whatever it precedes, refers to a style of frying the food item the same way one would prepare fried chicken–that is, to batter it and then deep-fry it. Indeed, the Philadelphian folks were appalled and overwhelmed by the range of things us Southerners deep-fry: steaks, bacon, pickles, Twinkies, Oreos, Snickers, beer, Coke, butter, even shoes. Because in Texas, you deep-fry everything just because you can. But back to the original question: what’s the difference between country fried and chicken fried? According to Alton Brown, a country fried steak/chicken is dressed in brown gravy while a chicken fried steak/chicken uses white gravy. So there you have it. Consider yourself a Southern fried expert.

So without further delay, here’s the chicken fried chicken recipe I used as the entree for the birthday dinner. Not only was it delicious (what fried thing isn’t?), it was easy. So for sure, if the Blind can Cook it, you can too. Use this to impress your non-Texan friends next time they’re in town. Or throw a Southern-themed dinner party. Just make sure you have some Tums on hand.


Recipe: Chicken Fried Chicken

Summary: Original recipe from All Recipes

Ingredients

  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, pounded to 1/2 to 3/4″ thick
  • 25 Ritz crackers
  • 1/4 c. all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp. onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp. paprika
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 1/2 c. oil for frying

Instructions

  1. Place Ritz crackers in a gal.-sized Ziploc bag and smash to crumbs.
  2. In a shallow bowl, mix together flour, onion powder, garlic powder, and paprika. In the next shallow bowl, mix together the beaten eggs with salt & pepper. In the third shallow bowl, pour the smashed Ritz crackers.
  3. Coat each side of the tenderized chicken breast halves first in flour mixture, then egg, then cracker crumbs. Double-coat in flour and egg if desired. Let sit for 10 min. or until chicken is dried before frying.
  4. Meanwhile, heat oil to med.-high heat. Fry chicken for 10 to 15 min. or until done, flipping every 5 min.

Quick Notes

Peanut oil is best for deep-frying since it has a higher smoking temperature. Other good oils for deep-frying are safflower, sunflower, or canola. (I foresee a post on deep-frying coming up.)

Variations

The original recipe didn’t call for any of the spices but I figured garlic and onion and paprika couldn’t hurt. They are, after all, what goes into good fried chicken. I used Ritz crackers since that’s what I had on hand, plus I figured the buttery flavor of the Ritz would add flavor to the chicken. But original recipe uses saltines, so those could work too.

Cooking time (duration): 45

Meal type: dinner

Culinary tradition: USA (Southern)

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ribs, legs, and wisconsin wieners: part 2

Continuing from the previous post on the Labor Day barbecue, here are the other two recipes that made up our grilling festivities.

Note: Again, I apologize for the lack of photos on a food post, but the food just got to’ up before John had a chance to snap some on his phone.

We grilled up about 25 chicken legs, and so to avoid monotony, I decided to use two different grilled chicken recipes. The last time I made this chicken recipe, it was a hit so why not go again for a crowd pleaser? The recipe is simple, requires few ingredients, and is easily adaptable according to how you feel like eating it. (You’ll see what I mean in the recipe below.) Now make it and eat it. Don’t you think it’s better than that crap Jack-in-the-Box version?


Recipe: Teriyaki Chicken

Summary: Original recipe for the baked version from All Recipes

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp. cornstarch
  • 1 tbsp. cold water
  • 1/2 c. brown sugar
  • 1/2 c. soy sauce
  • 1/4 c. cider vinegar
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp. ground or minced ginger
  • 1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
  • 12 skinless, boneless chicken thighs

Instructions

  1. In a small saucepan over low heat, combine cornstarch, water, sugar, soy sauce, vinegar, garlic, ginger, and pepper. Let simmer, stirring frequently, until sauce thickens and bubbles.
  2. If baking, preheat oven to 425 degrees. Place chicken in a 9″x13″ baking dish. Brush both sides of the chicken with the sauce. Bake for 30 minutes. Turn chicken over and bake for another 30 minutes or until no longer pink and juices run clear. Baste with sauce every 10 minutes during cooking.
  3. If grilling, cut chicken into 1″ cubes and marinate chicken in sauce for at least 1 hour. Before cooking, skewer the meat. Heat grill to medium-low heat and oil grates. Grill until done, about 10 minutes, turning halfway through cooking time.

Quick Notes

If grilling, try also grilling pineapple slices. In either case, serve with rice.

Variations

On Sunday’s barbecue, we used whole chicken legs instead of skewered chicken thighs. The preparation is all the same: marinate the skinless chicken legs in the teriyaki sauce for at least 1 hour. Grill time is obviously longer–about 60 minutes–and we suggest you baste frequently, at least once every 15 minutes or so. Turn the legs over halfway through cooking to ensure both sides are done.

Cooking time (duration): 70

Meal type: supper

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My next recipe is considered the soul food of Wisconsin. That’s right, beer brats. “Bratwurst” is a German compound word–brat means “chopped meat” (but is often misconstrued as originating from braten which means “fried”) and wurst means “sausage.” I had no idea bratwursts were the pride and joy of Wisconsin until the best rated bratwurst recipe I found on All Recipes had “Wisconsin” right in its name. Then I dug around online and stumbled upon this page. Boy, do those Wisconsinites love their brats. Miller Park in Milwaukee is the only baseball stadium in the U.S. to sell more brats than hotdogs. Now I can add beer brats to the very short list of things that remind me of Wisconsin: the Packers, the Bucks, the Brewers, beer, cheese, and “That ’70s Show.”

While our brats did not taste as yummy as the ones from Austin’s The Best Wurst on 6th Street, they were good in a sober Houston sort of way. And with Oktoberfest coming up, you can be sure this recipe would add just the right Munich touch to your festivities.


Recipe: Wisconsin Beer Brats

Summary: Original recipe from All Recipes.

Ingredients

  • 12 bratwurst sausages
  • 1 onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 stick butter
  • 3 (12 fl. oz.) cans or bottles beer (more if necessary to cover ingredients)
  • 1.5 tsp. ground black pepper
  • 12 hoagie rolls
  • sauteed sauerkraut
  • brown mustard

Instructions

  1. Prick bratwurst sausages with a fork to prevent bursting while cooking. In a large stockpot, bring beer, onion, butter, and pepper to a simmer. Add sausages. Cook for 15-20 minutes.
  2. Heat grill to medium-high heat. Lightly oil grill grates, and cook bratwursts for 10-14 minutes, turning occasionally for even browning. Serve immediately in hoagie rolls with onions and sauerkraut and brown mustard.

Quick Notes

The recipe calls for hoagie rolls, never hot dog buns. I didn’t get to taste one with any sauteed sauerkraut. Instead I had it with sauerkraut straight out of the jar, and boy, was that no good. Sauteeing the sauerkraut is a must–do it in a little bit of butter for optiumum results. You can even throw those onions leftover from the stockpot into the skillet. And always serve with brown mustard; yellow mustard is an abomination.

Cooking time (duration): 40

Meal type: lunch

Culinary tradition: USA (General)

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And that concludes our Labor Day cookout. As I always say, if the Blind can Cook, so can you.

vietnamese chicken curry

Ca ri ga (chicken curry) is a stew-like dish eaten as a main course. It’s perfect for those cold winter days but because my husband and I have been on a French baguette kick ever since our honeymoon in June (more on that later), I decided to cook up the perfect accompaniment to the baguette.

France has a presence in Vietnamese culture due to the French colonization of the Indochine region during the 19th Century. This is why some of the vernacular transferred and why the baguette is used in several Vietnamese dishes. The beauty of this curry is its versatility in that it can, with a few tweaks, be made with beef instead of chicken. Rice sticks (banh pho), egg noodles (mi), or even rice (com) can also be substituted for the baguette slices.

I got this recipe from my Aunt Carol whose creations I used to scarf down when I lived under her roof back in high school. As with all great cooks, nothing was properly measured in her recipe so I had to cook it several times and modify it here and there before it tasted similar to hers. (The way I was originally cooking it made it super watery–it was missing that slightly thicker consistency of curry. Of course, the Vietnamese variety is not as thick as its Thai or Japanese and Korean counterparts, so don’t worry if it looks more like soup. You can just add more cornstarch to thicken it up.)

Made my house smell funky but oh-so delicious

Ingredients:

  • 2-3 lbs. chicken, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 tsp. onion powder
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. ground black pepper
  • 2 tbsp. cooking oil
  • 3 medium carrots, peeled and cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 3 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into wedges
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped
  • 2 lemongrass stalks, cut 3 inches long
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tbsp. curry powder
  • 1 (13.5 oz.) can coconut milk
  • 3 (13.5 oz.) can chicken broth
  • 1/4 cup fish sauce
  • 2 tsp. cornstarch, diluted in equal parts water
  • cilantro for garnish

Directions:

  1. Combine chicken, onion powder, garlic powder, salt, pepper, and 1 tbsp. of the curry powder in a large bowl. Let marinate for 30 minutes.
  2. Heat oil in a large stockpot and saute garlic and onion until fragrant. Add remaining 1 tbsp. curry powder and stir for 30 seconds. Add chicken and stir until completely covered in curry mixture, about 3 minutes.
  3. Add carrots, potatoes, celery, lemongrass, fish sauce, coconut milk, and chicken broth to stockpot. Add enough water to cover ingredients. Bring to boil, then cover and reduce to simmer for 20 to 30 minutes or until chicken, carrots, and potatoes are cooked through.
  4. Before serving, add cornstarch mixture. Add more for desired thickness. Garnish with cilantro. Serve over rice sticks, egg noodles, rice, or with baguette slices.

Serves 6 to 8.

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