Memorial Day Fried Chicken

I’m a big fried chicken fan.  With all this hoopla around Sergio Garcia’s recent unfortunate comments regarding Tiger Woods and chicken, it got me thinking.  “Who doesn’t really enjoy friend chicken.”  A good friend of mine, who happens to be white, recently tweeted out “I wish the negative association with fried chicken would disappear. The only people who don’t like fried chicken are ass ____.”

I’d agree with that.

I love fried chicken, but I always feel like it’s such a messy ordeal.  Maybe I’ve been wrong all these years?  Prior to cooking this chicken on memorial day, I had last cooked fried chicken in 2004, my first year of law school.  The chicken was amazing but my apartment smelled like fried chicken for days.  I haven’t made a true fried chicken since.  I had recently read a New York Times article that basically told America that you should fry chicken because it’s not that big a deal.  I took that to heart, my recipe is below.  I also made some biscuits and a watermelon salad (I have a hipster sense of irony sometimes).

Fried Chicken

Ingredients:

5 lbs of  bone-in chicken  (We are a dark meat crowd (not trying to be ironic), but you can just cut up a whole chicken)
2 cups of buttermilk
2-3 tbs of onion powder
1-2 tbs of  garlic powder
2 teaspoons of cayenne pepper
salt and pepper to taste
Paprika, salt, pepper, more garlic and onion powder, and flour for dredging (for flour dredge)
Oil for frying (I used canola and a bit of leftover goose fat), you can also use shortening.

Method:

Place first 5 ingredients in a non-reactive bowl or large zip top bag.  Marinate chicken overnight (or at least 3 hours, as the buttermilk also breaks down the chicken and makes it more tender).  Heat oil to 375 in cast iron skillet (I have a giant 15″ skillet, but a 12″ would do the trick).  Place flour dredging mixture in a sturdy paper or plastic bag.  Add 4 or 5 pieces of chicken and shake in flour mixture until well coated, taking care to prevent flour from spilling everywhere.  Remove chicken from flour mixture and shake off excess flour . Place chicken in oil and fry, for 7-8 minutes per side until golden brown.  You can also check chicken with a thermometer (out of the oil). The chicken should be around 155-160.  Drain fried chicken on paper bags covered with a layer of paper towels.  Allow chicken to cool for 10 or 15 minutes and serve.

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Another ACP

I had done two Arroz con Pollo’s in the past couple of months.  Here are photos from the more recent one.  The recipe and cooking method is the same in this one.

Mother’s Day Barbecue

 

For Mother’s Day, My wife and I brought lunch over to my mom’s house.  My mom loves bbq, but hates making it, so many years ago she handed the bbq tongs over to me.  That’s cool because I love smoking barbecue.  While I do own a smoker, for small jobs (here a brisket and a pork butt) it’s overkill.  Here I used a variation of the old “Texas Crutch” technique.  I started the smoking on my weber kettle to add smoke and to get some color on the meat.  I then wrapped the meat in foil and put it in a 225 degree oven overnight.

Brisket and Pulled Pork

Ingredients:

1 whole  5-6 lb brisket flat (if you can get the point, more power to you, if you do get the point trim some fat off, if using the flat keep the fat)
1 4-5lb boston butt roast
bbq spice rub (use your favorite, I believe i have a recipe in an old blog post)

Method:

Soak wood chips (use your favorite, I like mesquite and cherry wood) and wrap in foil.  Poke holes in foil pack.  Rub meat with spice rub. Light charcoal until grey and place coals on one side of grill.  Place foil packet over hot coals and place grill grate.  Place meat on cold side of grill (not over the coals) and place cover (have vent holes opened on the grill) and cook for about 2 hours (grill does not need to be screaming hot).  Wrap meat in heavy duty foil and place in a preheated 225 degree oven.  Cook the meat overnight (about 8 hours).  Allow meat to rest in foil for about 1 hour.  Slice the brisket and pull the pork and serve immediate with your favorite barbecue sauce.

Arroz Con Pollo

Arroz con pollo is a big hit in our house.  If you’re Latin or grew up around Latin people, you know what a wonderful bit of comfort food this dish is.  I’m not sure my recipe is all that authentic, but it’s pretty good, and makes for an easy one pot meal.  A more traditional arroz con pollo would use a Spanish style short grained rice, which I have used to great effect.  I also like using parboiled converted rice too (Uncle Ben’s brand), as it will also yield nice separate grains (if you’re into that), and give a nice “pega” (explained below).

 

Arroz Con Pollo

Ingredients:

2 Cups of rice (thoroughly rinsed until water runs clear)
1 small onion, diced
3 cloves of garlic minced
3 carrots diced
1 whole chicken cut up (or use chicken parts, I often just put legs and thighs in there) with skin
1 package frozen peas or lima beans
1 28 oz carton of low sodium chicken stock
1 packet Sazon (with saffron), or even better 1 bunch of saffron threads bloomed in 1/4 cup hot water, or a couple of teaspoons of tumeric
1 bottle of lager style beer (optional), if not add a little water
olive oil for frying
salt and pepper to taste

Method:

In large pot, heat pan to medium high heat.  Add olive oil, and brown chicken pieces (be careful not to crowd the pan) to a nice golden brown.  Remove chicken pieces.  Add a bit more oil and add carrot and onion.  Saute for a few minutes to soften, and be sure to scrape the fond (brown bits) from the bottom of the pan, created by the chicken.  Add garlic and stir until fragrant.  Add rice and coat rice with oil.  Add sazon (or bloomed saffron or tumeric) and liquid (beer and stock or stock and water).  Add chicken and peas. Bring pot to a boil, and reduce to a simmer. Cover and cook until water is absorbed and rice is cooked.

If you’re using a good heavy or non stick pot, be sure to keep the rice on the heat for maybe 8 or 10 minutes after it’s done so you can get a nice “pega.”  Pega is the Spanish word for crunch rice that forms at the bottom of the rice pot. If you use low enough heat you can get a wonderful beautiful crust on the bottom.  It’s much easier to accomplish with the par boil riced as it’s lower in starch, but you can do it with other rice.

IMG_2573 IMG_2574

Old friend. Old twist.

Lasagna begins with good preparation

Lasagna begins with good preparation

Recently the Miami New Times posted an article about a local pasta shop which is about a mile away from my house called Mr. Pasta.  My wife and I were intrigued by this spot and we wanted to try out some of their fresh made pasta to make at home.  I thought long and hard about what I would make and two dishes came to mind. The first was a pasta with a beef sugo, which I never cooked before.  The second was a lasagna using the fresh pasta sheets (I have never used fresh pasta in lasagna before).  After weighing which option to pursue, I just decided to combine the two.  It worked out great.

Beef Sugo Lasagna

Ingredients:
2-3 lbs of chuck roast
bunch fresh herbs (I used oregano and parsley)
1 onion
3 cloves of garlic
3 tbs of tomato paste
1 14 oz can of beef broth
1 cup of marsala wine
1 jar of preferred marinara sauce
16 oz of Whole Milk Ricotta
2 eggs
2 large fresh pasta sheets from Mr. Pasta or some other kick ass purveyor of fine fresh pasta
mixture of fresh mushrooms (oyster, shitake, cremini)
4 -5 tbs of grated parmesan cheese
1 ball of mozzarella di bufala (or fior di latte)
olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Method:
In a pressure cooker combine the first eight ingredients along with salt and pepper to taste (if you are feeling like an overachiever you can sear the meat first, but I did not do this), and bring to a boil.  Place pressure cooker lid and cook at high pressure for 60 minutes, allowing the pot to cool and employing the natural release method.  Remove meat from pot and shred with fork. Set aside.

Heat a medium skillet to medium high and saute mushrooms in olive oil and cook to a golden brown.  Season with salt and pepper and set aside.

In a medium bowl.   Place ricotta in bowl along with eggs, parmesan, pepper, and a glug of olive oil.  Mix until mixture is uniform.

In a large pot, boil some water.  Cut Lasagna sheets into thirds (I had six smaller sheets and used two per layer) and place in boiling water.  Boil pasta for one minute and drain.  Pour cold water over the noodles. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In a 9 x 13 glass baking dish, place a few tablespoons of the jarred marinara and spread evenly on bottom of dish.  Place two lasagna sheets to cover bottom of dish.  Place half of ricotta mixture evenly across bottom layer of noodles.  Add the shredded beef and marinara.   Place second layer of pasta.  Add remaining ricotta.  Add mushroom mixture and marinara.  Add third layer of noodles.  Spoon marinara on top and top with torn pieces of mozzarella di bufala.

Tent the baking dish with tin foil and bake in 375 degree oven for 30 minutes with the cover on.  After 30 minutes, remove foil and bake uncovered until golden brown (30-45 minutes).  Remove the lasagna from heat and allow it to cool for about 20 minutes (lasagna should be warm, not molten hot).  Serve.

Brazilians Taking Over

It seems that the Brazilians are taking over everything in South Florida, including my blog! It’s not a bad thing though by any means, because Brazilians always bring great meat with them whenever they come over! If you haven’t been to a Brazilian barbecue, you are missing out.  Brazil easily has one of the best grilling traditions in Latin America (and that’s saying something).  One of their prized cuts is the picanha (aka top sirloin, aka coulotte, aka cap steak), a cut we don’t really eat much here in America.

Picanha prior to grilling

Picanha prior to grilling

There is not much you need to do to this great cut.  It’s incredibly forgiving, because of the beautiful cap of fat on it, that will keep the meat juicy even if you cook it beyond medium.  I simply score it and season aggressively with salt and pepper.  In this preparation I also added slices of garlic, but that’s entirely optional.  Since the cut is so large (2.5 to about 6 pounds), it’s best to cook this massive steak through in direct heat.  Also as the fat cap tends to cause flare ups, in direct cooking is preferred if you don’t want to have your picanha burnt to a crisp.

It should be noted that Brazilians like to grill the whole picanha like a massive steak and then while the steak is on the grill they slice the rare steak in thick slices and then grill each slice individually.  Every time I see this done at a barbecue I can’t take it.  You’ve got to let the meat rest! I mean it still tastes pretty good, but I just can’t get over it.  I roast the picanha whole on the grill using the indirect heat method and allow it ample time to rest.  I do finish with the picanha by searing the fat side down on the hot side of the grill, just to crisp up some of the exterior fat (watch carefully because it will flare).  I think my version is infinitely better.

The Finished Andre Style Picanha

The Finished Andre Style Picanha

Brazilians usually serve their picanha with yucca flour and this pico de gallo style mixture.  I serve mine like I would any other steak.  Next time you are at your butcher ask for this cut, it’s underrated (in America).

Sunday Taco Fiesta: the aftermath

I’m notoriously bad about posting pics for a blog sequel, and this post is really no different. The tacos were a big success yesterday for our dinner with the new neighbor.  I was most happy with the carne asada.  As I posted yesterday, I used flank steak, and the marinade really helped make the meat tender and it really permeated the meat.  All the food was well received.  Everyone liked the salsas, and I think for the most part making salsas the day before are preferred, because the flavors have a chance to develop.

As for the preparation of the food.  I fired up the old weber with natural charcoal.  I wanted a real hot grill especially because I was working with wet marinated meat, which is harder to sear.  I started with the flank steak (because I knew the fish would stick some), and placed the steaks on the hottest part of the grill for about 2-3 minutes per side. I removed the steaks from the grill, and allowed them to rest covered in tin foil.  I then scraped down the grill and placed my corvina on there.  I basically just let it develop a crust on the first side, and just covered the grill to allow the fish to cook through.  I know my grates weren’t going to release the fish very easily (know thy grill), so I didn’t want an even bigger mess on my hands by trying to flip the fish.  Cook the fish 7-8 minutes, until just opaque.  Transfer fish to a tray (or serving bowl) and flake the fish with a fork. Be sure to scrap up the real crispy bits of fish from the grill (assuming your grill is clean that is!) and add that to the flaked fish.  It’ll give the fish a great texture, adding some crispness to the very moist flaked fish.

fire it up

fire it up

photo 2

the aftermath

We kept the garnishes really simply.  I had a bowls of finely chopped onion, and finely chopped cilantro ready, along with chopped tomato (just because I had a tomato), cotija cheese, lime wedges, and our salsas.  I also grilled the tortillas with my dying embers (natural charcoal while super hot, burns quick).  I also made some beans as a side. I just cooked the beans (soak the beans overnight) in a some unsalted chicken stock, water half an onion, pepper (no salt), garlic, and several lardons of salt pork.  I cooked them for about two hours until tender, and then seasoned the beans with cumin and Mexican oregano.  Should’ve taken a picture….