Buttermilk Fried Chicken

_MG_6495I think we can all agree that fried chicken is basically the perfect food. Salty, crunchy, pairs well with anything from waffles to salad...what more do you need? But though I love fried chicken, I had attempted to make it only once before, when Ari and I spent our first Thanksgiving together (cooking a whole turkey for two people seemed like overkill). I used the same recipe as below, but didn't have an instant-read thermometer to monitor the temperature of the oil, so while the chicken tasted good, it was a little too dark on  the outside for my liking._MG_6492This time, I was prepared and was even ready to substitute regular flour for gluten-free (I used thisone, but found I prefer this). It worked out surprisingly well, and I would have been hard-pressed to tell the difference had I not known already._MG_6494I've already waxed on about my love for Thomas Keller, so no need to reiterate it here – but be warned, if you brine your chicken (which you should, to make it incredibly juicy), you need to do so 12-24 hours before you plan to fry it. It's worth it, I promise. I served the chicken here with a simple slaw of red cabbage, scallions and shredded carrots tossed with a little apple cider vinegar, and watermelon rind pickles.

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Buttermilk Fried Chicken (adapted from Ad Hoc)

1 gallon cold water 1 cup plus 2 teaspoons kosher salt 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons honey 12 bay leaves 1 head of garlic, smashed but not peeled 2 tablespoons black peppercorns 3 large rosemary sprigs, or 2 teaspoons dried rosemary 1 small bunch of thyme or 2 teaspoons dried thyme 1 small bunch of parsley Finely grated zest and juice of 2 lemons 5-6 pounds chicken pieces (such as breasts and thighs)
3 cups all-purpose flour (or gluten-free flour) 2 tablespoons garlic powder 2 tablespoons onion powder 2 teaspoons cayenne pepper 2 cups buttermilk Corn oil, for frying
  1. In a very large pot, combine 1 quart of the water with 1 cup of the salt and the honey, bay leaves, garlic, peppercorns, rosemary, thyme and parsley. Add the lemon zest and juice and the lemon halves and bring to a simmer over moderate heat, stirring until the salt is dissolved. Let cool completely, then stir in the remaining 3 quarts of cold water. Add the chicken pieces, being sure they're completely submerged, and refrigerate for up to 24 hours or overnight.
  2. Drain the chickens and pat dry. Scrape off any herbs or peppercorns stuck to the skin and cut each bird into 8 pieces, keeping the breast meat on the bone.
  3. In a large bowl, combine the flour, garlic powder, onion powder, cayenne and the remaining 2 teaspoons of salt. Put the buttermilk in a large, shallow bowl. Working with a few pieces at a time, dip the chicken in the buttermilk, then dredge in the flour mixture, pressing so it adheres all over. Transfer the chicken to a baking sheet lined with wax paper.
  4. In a very large, deep skillet, heat 1 inch of  oil to 330°. Fry the chicken in 2 or 3 batches over moderate heat, turning once, until golden and crunchy and an instant-read thermometer inserted in the thickest part of each piece registers 160°, about 20 minutes. Transfer the chicken to paper towels to drain, and keep warm in a low oven while you fry the remaining chicken pieces. Transfer the fried chicken to a platter, and serve hot or at room temperature.

Sriracha, Ginger & Soy-Glazed Chicken Wings

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_MG_5715Does anyone eat chicken wings after the Super Bowl? I know, this post comes a little too late. But since the Super Bowl itself was pretty boring (and heartbreaking for us as diehard and pretty-into-it 49ers fans – guess who is who), I was much more excited about the food – which, let's be honest, isn't very surprising. I had actually never made wings before, and I have to say that this recipe is far too good to save for only once a year – and you could easily switch it up with a whole chicken cut into pieces, or even skin-on chicken breasts. It also make a great addition to my lunchtime salads this week, and now I have such a leisurely walk to my office through Times Square without all of the Broncos and Seahawks fans running all over the place (not really, but a girl can dream, right?)

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Sriracha, Ginger & Soy-Glazed Chicken Wings (adapted, very slightly, from Food & Wine)

12 chicken wings or drumsticks 2 tablespoons vegetable oil Salt and freshly ground pepper 3/4 cup rice vinegar 1/2 cup brown sugar 1/4 cup soy sauce 1 1/2 tablespoons sweet Asian chile sauce 2 teaspoons Sriracha chile sauce 2 tablespoons grated fresh ginger 3 scallions, sliced
Preheat the broiler. In a bowl, toss the chicken wings with the oil and season with salt and pepper. Arrange the wings on a rack set over a baking sheet and broil 10 to 12 inches from the heat for about 45 minutes, turning once or twice, until golden, crisp and cooked through.
Meanwhile, in a blender, combine the vinegar with the brown sugar, soy sauce, sweet chile sauce, Sriracha, ginger and half of the scallions and puree until very smooth. Transfer the sauce to a large saucepan and boil over high heat until thick and glossy, about 5 minutes. Add the chicken to the sauce and cook, tossing gently, until glazed, about 3 minutes. Transfer the wings to a platter and garnish with the remaining scallions.

Corn, Chicken & Butternut Squash Soup

_MG_5428Soup isn't the most glamorous of meals – not nearly as exciting as, say, foie gras, or steak, or even pizza. And yet, there is something so inherently comforting about a bowl of warm soup, filled with hearty vegetables and diced chicken, with a little honey-drizzled cornbread on the side for good measure. Soup like this makes me long for a fireplace, for a cabin somewhere in the woods with snow falling outside the window and no honking horns of the city. I can't promise that this soup will take you there, but it will make you warm on a cold night no matter where you are, and give you your daily serving of vegetables to boot. And sometimes, that's good enough._MG_5431

 

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Corn, Chicken & Butternut Squash Soup (adapted from Epicurious)

Word of warning: this recipe makes A LOT of soup. So be sure to have plenty of tupperware for leftovers, or make it for a lot of people (i.e. more than two)

2 tablespoon butter
2 medium onions, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1/4 cup all purpose flour
9 cups low-salt chicken broth
4 cups 1/2-inch cubes peeled seeded butternut squash (cut from one 1 3/4-pound squash)
1 1/2 pounds russet potatoes, peeled, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
2 16-ounce bags frozen corn kernels
1 cup milk
4 cups diced skinned roast chicken (2-3 chicken breasts)
2 cups chopped green onions
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

In a large pot, melt butter over medium-high heat. Add onions and 1 cup bell peppers. Sauté until onions are soft, about 10 minutes. Add flour; stir 2 minutes. Mix in broth, then squash, potatoes, and thyme; bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low; simmer uncovered until squash and potatoes are tender, about 12 minutes. Add corn, cream, and 1 cup bell peppers. Simmer until corn is tender, about 10 minutes. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Cool. Chill uncovered until cold, then cover and keep chilled. Bring to simmer before continuing.) Add chicken, 1 cup green onions, and 1/2 cup cilantro; simmer 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Ladle chowder into bowls; sprinkle with remaining 1 cup green onions and 2 tablespoons cilantro.

Pan-Fried Chicken with Lemon-Artichoke Sauce

_MG_5051 _MG_5055I almost never order chicken at restaurants. Somehow, chicken has gotten the reputation for being "boring" and usually, I'm more interested in trying fish or some kind of meat. There is one chicken dish that I will always order, however – the chicken Milanese at I Nonni. I worked at I Nonni, a great Italian restaurant just outside of St. Paul, the summer after I graduated college and before I moved to New York. It was a great summer  – the last time (probably) that I would live at home with my parents, the last summer I could be "a kid". (You're still a kid at 22, right?) I worked two restaurant jobs pretty much every day for those three months to save up money so that I could move to NYC at the end of August, and the nights I toiled away at I Nonni, I would usually end up ordering the chicken for dinner. Something about the lemony-buttery-bitter artichoke combination appealed to me – and of course, the crispy chicken and peppery arugula didn't hurt either.

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_MG_5065Later that fall when I was feeling a little homesick, I attempted to create the chicken dish to  bring back  little bit of home into my apartment full of hand-me-down furniture and less-than-desirable neighbors. I've changed it a bit over the past few years, but every time I make this dish, it reminds me of home.

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Pan-Fried Chicken with Lemon-Aritchoke Sauce (serves 4-6)

6 chicken breasts, pounded to 1/2-inch thickness

1/2-1 cup flour

2 eggs

2 cups panko breadcrumbs

4-6 tablespoons vegetable oil

6 cups arugula

Parmiggiano Reggiano, for serving (optional)

Sauce:

6 tablespoons butter

2 large shallots, chopped

2 14-oz cans artichoke hearts, drained and quartered

3/4 cup white wine

1/2 cup half and half

1/2 cup chicken broth

Juice of 1 lemon

1 lemon, thinly sliced

3 tablespoons capers

Place the flour, eggs, and panko into three separate, shallow bowls. Season the flour, and whisk the eggs lightly with a fork. Coat one piece of chicken lightly with flour, then dip into eggs, then panko so that it is completely coated. Lay on a baking sheet or cutting board, and repeat with remaining pieces of chicken.

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. When shimmering, add 1-2 pieces of chicken (depending on the size of your pan) and fry until golden-brown, about 3-4 minutes per side. Keep cooked chicken warm in oven, and repeat with remaining pieces.

Once chicken is fried, let pan cool slightly, then melt 1 tablespoon butter over medium-low heat. When it has melted, add  shallots and cook until soft and slightly transparent, about 5 minutes. Increase heat to medium and add artichokes. Cook for 1 minute. Add wine, half and half and broth, and bring to a boil. Cook until reduced slightly, about 10 minutes. Stir in remaining butter and flour and cook until thickened slightly, 2-3 minutes. Add lemon juice, slices, and capers, and season with salt and pepper.

To serve: place a piece of chicken over a handful of arugula on each plate. Spoon sauce over and shave a few pieces of parmiggiano reggiano over the sauce. Serve immediately.

Super Bowl Roundup

I can't say that I've ever really been all that into the Super Bowl, but I can of course always get down with the food. This year, however, I will be actually watching the game (and, obviously, the Beyoncé half-time show) in addition to enjoying some delicious snacks. Ari is a die-hard 49ers fan (though perhaps "fan" is somewhat of an understatement) and he'll be in New Orleans for the game, which means I'll have to fend for myself here in New York. That said, if I were hosting a Super Bowl party, I pulled together a few recipes from my archives that I would make:

_MG_3583Chicken Lettuce Wraps

mg_2244Ricotta and Honey Crostini

_MG_2802Harvest Focaccia

_MG_1668Avocado and Corn Salsa

_MG_3691Turkey & Pork Ricotta Meatballs

And for something a little sweeter..._MG_3796

Lemon Bars, my go-to recipe for parties

_MG_2534Or this quick Orange-Olive Oil Cake, which is easily transportable.

What are you making for the Super Bowl? Are you rooting for either team? (Go Niners!)

Summer Grilling & Simple Chicken Kebabs

Ever since Ari brought home a free Craigslisted gas grill (an epic story which may or may not involve the subway), we have been grilling every chance we get. There's just something about cooking in the open air that makes everything taste that much better. We've made several dinners now solely by grilling (with the exception of the above scallops, which needed to be finished on the stove as we ran out of propane), including portabello mushroom burgers (great alternative to beef) and chicken skewers with tomato, avocado, hummus, and grilled flatbread. As you can tell by the pictures, there seems to be a common theme -- corn! I could seriously eat sweet corn every day of the summer, and grilling is my favorite way to make it -- just grill for a few minutes until slightly charred on all sides, then slather in butter and salt. I will certainly share more recipes for the grill soon -- and please excuse the pictures, as they were all taken with Instagram.

Chicken Kebabs (serves 4-6)

6 chicken breasts, cut into 2-inch cubes

Juice of 1 lemon

1/4 cup orange juice

2 tablespoons rosemary, chopped

1 tablespoon thyme, chopped

1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Red onion, cut into large chunks (optional)

Combine chicken with lemon juice, orange juice, and all spices in a large covered bowl or plastic bag and marinate in fridge at least 1 hour and up to 1 day. Thread chicken pieces on skewers, alternating with red onion (if using), and grill over medium heat until cooked through and charred on each side, about 10 minutes per side. Alternatively, roast skewers on a baking sheet in the oven at 400 degrees until cooked through, about 15 minutes.

Note: be sure to soak wooden skewers in water before putting the chicken on them -- this will prevent them from burning.