Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Good Food, Bad Mood - Brooklyn Fried Chicken

I awoke in such a rotten mood that I hesitate to put any of my thoughts into print.  Some of it might have to do with the flea infestation we cannot seem to get rid of - yes, this is an old house and yes, I do have four dogs and one very pissed-off cat.  It may have something to do with the tasks I set for myself to do today, one of which involves studying a big packet of papers and forms sent to me by Human Resources regarding disability retirement.  It may have to do with the fact that the air potatoes have completely overtaken our hedges. There is also the inescapable fact that the new medication is not doing a damn thing to help me with depression, anxiety, and another other negative feelings that creep over me throughout the day.              

I have an ear worm.  I don't like it, I don't want it, but it's there.  The damn thing has so many verses it can go on forever, but this is the one that pinked me today:          

The sword of time will pierce our skins
It doesn't hurt when it begins
But as it works its way on in

The pain grows it grin ...             

The news, the news - as bad as ever.  I am choosing not to say anything about the whole Duggar situation, because if I start, my head will explode. I also have nothing to say about Bruce/Caitlyn Jenner, except: good luck. Politics - the only person who hasn't thrown their hat into the Republican ring is me, at least that's how it feels.  Besides, I'm a Rational Anarchist, not a Republican.  Everybody is picking on Hillary, and that sort of pisses me off, because I plan on voting for her.  Listen to me, peeps - most of what politicians say during campaigning is at best, aspirational, at worst, a bunch of bald-faced lies to get the vote.  The only thing that matters is what he or she does once they are in office; in other words, voting is a crapshoot.  I'm betting on Hillary; your mileage may vary.

One of my new hibiscus presented me with a lovely yellow bloom this morning. And we picked up  two window box-type containers for planting strawberries.  If I have any energy left after frying the chicken (and venting my spleen) I will work on those strawberries.      

And I will follow the advice of my good friends, get the paperwork done and move on to bigger and better things.  More vegetables in the garden, perhaps.  Go back to school for my psychology doctorate, eh, not likely. Become a caterer.  Ho ho ho. Anything but go back to a precarious health situation with  intolerable stress and into a courtroom where a bully sits on the bench.

So - we flea-bombed the upstairs and will now pray for blessed relief.  The chicken is done, golden-brown-and-delicious.  At least I hope it is delicious; it's not like I can actually eat any of it.  Oh hell, I did taste it.  It's delicious. Definitely worth three days and the price of a quart of buttermilk.  Let me give you that recipe before I veer off on yet another rant.

Frying the first side; always start skin-side down

You may wonder why this is called Brooklyn Fried Chicken.  Well.  I have no idea.  It needed a name, I'm from Brooklyn, and there you are.  My grandmother-who-raised-me never fried chicken.  Actually she never fried anything. except possibly an egg. Frying was verboten in our house, like seeking psychiatric help.  Frying something that had been breaded was not only verboten, it was a shanda, a terrible shame.

It may look messy, but it is totally mise en place and easy to clean up.

Once I moved down south - or at least to Florida, which is as south as most northerners ever go, I could not get enough fried chicken.  Forget KFC or Popeye's, I had discovered Publix and after 23 years, I still think they make the best commercial fried chicken.  But I was determined to master this down-home staple (not my home, that would have been a shanda) and I worked my way through different versions from different southern cooks.  It's not difficult, it's just messy.  Frying is messy, let's face it.  Oh, and my version takes three days, did I mention that?

Well-seasoned chicken

I use Montreal Chicken Seasoning. It works perfectly, and I've tried different blends and combinations.  Look at the label on a container of the seasoning and you will see a goodly combination of spice, salt, and herb, including the flavors of orange and lemon, which are crucial to a balanced bite.

Brooklyn Fried Chicken

1 whole chicken, cut up (about 10 pieces - I cut each breast in half)
Montreal Chicken Seasoning
1 quart low fat buttermilk
Crystal Hot Sauce
self-rising flour
canola oil for deep pan frying
1 pound chicken livers (totally optional)

Frying the second side

First, season the chicken generously with the Montreal Chicken Seasoning.  Place the chicken in an aluminum tin, cover with plastic wrap and then with aluminum foil.  Refrigerate overnight, 12 hours is good.

Next day, move the seasoned chicken carefully into a Jumbo (2.5 gallon) ziploc plastic freezer bag.  Set the bag into a baking dish or aluminum pan (in case of leaks or spills).  Pour in the entire quart of buttermilk and a good amount of Crystal hot sauce.  Just remember you want flavor, not fire.  Seal the bag and refrigerate for 24 hours.  Rotate the bag once or twice.

Once you are ready to fry, choose your burner and cover the rest of the stove top with aluminum foil. Lay some paper towels over the foil, careful to stay clear of the burner you will be using.  Fill an aluminum pan about halfway with the self-rising flour (there will be waste, sorry) and place it closest to your frying pan.  Don't season the flour.  Put the bag of marinated chicken next to the pan of flour. Lay metal cooling racks over the paper towels. (Scroll back up for the photo of the set-up).

Can you see the baby eggplant?

Now in your widest, deepest frying pan with straight sides (sometimes called a chicken fryer) pour in enough oil to reach one-third to halfway up the sides.  Over medium high heat, bring the oil up to 360 degrees.

Now, with your hand (or my preference, an extra long pair of tongs), remove the chicken from the marinade and coat it in the flour.  Don't worry about letting marinade drip off, and do let the chicken pick up a nice coat of flour.  Don't discard the marinade yet; just zip it closed and return it to the refrigerator Immediately add each coated piece to the hot oil (do this is batches, about four to a batch) and fry on each side until you have a gorgeous golden-brown crust on both sides.  If it seems that the oil is frying faster and hotter with later batches, lower it slightly.  With a slotted spatula, remove the fried chicken to the cooling racks.  Eat the chicken at whatever temperature you prefer.  The texture of the chicken will be divine, and you will be able to taste the different seasonings.

Gorgeous, delicious, Brooklyn Fried Chicken

Time to discuss those chicken livers.  We love chicken livers (except for Cory, who eats raw fish, eel, and ostrich).  I usually sauté them with onions, but I've been known to get in touch with my Jewish roots and whipped up a batch of gehakteh leber (chopped liver).  But Brooklyn Fried chicken livers are so good - how could they not be, they're fried? - it is worth firing up that pan one more time.  The best part is, you don't have to clean up in between.

Take a pound of fresh chicken livers, and rinse them in a colander under cold water.  Add them to the bag of reserved, refrigerated buttermilk marinade and put them back into the refrigerator for about two hours. Reheat the oil in the pan to 360 degrees, adding more oil as needed. Dredge the chicken livers in the flour, just as you did the chicken, and add them to the hot oil.  Fry 'em, rack 'em, snack on 'em.  If you don't care for chicken livers, just discard the marinade and the flour when you are done with the chicken.

Oh, and the answer to the question as to the identity of the actor who played the World Health Organization doctor in the movie World War Z?

Can't make these things up.  Peter Capaldi played the Doctor from W.H.O. No, really. The W.H.O. Doctor.  Ha ha, funny, yes?  Please tell me you get it.

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