Monday, November 23, 2009

Thomas Keller's Buttermilk Fried Chicken. Sort of.

Okay. Newsflash. Fried chicken is bullshit. Every time I make it... the innocuous pie plates of seasoned flour, the quaint bowl of buttermilk, the pile of harmless chicken parts and pieces... an hour later I am cursing myself as perspiration drips down my face into a vat of boiling hot oil. Why? Because, OH, I'm sorry, let me correct myself, Making fried chicken is bullshit. And, the people who say it's not have never made it. Or, they are the kind of people who have all the time in the world or have a deep fryer. Here's some advice: pan roast your skin-on chicken parts. Sear the skin, flip and stick in a 400 degree oven until cooked through and skin is crisp. Season with salt and pepper. End of story. Just as good. No, even better than that. If you love yourself, do not get involved in buttermilk or dredging, hot boiling 300+ degree oil or seasoned anything except directly on chicken or possibly in a brine.

Trust me on this one, please. And, don't get seduced by those people who tell you the best way to fry chicken is in a cast iron skillet (you know who you are Alton Brown). It's just as messy as a deep fryer, a thick bottomed dutch oven or a $300 Le Creuset cast iron enameled pot which is what I used tonight. To no avail. There was nothing special about that fried chicken except I undercooked the first piece like I always do because how can you really tell that the chicken is cooked all the way through when there is a thick-ass crust covering all that uncooked meat? You cut into it. That's how. And, then, you have that piece of chicken that will get cooked but now since you've knifed into it, it can't be plated for your presentation perfect photo-op dinner plate.

And, you have to take of pic of dinner, especially if you've gone through the hell of frying chicken. OH, and of course, it tasted good. Like family reunion summer picnic with a down home crunch type good. Don't forget, this Spicy browngirl CAN cook--even if it's the dreaded fried chicken. Having Thomas Keller's Ad Hoc at Home cookbook by my side helps. With straight-up recipes and manageable lists of ingredients, there's lots of food love for the home cook in those pages.

By the way, here's a great place to BUY kickin' fried chicken (and waffles):

The Little Skillet, San Francisco

And, here's a great place to get whole-roasted and rotisserie chicken:

Good Frikin' Chicken, San Francisco

peace and grits and fryin' legs,


Saturday, November 7, 2009

Big Valley Buffalo is Back!

In case you hadn't already heard... Prather Ranch has revived its buffalo trade ("bison" to you rancher types). Almost a year ago, they were having distribution problems and their tasty, grass-fed buffalo trade was stopped. That meant no more buffalo burger breakfasts after my Saturday morning runs along Embarcadero.

However, after today's run (in a shiny, new pair of Asics, I might add), I was thrilled to see buffalo burger on the menu at Prather Ranch's outdoor grill pit at the Ferry Plaza market. The price has gone up--the economy of scale for pristine, grass-fed game meat being what it is--about two bucks a pound more from the last time they had it. And, they're no longer doing a flat rate for 5 lbs of meat. But, Big Valley Buffalo is so worth it. Take it from this foodie...

See you at Prather,