Bringing the Heat with Nashville Hot Chicken

Chicken and Pickles

 

Winter may be waning, but the popularity of Nashville Hot Chicken sure isn’t. We decided to try our hand at preparing a big batch. It was as good (and hot!) as promised.

Nashville Hot Chicken’s powerful poultry story originated nearly seven decades ago, at Prince’s Hot Chicken Shack. Apparently Thorton Prince was quite the lady’s man. Tiring of his late night escapades, his gal served him up a Sunday breakfast of fried chicken, generously doused in cayenne pepper and other fiery spices. Her revenge backfired – rather than crying out in pain, he loved it, and the inspiration for Nashville Hot Chicken was born. If you’re interested, read the whole story on Prince’s website. Numerous other restaurants and chains, inspired by Prince’s, have put their own twist on this Nashville classic.

 

We brined in the fridge overnight using a simple 6 % brine. If you want to learn everything you need to know about brining go to our friend’s site Genuine Ideas (browse under their food header). We lightly dusted the chicken with our seasoned flour, and thendipped it in a simple blend of eggs, buttermilk and hot sauce.

Then we tossed lightly again in our breading mix, giving us a light double breaded chicken. Double breading creates a nice robust crunch once the chicken is fried. Properly prepped, it was ready for the Collectramatic fryer.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The chicken was open-fried for 15 minutes at 325°F. It emerged from the fryer a mouth-watering golden brown. After draining excess oil, we painted with the spicy special sauce using a pastry brush. It was as good as we had hoped, delivering a delicious heat that delighted our taste buds while making our faces flush and our brows sweat.

This chicken can be held for two hours in a CVap holding cabinet. After frying, place it directly in a CVap set to 135 +50. Apply the sauce just before serving.

 

 

 

 

 

Here’s a pared-down version of the recipe (in case you’re not feeding an army).

Nashville Hot Chicken

  • 2 – 3 1/2-4-pound chickens, each cut into ten pieces (breasts halved)
  • 1 gallon of 6% brine
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 cups buttermilk or whole milk
  • 2 tablespoons vinegar-based hot sauce (such as Tabasco or Texas Pete)
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour seasoned with salt, pepper and paprika. (You may use your own special flour mix if you’d like).
  • Vegetable oil (for frying; about 10 cups) (unless, of course, you have a Collectramatic fryer handy).
  • 6 tablespoons cayenne pepper
  • 2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  1. Whisk eggs, buttermilk, and hot sauce in a large bowl. Whisk flour and remaining 4 teaspoons salt in another large bowl.
  2. If you’re not using a Collectramatic fryer, fit a Dutch oven with frying thermometer; pour in oil to about two inches depth. Heat over medium-high heat until thermometer registers 325°F. Pat chicken dry. Working with one piece at a time, dredge in flour mixture, shaking off excess, and then dip in buttermilk mixture, letting excess drip back into bowl. Dredge again in flour mixture and place on a baking sheet.
  3. Working in four batches and returning oil to 325°F between batches, fry chicken, turning once after 15 minutes, until skin is deep golden brown and crisp and an instant-read thermometer inserted into thigh pieces registers 185°F and 165F white meat. This usually takes ten more minutes after the turn for a total cook time of 25 minutes. Transfer to a clean wire rack set inside a baking sheet. Let oil cool slightly.
  4. Whisk cayenne, brown sugar, chili powder, garlic powder, and paprika in a medium bowl; carefully whisk in 1 cup hot frying oil or melted lard. Brush fried chicken with spicy oil. Serve with bread and pickles.

Enjoy!

The Rise of School Lunch’s Delicious Diversity

I have the pleasure of being Winston Industries’ School Nutrition Guru, so I get to travel the U.S. and see and talk to School Nutrition departments of all kinds. Many are similar in structure, but really the personality of each district is based on those people who serve and are served by it. It naturally makes me proud to see Winston equipment in so many kitchens across the country. I really am fond of seeing the pride in the teams who love what they do and the kids who love the awesome and healthy food that is being produced now. That’s been real head turner for me!

This is an American story.

There is an emerging trend of Native American fare starting to make its way onto restaurant menus. A great example can be found at a restaurant called Ulele (pronounced You-lay-lee) in Tampa, Florida, where they celebrate a vibrant fusion of ingredients from the waters and land that was once home to many Native Americans, including the young princess Ulele. Check out their website at www.ulele.com. If you travel to Tampa and stop in at Ulele, ask for Chef Eric Lackey and tell him JJ sent you!

 

But what makes this story uniquely American is how we adopt foods that lean toward the ethnicities that have emigrated here. This is happening in schools across the country and kids everywhere love the variety, and of course for some it is a learning experience!

In 2012, the School Nutrition Association noted a growing prevalence of ethnic food choices in school cafeterias, with schools offering Mexican and Asian dishes, and many experimenting with Middle Eastern, Greek, Kosher/Halal, and Indian foods.

Students in Miami-Dade County Public Schools have been invited to choose from Teriyaki Chicken with Lo Mein Noodles; Curry Chicken Salad; Black Beans & Rice Bowls and Cuban-style Roast Pork. The district offers a wide range of Hispanic dishes throughout the year, including Arroz Con Pollo and Picadillo with Rice and Plantains. (Source: Diane Pratt-Heavner, Director of Media Relations, SNA-The Food Journal and Food, Nutrition & Science)

School nutrition future leaders recently met for the National Leadership Conference in Minneapolis. This part of the story of Somalis coming to Minneapolis-St. Paul is a story of freedom. Somalis first immigrated to the Twin Cities as voluntary migrants in the 1980s and earlier. They journeyed to attend scholastic institutions or to establish businesses, including many professions. Other Somalis arrived in the United States after the start of the civil war in Somalia during the early 1990s, or from other parts of Greater Somalia. Many of the newer arrivals moved to Minnesota through voluntary agencies (VOLAGS), who helped them settle in. Somalis that had arrived earlier also assisted the more recent immigrants (Wikipedia).

Happy girls!
Photo courtesy of St. Paul Public Schools Somali Parent Advisory Council.
Variety on the lunch line.
Photo courtesy of St. Paul Public Schools Somali Advisory Council.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So of course Somali food from home had a profound effect on the Twin Cities and made its way on to school lunch menus in both school districts.
Chicken Suqqar is basically meat and veggies, Somali style. It was such a big hit at St. Paul School District’s Somali Parent Advisory Council meeting that they released the recipe for home use! I thought you might like to try it! I suggest a Brown Basmati rice under the mixture, I used boxed broth instead of chicken base and reduced it with chicken breast then removed and diced the chicken, added it back in and then followed the Chicken Suqqar directions. I also chose fresh carrots. You can do it anyway you like because this dish very versatile.

By the way, the school nutrition department where your kids go to school would be more than happy to have you as a guest to try the food being served. Just go to the district website and click on the Food and Nutrition Department. My experience has been that they want you to share their sense of pride in the local delicious diversity that they serve as a part of your community.

Bringing Home the Ballotine… with CVap®

As I have worked my way down the east coast I have always taken away something from restaurants. Whether it is a technique, preparation, a specific recipe, etc… there is always something to be learned. In 2012 I spent some time in a Philadelphia kitchen that was one of the most creative I have ever been in. We would manipulate products in directions that I had not considered possible before; such as juicing onions for a soup. There were also items on that menu that were so easy and so delicious, you would wish you had thought of them first.

insert 1Well, the recipe that I am offering is one that combines both: easy preparation and wonderful manipulation of the product. This is a tried and true recipe that never came off the menu, and its preparation is simple enough that one can serve a restaurant quality menu item at home.

Definition of Ballotine:
In the culinary arts, a traditional ballotine is a deboned leg of a chicken, duck or other poultry stuffed with ground meat and other ingredients, tied and cooked. A ballotine is usually cooked by braising or poaching. In modern kitchens, a ballotine is sometimes made from other parts of the poultry, such as the breast, not strictly the leg. Moreover, a modern ballotine can be made using any type of meat, not limited to poultry. Source: culinaryarts.about.com

Chicken Ballotine

Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 2 hours 15 minutes
Yield: 4 Portions

RECIPE

CVap Cook & Hold Settings: 165: 0: 2:00 hours

Ingredients / Quantity

Chickens, whole / 2 each
Mushrooms, crimini, sliced, cooked / 8 ounces
Thyme, picked, minced / 2 tablespoons
Cream / 1 cup
Salt / 4 teaspoons
Chicken, thighs (fat, bone, and connective tissue removed) / 2 cups

Method of Preparation

  1. Preheat the CVap Cook & Hold to 165: 0: 2:00
  2. Lay the chicken breast side down on a cutting board.
  3. Score the skin of the chicken from the top of to the bottom of the bird along the spine. Remove the wings at the top of the breast.IMG_0019
  4. Flip the chicken over and remove the breast from the keel bone. Make sure you do not separate the skin on the back of the bird while doing this.IMG_0021
  5. Flip the chicken back over onto the breast and peel the skin from the neck all the way down and off the leg of the bird. Make sure to keep the breast meat attached to the skin. Repeat this process on the other breast.IMG_0023
  6. Once all the breasts are removed from the birds, lay them meat side up. Cut the breast at a 45° angle from the top of the breast to the tail. Do not cut all the way through the breast.
  7. Refrigerate the breasts until they are ready to be filled.IMG_0027
  8. Remove the legs from the bird. Debone the legs and remove all the fat and connective tissue from the meat.IMG_0028
  9. In a food processor add the leg meat and salt (2 teaspoons). Turn the food processor on and combine the ingredients.IMG_0030When all the ingredients are combines and smooth, about 1.5 minutes, slowly drizzle in the cream. Add the mushrooms and thyme. Place the forcemeat in a piping bag and reserve.IMG_0034
  10. Remove the breasts form the refrigerator and lay them out breast side up. Season with remaining 2 teaspoons of salt.
  11. Pipe the force meat into the cut breast.IMG_0037Roll the breast so the skin is completely covering the breast meat.
  12. Line a counter/ table with plastic wrap. With the box of plastic wrap at the top of the table, tear off a piece that it 20 inches long and place the rolled chicken breast about 6 inches from the bottom.
  13. Roll the plastic over the chicken breast and continue to roll the breast to the top of the plastic wrap. Make sure the plastic wrap is tight to the breast.IMG_0039
  14. Once the chicken is rolled, grab the edges of the plastic wrap at the ends of the chicken breast and hold firmly. Roll the chicken on the lined table/ counter surface to tighten the ballotine.IMG_0040
  15. Once the ballotine is tight, tuck the ends of the plastic wrap to the bottom of the ballotine and wrap in another piece of plastic wrap to secure them. Repeat this process with the remaining chicken breasts.IMG_0041
  16. Place the ballotines in the CVap Cook and Hold.IMG_0044
  17. Heat a pot of oil to 350° Fahrenheit to fry the ballotines when they come out of the Cook & Hold.
  18. Once the ballotines are cooked, remove them from the Cook & Hold and let stand for 2 minutes.
  19. Remove the ballotines from the plastic and pat dry.
  20. Fry them in the oil until they are golden brown, about 3 to 5 minutes.IMG_0047
  21. Remove from oil and let stand 5 minutes before slicing and  serving.
    IMG_0048feature1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kickin’ Chicken Noodle Soup: A Bowl Full of Delicious Techniques!

Whether it’s good for the body, soothing for the soul, or transports you to a nostalgic happy place from your childhood, there’s something deeply satisfying about chicken noodle soup that resonates with most people.

It can also be an eloquent expression of different techniques. In this case, we utilized both CVap and Collectramatic equipment to create a chicken soup with a robust flavor profile and a broad range of textures.

For the broth, we combined chicken carcasses, aromatics including carrots, onions, celery, thyme, sage, parsley, and rosemary, and slowly reduced it in a CVap Cook and Hold Oven set at 180 + 30 for 8 hours with Constant Cook ON.

stock

Chicken thighs were vacuum-sealed with olive oil and salt and CVap-poached at 165 + 2 for 2 hours with Constant Cook ON. The result was a confit with an almost buttery texture.

chicken confit

The skin was removed from the CVap-poached chicken and open fried in a Collectramatic fryer at 350°F for four minutes.

frying skin

Celery, carrots, and onions were steamed in a CVap at 200 + 0 for one hour and added to the stock and held until it was time to assemble the plates.

steamed veggies

We purchased fresh noodles from whole foods and steamed them at the same settings as the vegetables.

noodles

For plating, we started with the steamed noodles and topped them with the vegetables, followed by pulled confit of chicken.

plate building

We then poured hot stock over the bowls and garnished with fresh herbs and the fried chicken skin crisps.

fresh herbs

cutting crispy skin

It just doesn’t get more satiating than that!

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