Bringing the Heat with Nashville Hot Chicken

Hot ChickenWinter 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.

Dipping chicken

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 then dipped 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.

Breaded in the Basket

Cooked chicken

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.

Yummy!

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!

Fried Chicken – South American Style

We had a visit from a famous South American fried chicken chain that wanted to take a closer look at our Collectramatic® Pressure Fryers. He had heard about Collectramatic, but had never tested one until his purchasing manager pointed out our price point compared to their current brand.

The goal was to match their current process, texture, and to save on maintenance costs. Their current fryer is costing them a lot of time and money on maintenance.

Maintenance was a simple answer but we had even more to offer against their current brand:

  • Collectramatic only has a few moving parts that relate to pressure.
  • Collectramatic gaskets are simple to remove and clean.
  • Collectramatic fryer pot is round and does not have corners that are hard to clean and crack.
  • Collectramatic fryers have the heating elements in the oil resulting in faster recovery time.
  • Collectramatic fryers can fryer up to 20 batches of 6 heads of chicken (120 heads) without filtering compared to needing to filter after only 4 to 5 batches with their current fryer brand.

barry-fryerWe cooked a few rounds at our “normal” setting. And although the final color matched their website photo, the customer wanted it darker, much darker.

Now the big question. Was our Collectramatic pressure fryer ready to match the chicken they were looking for? I had confidence, but they have a unique process that I had not tried before.

After breading the chicken they place the breaded chicken in a refrigerator for a minimum of one hour prior to frying. In our test, we breaded the chicken and placed them in our quarter rack basket assembly before placing in the refrigerator. Currently, they bread the chicken, place it directly on a sheet pan, refrigerate and hand drop each piece of chicken into the pressure fryer.

Now the big test! Having never had the opportunity to try their chicken beforehand, we had never tasted their breading or their chicken (secret stuff). We were ready! So our Chef Barry Yates set the Collectramatic to their current setting of 350F for 12 minutes and 30 seconds.

We pulled a full rack of breaded chicken from the refrigerator after one hour. Needless to say, the breading was fully set as opposed to when you bread and place it directly into the fryer. In went the chicken, the lid was closed & locked and we pressed the start button.

As the time ticked away we waited patiently waited as the Collectramatic pressure fryer went to work, not knowing how this breaded/refrigerated chicken would turn out.

sa-chickenThe buzzer sounds. We pull the chicken. I look at Barry and he looks at me. The chicken appears much darker than we are used to, and we look at the customer to gauge his reaction. Nothing.

We then un-racked the chicken from our quarter rack basket assembly, keeping the chicken on the quarter rack trays, placed the trays easily on a sheet pan (4 per sheet pan) and let the customer dive in.

He begins pulling pieces apart, looks very closely at the breading and studies the interior like a true fried chicken professional. He then takes a knife and cuts through the bone to examine the marrow.  He grabs a thigh and takes a huge bite.

sa-single-chickenWait for it… “Perfect, now that’s what I’m talking about!”

Barry and I were still a bit skeptical about the dark color until we grabbed our first piece and took a bite. The exterior was dark, firm, crunchy with that old school black iron skillet fried chicken look. It did not have a burned or overcooked taste. The interior was very juicy and very tender.

It was absolutely amazing!

It is clear why this South American fried chicken chain has such a huge following.

So, the next time you are making fried chicken in our Collectramatic pressure fryer, give this breading option a try. You will not be disappointed!

Fried Chicken: It’s on the Menu

Crispy Fried Chicken

Chicken Trivia:

  • More than half of all chicken entrees ordered in restaurants are for fried chicken.
  • In 2007, 95% of commercial restaurants had fried chicken on their menu.
  • The average American eats over 80 pounds of chicken each year.
  • According to the National Chicken Council, more than 1.25 billion chicken wing portions were consumed on Super Bowl Weekend in 2012 (more than 100 million pounds).

What menu item is going to keep customers coming back for more? To-go orders? Catering offerings? What is going to set your product apart from your competition? Fried chicken!

Let’s look at the features and benefits of our Collectramatic® Pressure Fryer. Available in 4-head (32 pieces per drop) and 6-head (48 pieces per drop) versions – now that’s a lot of fried chicken!

Benefits of pressure frying:

  • Quicker cook times
  • Juicier product
  • Tenderization
  • Texture control
  • Healthier product

Benefits of a Winston Collectramatic Pressure Fryer:

  • Microprocessor controller
  • Reliability – Very few moving mechanical parts
  • Round pot – For strength with a single weld, sediment cannot build up in the corners and continue to cook/burn the oil.
  • Footprint – Let’s look at the numbers. With a LP56 fryer 6-head, you can fry approximately 192 pieces of chicken per hour and 1,200 pieces before you need to filter the shortening. Our collector, the largest in the industry, catches all the sediment from the cooking vat, so it does not continue to cook

At a recent training, with an install of three LP56 Collectramatic fryers, the customer was able to pressure fry 576 pieces per hour and 3,600 pieces before they needed to filter the shortening.

Partner this with a Winston Shortening Filter and a CVap® Holding Cabinet or two, and now you have a fried chicken program sure to bring success!

The Rise of School Lunch Delicious Diversity

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!

okra friesBut what makes this story uniquely American is how we adopt foods that lean toward the countries 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 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).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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. I spent some time in a Philadelphia kitchen that was one of the most creative places 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.

ingredients in the bagThe recipe 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: Merriam-Webster.

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

  • 2 Chickens, whole
  • 8 oz Mushrooms, crimini, sliced, cooked
  • 2 Tbs Thyme, picked, minced
  • 1 Cup Cream
  • 4 tsp Salt
  • 2 Cups chicken thighs (fat, bone, and connective tissue removed)

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.Cut the chicken
  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.Remove breast from keel bone
  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.Peel skin
  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.ready for refrigeration
  8. Remove the legs from the bird. Debone the legs and remove all the fat and connective tissue from the meat.Deboning the leg
  9. In a food processor add the leg meat and salt (2 teaspoons). Turn the food processor on and combine the ingredients.chicken meat in food processorWhen all the ingredients are combined 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.forcemeat
  10. Remove the breasts form the refrigerator and lay them out breast side up. Season with remaining 2 teaspoons of salt.
  11. Pipe the forcemeat into the cut breast.Pipe forcemeat into the cut breastRoll 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.wrapping breasts
  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.Tightening the ballotine
  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.Make sure ballotine is tight
  16. Place the ballotines in the CVap Cook and Hold.Ballotines in CVap oven
  17. Heat a pot of oil to 350°F to fry the ballotines when they come out of the cook & hold oven.
  18. Once the ballotines are cooked, remove them from the oven and let stand for two 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.Frying ballotines
  21. Remove from oil and let stand five minutes before slicing and  serving.
    Fried ballotineSliced ballotine

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 & Hold Oven set at 180°F + 30 for 8 hours with Constant Cook ON.

stock

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

chicken confit

The skin was removed from the 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 oven at 200°F + 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.

Kickin' 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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