Superbowl Food – Korean Fried Chicken Wings with a Celery and Blue Cheese Slaw

celery blue cheese slaw and korean fried chicken

This is the best fried chicken I’ve ever had.  We only  make fried chicken about twice a year and when we do, it has to be this recipe.  Crispy, light batter doesn’t overwhelm the chicken and it’s SO crunchy, you’d think it was double coated.  Koreans know what they’re doing with fried chicken, and I think if you did this preparation to some chicken wings on Game Day, you would definitely be the hero of the hour.  The blue cheese celery salad is an amazing side for the chicken.  Crunchy and tangy and creamy – the perfect slaw/salad for fried chicken!

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Korean Fried Chicken*

Kosher salt
3/4 cups corn starch
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 pounds chicken wings (about 12 whole wings)
2 quarts peanut oil or vegetable shortening
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup cold water
1/2 cup vodka

Combine 2 teaspoons kosher salt, 1/4 cup cornstarch, and 1/2 teaspoon baking powder in a large bowl and whisk until homogenous. Add chicken wings and toss until every surface is coated. Transfer wings to a wire rack set in a rimmed baking sheet, shaking vigorously as you go to get rid if excess coating. Transfer to refrigerator and let rest, uncovered, for at least 30 minutes and up to overnight.

When ready to fry, preheat oil to 350°F in a large wok, Dutch oven, or deep fryer.  We used a wok on the stove.

Combine remaining 1/2 cup cornstarch, 1/2 teaspoon baking powder, flour, and 2 teaspoons kosher salt in a large bowl and whisk until homogenous. Add water and vodka and whisk until a smooth batter is formed, adding up to 2 tablespoons additional water if batter is too thick. It should have the consistency of thin paint and fall off of the whisk in thin ribbons that instantly disappear as they hit the surface of the batter in the bowl.

Add half of the wings to the batter. Working one at a time, lift one wing and allow excess batter to drip off, using your finger to get rid of any large pockets or slicks of batter. Carefully lower wing into hot oil. Repeat with remaining wings in first batch. Fry, using a metal spider or slotted spatula to rotate and agitate wings as they cook until evenly golden brown and crisp all over, about 8 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate and season immediately with salt. Keep warm while you fry the remaining wings.

We dipped ours into traditional buffalo sauce, which we love.  The chicken is so gloriously crispy that we didn’t want to totally coat it in sauce.  Do as you please.  The original recipe calls for a mighty fine sweet soy sauce that I highly recommend.

*absolutely did not mess with this perfect recipe from Serious Eats

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Celery and Blue Cheese Slaw*

Celery Ribs (thinly sliced at an angle)
1/2 Red Onion (very thinly sliced; 1/2 cup)
1/2 cup fresh Flat-Leaf Parsley leaves (chopped)
1 tablespoon Sherry Vinegar
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated Lemon Zest
1/4 teaspoon Kosher Salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground Black Pepper
1/4 cup crumbled Blue Cheese

In a large skillet, add one tablespoon of butter and saute the celery and onion until just beginning to soften, but still crunchy, about 5 minutes.  In a large bowl, toss the parsley, vinegar, olive oil, lemon zest, salt, and pepper and whisk to combine.  Fold in the celery, onion and blue cheese and serve!

*adapted from Carla Hall’s recipe

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Chicken Fricassee, Deconstructed

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Chicken Fricassee was one of the first meat dishes I made for Olive when she was a baby, just starting out on solids.  (The first meat she had was homemade beef ragu – I kinda threw the rule books out when it came to feeding her and I haven’t regretted it a single day.)  I made the dish from that month’s Martha Stewart Magazine and took a little bit of each component and blended it up with a little extra chicken stock. Olive consume it with a great fury.  The flavors are so simple and so rich – it truly is a comfort food dish.  And if you think it’s “fancy” because it has a French name, fear not – it’s basically a chicken pot pie without the pie.  All those amazingly comforting flavors of chicken soup, thyme, carrots, peas, cream gravy, butter – they’re all there.  You serve it over rice or pasta and revel in the comfort.  It’s not difficult and it tastes like pure love.

I’ve made that Martha Stewart version several times, but for this recipe, I worked out of the Bonne Femme cookbook and decided to deconstruct it because Olive is able to eat each component just chopped up small, but not big enough to tackle chicken still on the bone.  So I cooked the chicken, shredded it after it had cooled, and then assembled, garnishing with the pan gravy at the very end for an easy to eat version that everyone really loved.

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Deconstructed Chicken Fricassee*
serves 4

2.5-3 lbs bone-in, skin-on chicken parts (legs, thighs, breasts, whatever – I used the whole chicken in pieces)
salt and pepper
2 tbs vegetable oil
1/2 a white onion, chopped fine
1/2 cup low-sodium chicken broth
1/2 cup dry white wine (or more chicken broth, if you don’t have any)
1 bay leaf
4 carrots, peeled and cut into 1/4 x 2″ sticks
1/2 cup frozen pearl onions
2 tbs unsalted butter
2 tbs AP flour
1/4 to 1/2 cup milk
2 tbs chopped fresh tarragon
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
2 tbs fresh lemon juice

Pat the chicken pieces dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper on both sides.  Heat the oil in a large, deep skillet or stock pot over medium-high heat until it shimmers.  Add the chicken and cook, turning occasionally, until brown on all sides, 10-15 minutes.  Transfer the chicken to a plate and drain off all but a tbs of fat from the pan.

Add the onion to the pan and cook briefly, stirring, until fragrant.  Add the chicken broth and wine, stirring to loosen any browned bits from the bottom of the pan.  Return the chicken to the pan.  Add the bay leaf and bring to a boil, then reduce heat.  Cover and simmer for 25 minutes.  Then, scatter the carrots and pearl onions around the chicken; cover and simmer until the chicken is done (internal temp should register 170 on an instant read thermometer), about 15 minutes more.

With a slotted spoon, transfer the chicken and vegetables to a large bowl; cover with foil to keep warm.  Discard the bay leaf.  Pour the pan juices into a measuring cup and set aside.  Melt the butter in the pan over medium heat.  Stir in the flour with a wire whisk to make a smooth paste.  Cook and stir for one minute.  Slowly add the pan juices back to the pan, stirring with a wire whisk until smooth.  Cook the mixture until it boils and thickens, then continue to cook for one minute more.  Whisk in enough milk to make a sauce of the desired consistency and bring to a simmer.  Stir in the tarragon, parsley and lemon juice.

I then shredded up the chicken by hand, scattered an equal amount into each bowl over a heap of rice, arranged the vegetables on top of the chicken and then spooned my pan sauce over everything and cracked a lot of black pepper on top of that!  There’s something magical about fresh black pepper and a rich chicken dish.  It’s just perfect.

Enjoy!

*adapted from the Bonne Femme cookbook, which is perfect

Sweet Soy Glazed Chicken

Honey Soy Glazed Chicken Legs

Happy Wednesday.  I got to spend today baking in the kitchen with one of my favorite people in the world, Becky McGrew.  We baked something truly decadent and crazy rich, but that will be a post for another day. 🙂  Today is more practical.  At the beginning of the week, I have such gusto for cooking my meals.  I go to the store on Sunday nights and buy my grocery list for meals to get me through at least Wednesday night (I don’t like to buy more than that, lest things go bad in the fridge, waiting to be cooked.)  Thursday morning is usually winding down and trying to find a use for my many leftovers.  It’s good to have a few recipes you can always rely on to be great and interesting in the middle of the week.  Recipes that aren’t hard, aren’t boring and make you feel glad you didn’t just give up and go out to dinner.

This is a perfect mid-week meal because it gets you over the hump in the week and gives you amazing leftovers.  Such a rich, sweet and savory glaze on this chicken pairs perfect with a few light sides like stir-fried snap peas or roasted brussels sprouts with fish sauce vinaigrette.

Honey Soy Glazed Chicken*

12 chicken legs (or other parts, but I’d definitely use chicken on the bone)
kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons neutral oil (not olive)
2 tablespoons ketchup
1/2 cup soy sauce
1 cup honey
2 to 3 cloves garlic, minced

Preheat oven to 400ºF. Wash and dry and lightly salt and pepper the chicken and place in a 9X13-inch pan.

Combine remaining ingredients and pour over chicken. Toss chicken in the sauce and then arrange, skin-side down in the baking pan. Place in the oven for 30 minutes. Remove pan, turn chicken over, and return to the oven for another 30 minutes. Remove pan and turn chicken over once more. Turn the oven down to 375ºF and bake for an additional 15 minutes.  My chicken didn’t get as glazed as the original recipe appears, so I took matters into my own hands and placed the chicken on a serving platter and tented it with foil to keep warm and then put the sauce on the stove in a medium saucepan and let it reduce by half until really syrupy.  BEST DECISION EVER.  I then took a ladle of the syrup and added it to rice as an accompaniment.  BEST DECISION EVER.  I think you could add the reduced soy glaze to just about anything and it would be…the best decision ever.  Totally delictable, dresses up any sad chicken, any sad side dish.  Would be great tossed with roasted broccoli for a stir-fry.  Geez, the possibilities are endless.  Enjoy!

*recipe adapted from Alaxandra Cooks

Food Memories: Chicken n’ Noodles

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Many of us have memories of being little and watching our moms or dads or grandmas cook or bake for the family.  The first memory that comes to mind for me is watching my mom cut out biscuits with an old green chili can she had cut the top and bottom off of (it’s the perfect biscuit size!) and then slap each side of the biscuit in vegetable oil, then slide the disc in line with the others to fill up an entire pizza pan.  There is something methodically calming about watching someone cook.  I always felt like I was helping, even if I never touched anything.  I felt involved, because mom let me stand there or sit on the counter across from her and talk to her while she worked.  I will always be thankful that she let me hang around the kitchen.  She was always so busy doing a thousand things for our family that it was the one moment when things were somewhat calm and we could just be together and I could count on it every night because I (thankfully) had a mom that cooked dinner 6 out of the 7 days of the week.  You really can’t replace that kind of experience with anything else.  Those memories stick.

My dear friend, Louise Shoemaker, shared a memory and a meal with me last week that seemed so fitting for my blog and for what I love about cooking for my family and eating together.  She is one of the best writers I know, (she was my 10th grade English teacher – how lucky I am to still be friends with her!) so I asked her to write a little blurb about the recipe and the memory that went along with it.  My favorite part about this recipe was consulting her every 5 minutes to make sure I was doing things right.  She had driven up to Lubbock for the day and ate this meal with us!  I’d never made noodles from scratch, and technically, neither had she, but she’d watched her mother so much that she knew.  Here is what she had to say about the chicken noodle soup that made a permanent home in her memory:

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L
ouise and her Mother

It’s funny that a food memory starts with a sharp, clear visual. The bright yellow Pyrex bowl and the red-handled Daisy egg beater swirling the rich gold of fresh yolks. I’ll never forget the 50’s color scheme of the kitchen: pink walls, turquoise cabinet doors, chocolate brown trim. I can still see the white enamel-on-steel kitchen table and my mom in her long, slim dress with the apron tied smartly and the scarf pulled back over her careful bobby-pin curls. It’s as clear in my eye today as it was in those days 50-some years ago.

It must have been a Wednesday. Two days until payday and five mouths to feed on a budget stretched to the last nickel. So, a plump (cheap!) boiling hen, a dozen eggs, a pile of flour, a splash of water, and we knew we’d make it till Friday.

Chicken’n Noodles: made-from-scratch pasta boiled in rich, fresh stock, with chunks of chicken so tender it fell off the bone. A silky thickened sauce, glistening with a bit of butter, and thick, rustic slabs of slightly chewy noodles curling on a plate. YUMM!

The aroma of that meal is the smell of childhood, and it takes me right back there to that kitchen watching my mom pour the beaten eggs into the crater of the flour volcano and mix and knead and roll the dough out to a four-foot circle. I can see her boning a mountain of chicken, dropping heaping handfuls of raw noodles into bubbling broth. Cooking this meal was a production, an infrequent event. I’ve savored the memory of Chicken and Noodles for decades. It was amazing to re-create it with Alisa. And Olive.

I like to think of them cooking together for years to come, Olive sharing with her mother an experience so rich and elemental and, in today’s environment, rare. You’re a lucky (impossibly adorable) munchkin, Ollie! And your mama is pretty awesome, too!

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I am giving you the recipe I did – I only added a few things to the stock, the rest, I followed Louise’s mom’s story-like recipe as best I could.  With pointers from Louise along the way…

Chicken’n Noodles

For the stock:
1 chicken, cut into pieces (8 pieces, bone still in: wings, breasts, legs, thighs)
Water
Salt
1 onion, chopped into quarters
3 carrots, chopped into thirds
2 bay leaves
3 sprigs of thyme

Put the chicken pieces into a large stock pot and cover with water until covered by about 2 inches.  Add a couple tablespoons of salt along with the onion, carrot, bay leaves and thyme.  Bring to a boil, skimming any foam off the top as it comes.  Reduce to a simmer and maintain a simmer (I left my burner on about a 3-4) for 1 and a half to 2 hours.
Remove the chicken from the pan and let it cool.  Then, remove skin, bones and any fat that remains.  Chop or hand-shred the chicken and set aside in a bowl in the fridge while you make the noodles.  Skim the stock of as much fat as you can, but don’t fuss too much.  Remove the carrots, onion and herbs and discard so you’re left with a (mostly) clear broth.  Keep the broth at a simmer with the lid on while you make the noodles.

For the noodles:

3 eggs
a big ol’ mound of flour (maybe 4-6  cups)
salt
elbow grease

Pour a mound of flour on a clean work space and create a hole in the center, volcano-style.  Make it deep enough so that when added, the eggs don’t spill over the side. Leave flour on the floor of the volcano so you can’t see your counter.  Crack the eggs into the hole and with your hand or a fork, whip up the eggs, incorporating flour as you go from the sides.  You won’t use all the flour, of course.  Keep incorporating flour to the eggs, stirring all the while, until you are left with a ball of dough that isn’t very sticky anymore.  Knead the ball for a good 10 minutes until you’re left with a very smooth ball of dough.  Trade off with a friend if you get tired:

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Clean your hands and insert your finger into the center of the dough.  If it comes back super sticky, add more flour and knead some more.  Cover your dough with a towel and let it rest for 10 minutes.

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Clean off your work space and if you’ve worked clean, you can save most of the flour you didn’t use.

Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface till it’s an 1/8th of an inch thin.  Or thinner.  You may need to let the dough rest a few times throughout this process because it will start to shrink back up.  Once you get it thin enough, cut it into whatever shapes you like.  I chose squares because I have a kiddo that needs everything cut up, anyway.  Louise remembers her mom cutting looooooooong, thick strips, which would be wonderful, too.  You could even get cute and cut out little shapes from tiny cookie cutters.  Once you get all the dough cut, make sure each piece is coated in flour and bring at least a cup more flour with you to the stove to boil and put this dish together.

Making it Into Soup:

Get your stock to a rolling boil.  Dump your noodles in a handful at a time until they’re all in the pot, stirring as you go so they don’t stick.  This is the vague portion of our program.  Once the noodles are al dente, add the chicken back in and bring it back up to a simmer over medium-low heat.  While stirring, add a sprinkling of flour – maybe 1/4 cup – and stir until fully incorporated.  Keep adding flour till a good consistency is reached.  You’re wanting an opaque sauce that’s neither soupy nor gravy – somewhere in the middle.  If it coats the back of a spoon, it’s probably ready.  Adjust the seasoning with salt until it sings of chicken goodness.  Ladle up, top with a good sprinkle of freshly ground black pepper and enjoy.  We had ours with a wonderful Chardonnay and some crusty challah bread with butter.  Really – it does NOT get better than that.  The baby went crazy for this soup, too, and ate her entire bowl, plus some of ours.

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Thai Basil Whatever

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I wanted to share with you a recipe I’ve been making for years.  Matt and I cooked a lot of Thai food in the first few years we were married.   Matt had a version of this dish while living in Nashville at a place that served Chinese food, but had Thai posters all over their walls.  So Matt asked one day if they would make him some Thai food and the guy excitedly made a chopped chicken dish with Thai basil and hot Thai chilies.  Matt was hooked.  We love the flavors of fish sauce, soy sauce, the heat of peppers and the sweetness of basil that this dish brings.  It’s a wonderful mix of sweet/sour/spicy.  Over the years, we’ve lost the original recipe we first referenced and so this is legitimately a Palmer original.

Again – don’t be afraid of fish sauce.  It’s completely essential to the flavor balance of this dish.  If you can’t find Thai basil, regular Italian basil works just fine.  I’ve used ground pork, chicken and turkey, as well as hand chopped chicken thighs (so good), but my go-to is ground turkey.  Don’t leave off the fried egg!

Thai Basil Turkey 
serves 4

1lb ground chicken, turkey or pork
3 tbs peanut oil or canola oil
1 medium white onion, chopped fine
6 cloves garlic, chopped
4 or 5 seeded jalapenos, diced (or Thai chilies, or whatever kind of pepper/heat level you want)
1 tbs fish sauce
1 tbs soy sauce
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil leaves

This recipe goes quicker if you use a large wok over really high heat.  If you don’t have a wok, use the largest stainless steal skillet, or cast iron skillet you have.  Heat the oil over medium high heat till it shimmers.  Add in the onion and stir a few times till they soften.  Working quickly, stir in the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.  Add in your ground meat and jalapenos and stir until meat is cooked through.  If you want more heat, stir in your chilies closer to the end of cooking.  When the meat has cooked through, toss in the fish and soy sauce and stir to coat.  Remove the pan from heat, stir in the chopped basil and cover to keep warm.  In a non-stick skillet, fry a couple eggs in peanut oil, and a splash of soy sauce and serve on top.

I typically serve this over about a half cup of rice.  I’m not going to tell you how to cook rice.

 

Cooking from a Food Memory

Chicken Brian

The first time I went down to Tulsa, Oklahoma to meet Matt in person, we ate this dish together with his family at a restaurant called Carrabba’s.  (We met via instant messenger, after a dear friend of mine, who was talking to both of us at the same time said, “Here, you guys talk to each other, you’re telling me about the same band” (Jurassic 5) and after talking that day, we talked every day, increasing in hours logged (we had only land lines way back in 2003 and ran through multiple calling cards each week.)  6 months later we were engaged, and a year after that, we got married.  We’ve been eating good meals together ever since. Aww)

Matt ordered the Chicken Bryan and we both marveled at the melty goat cheese and sun dried tomato mix that was tangy and sweet.  A revelation!  Since that day, I’ve tried to recreate it multiple times, but I never can quite replicate it.  (Not enough butter?)

This week, I tried again and I’m slowly getting closer.  It’s such a good dish, and as I look at their online menu, it says they drizzle a basil lemon butter sauce on top.  Ah.  That might help. Will try again next time!  I happily used up the rest of my goat cheese and even made a mini portion on a bread and butter China plate for Olive, just so she’d feel fancy, too.  (I think it worked, as she made some of the chicken into a hat near the end of the meal.)

As a side, I made the creamed spinach and basil recipe from a few weeks ago, and put a scoop inside squares of puff pastry, baked it, and although they didn’t stay together in the neat little pouches I folded, they were still amazingly good and a perfect side for this dish.

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Chicken with Sun Dried Tomatoes, Goat Cheese and Basil
serves 4 to 6

1 lb chicken tenderloins
Salt and pepper
4 tbs olive oil
1/2 cup sun dried tomatoes, sliced in half
8-12 basil leaves
1 shallot, diced small (1/4 cup – you can use an onion if that’s what you have on hand)
1/4 cup white wine or chicken stock
4 oz goat cheese

Pat the chicken dry with paper towels and season each side with kosher salt and pepper.  Heat olive oil (go two tablespoons at a time) over medium heat until shimmering and cook the chicken strips in batches, not over crowding the pan, or they won’t get a good sear.  Chicken strips don’t take long to cook, maybe 1-2 minutes per side. Let the strips sit on a plate, covered in foil to keep warm until ready to plate.  In your empty skillet, add the diced shallot and saute until golden.  Then, add in a splash of wine or chicken stock, scraping up the browned chicken bits and then add a tablespoon of butter to make a pan sauce.  Set your sauce off the burner so it won’t continue to reduce.

Put your chopped sun dried tomatoes in a saucepan with a quarter cup of water and let it simmer to re-hydrate a bit.  Assemble the chicken, two strips per plate, with a sprinkling of sun dried tomatoes, a basil leaf or two, and a slice of goat cheese.  Place the plates under the broiler until the cheese melts.  Drizzle your reserved sauce over the cheese and serve!