Oven Fried Chicken & Waffles

Ah, fried chicken and waffles! Folks have been serving them together for ages, but the combo has enjoyed a lengthy renaissance of sorts in recent years. Mostly likely Southern soul food-inspired, interest in this decidedly decadent dish grew to a near frenzy back in the ’00s. Today it’s standard chow, found on menus just about everywhere.

With a chicken in the fridge, and too many jars of bacon fat, we felt tempted to fry it up with as much bacon fat as possible. Inspired by Ina Garten’s Oven-Fried Chicken and Julia Moskin’s Best Fried Chicken, we incorporated elements of the two recipes to come up with this version. We served the chicken with a batch of  Black Pepper and Parmesan Belgian waffles, a tweeked version of King Arthur’s Classic Buttermilk Waffles, and plenty of hot maple syrup, crunchy salt flakes and Tabasco. Stick-to-your-ribs dinner fare!

Our eyes were bigger than our bellies on this one. A whole frying chicken will easily feed four adults when combined with crispy Belgian waffles. So this one is for a family or party of four or more. Of course, if you’re like us, you’ll make it a little party anyway and serve it with Sazeracs. Next time we whip up a batch we’ll make sure to invite a few friends over.

If you happen to have leftover waffles, freeze them. They last for weeks and toast up quickly. Any leftover chicken can easily be turned into a quick fried chicken sandwich or salad.

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Best Oven Fried Chicken

1 chicken cut in eight pieces
1 cup kefir
1 cup AP flour
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 – 1 cup bacon fat (strained of all pieces)
vegetable oil for frying

Place the cut up chicken in a gallon sized plastic bag, add the kefir and zip shut. Refrigerate for 8 hours or overnight. In a gallon sized plastic bag, or bowl, add the flour, smoked paprika, salt and black pepper. Whisk together and set aside.

After marinating, remove the chicken from the kefir. Add a piece or two to the bag of flour, or bowl, and coat each piece. Set aside on a plate or tray. Continue with the rest of the chicken pieces.

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Add a baking tray and rack to the oven.

In a large fry pan on medium heat add the vegetable oil and allow to reach 350 – 360 degree. Slowly add the bacon fat and bring back up to heat. When oil is hot enough, gently, but quickly, add one piece at a time, about three to four piece. The size of the pan will determine the number of pieces that can be cooked at one time.

Fry for about 3-4 minutes on each side. Remove from the oil and place on the rack in the oven to continue to bake, another 20-30 minutes, or until the chicken is no longer pink at the bone.

Black Pepper and Parmesan Waffles

1 3/4 cups AP flour
1/2 cup almond flour
1/2 cup shredded Parmigiano Reggiano
2 teaspoons (or more) freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
1 3/4 cups kefir
1/2 cup (8 tablespoons) butter, melted and cooled to room temperature

In a medium-sized mixing bowl, combine the flours, Parmigiano Reggiano, black pepper, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.

In another bowl beat together the eggs, kefir, and melted butter.

Add the liquid ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir until almost smooth. A few small clumps may be present.

Heat the waffle iron. Once ready gently spray with non-stick spray. Add 1/4 – 1/3 cup of the batter to the waffle maker, or however much your waffle iron can hold. Cook until golden brown. Place in the oven to keep warm.

Serve the waffles and fried chicken with warm maple syrup or gravy.

Sazerac

2 ounces Bulleit Rye
1/2 tsp sugar
Several dashes of angostura bitters
A dash of Absinthe or enough to coat the bottom and sides of the cocktail glass without dripping out
Lemon twist

Note: This is a labor intensive cocktail that requires a little planning. It’s worth every second it takes to prepare!

Set serving class in freezer to chill. In a rocks glass, add sugar and bitters and stir until sugar begins to dissolve. Add bourbon or rye and muddle them until the sugar is completely dissolved (this takes time).

Remove cocktail glass from freezer and add absinthe, turning glass on its side to coat the bottom and inside of the glass. To the bourbon sugar bitters mixture, add 2 or 3 ice cubes and stir until chilled. Strain into frozen cocktail glasses.

Garnish with a piece of lemon zest (use a veggie peeler). Be sure to twist the lemon peel over the surface of the cocktail so that the oils “spritz” over the surface. Cheers!

Biting the Bulleit

Whiskies of the World 2016 in San Francisco is upon us. It is a great gathering of some of the world’s most iconic spirits. Jason has been feeling anxious about baking 500 mini nut pies for the event. In honor of the occasion, and to highlight the delicious, complex flavors of Bulleit Bourbon and Bulleit Rye, he has created these tasty mini pies with a focus on the ingredients that make American whiskey the national treasure that it is.

Jason has loads of experience baking in both professional kitchens and at home. That experience served him well as he prepared a rather large batch of tiny pecan-bourbon and walnut-rye “pie bites.” Of course, it helps to use great ingredients and Bulleit’s delicious bourbon and rye played their roles brilliantly in the preparation and final taste of these delicious little morsels.

Coming up with these recipes took a lot of experimentation, tweaking, and tasting (lucky us). The challenge here was in bringing the bourbon and rye flavors to the fore, preserving their complexity in the face of punishing heat and the resultant evaporation of the alcohol. Baking with alcohol is a futile effort if you’re truling to retain the rich, spicy character of the spirit. Alcohol plays a critical role in the flavor of the whisky. The result of all that experimentation payed off in a big way!

So, how do you create a sweet dessert that retains the character of the whisky? Very carefully. It starts with the pie dough. Take the Pecan Bourbon bites, for example. The dough consists of a mix of grain flours in proportions that mirror the grains used in the creation of Bulleit Bourbon in exactly the same ratios: 68% corn flour, 28% rye flour, 4% barley flour. He did the same with the Walnut Rye bites: 95% rye flour and 5% barley flour. Add and little butter and you have some tasty doughs.

The mix of flours works to produce a tasty pastry, but that didn’t get the bites across the finish line. The bourbon and rye are used to create the caramel. While other bourbon pecan pie recipes call for extremely modest additions of the whisky (a tablespoon for a standard sized pie), these little bites get a much more generous helping. The caramel is composed of equal parts bourbon or rye and brown sugar. The nuts are dressed with a small amount of their respective caramel companions before being used to fill the pie shells. When added to the pie shells, the nuts act as a sort of pie weight, preventing them from puffing up out of the muffin tins. Then, while the pies bake, more caramel is drizzled into the center at intervals. Adding that last bit of caramel before baking is complete ensures the flavors aren’t lost in the final product. The tasty, but still subtle whisky, comes through in the gooey, nutty pies. Extra effort? You bet. But the results speak for themself!

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Bulliet Bourbon & Pecan Bites
Makes 24

3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup corn flour
1 tablespoon rye flour
1 tablespoon barley
1 1/2 teaspoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 stick cold unsalted butter
1 1/2 teaspoon bourbon whiskey
2-3 tablespoons ice water

Mix flours, salt and brown sugar in a medium bowl. Add grated frozen butter to the bowl along and sprinkle the bourbon whiskey. Using one hand, mix flour, butter, and water until the dough comes together when making a fist.

Place the dough on a sheet of plastic and roll into a 1″ x 4″ log. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before continuing.
Filling
1 cup finely chopped raw pecans
1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup Bulleit Bourbon
3 tablespoon heavy whipping cream
pinch of kosher salt

1 strip crisp bacon chopped finely (optional) or
2 tablespoons chopped dark chocolate (optional) or
2 tablespoon blue cheese (optional)

Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl, except bacon, chocolate, or blue cheese, if you’re using. Set aside in fridge.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray mini muffin pans with non stick spray. Slice each log into twelve discs. Using your fingers, gently press each disc until it fits up the sides of the muffin tin. Continue with all twelve. Refrigerate if the dough becomes too soft.

Once all the shells are in the tins, (add a few pieces of bacon, chocolate, or blue cheese to each shell if using) spoon 1 teaspoon of nuts into each shell. Do not add any of the caramel at this time. Place in the oven and bake for 10 minutes. Try not to get any caramel on the top of the muffin tin.

After 10 minutes remove from the oven and add 1 teaspoon of caramel to each tart shells. Place back in the oven for 10 more minutes. Remove again and add another teaspoon of caramel. Place back in the oven for 5 minutes. Remove, add caramel and back for another 5 minutes or so. For a total of 30 minutes of baking and 3 additions of caramel.

After final baking remove from the oven and cool for 5-7 minute before removing from the pan. Once cool gently remove each she’ll, if necessary use a butter knife.

Bulleit Rye & Walnut Bites
Makes 24

3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup rye flour
1 1/2 teaspoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 stick cold unsalted butter, frozen grated butter
1 1/2 teaspoon Bulleit Rye whiskey
2-3 tablespoons ice water

Grate the frozen butter on a box grater. Place back in the fridge until ready to use.

Mix flours, salt and brown sugar in a medium bowl. Add grated frozen butter to the bowl along and sprinkle the rye whiskey. Using one hand, mix flour, butter, and water until the dough comes together when making a fist.

Place the dough on a sheet of plastic and roll into a 1″ x 4″ log. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before rolling.

Filling
1 cup finely chopped raw walnuts
1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup Bulleit Rye
3 tablespoon heavy whipping cream
pinch of kosher salt

1 strip crisp bacon chopped finely (optional) or
2 tablespoons chopped dark chocolate (optional)or
2 tablespoons crumbled blue cheese (optional)

[See baking instructions above.]