Sunday, June 22, 2008

Wolf in the Hen House

I can only sigh when I look wistfully at that photo. What you see there is currently residing in my very happy tummy and I wish I'd made twice as much. At least.

Wolfie started it. When I dropped in at her place this morning, she was sharing a most excellent recipe with us and if you hit that link, you'll be able to see why Manning, her fireman friend, has won well-deserved fame for his most excellent chicken hot bites.

Now, I didn't have the particular kind of hot sauce Wolfie mentioned but I have some perfectly wonderful Trader Joe's Jalapeno Hot Sauce that, as far as I can tell, worked super-good. So I cut up one breast of chicken (should have done two), shook enough hot sauce over the chicken so that each piece was well coated, then put a lid on the bowl and left it in the fridge for two or three hours.

I don't know what the fish fry batter mix is like but I suspect it's similar to the tempura batter I learned to make years ago, from my Japanese sister-in-law, Betty. If you'll forgive the alliteration, I've never found a better beer batter. Here's all you have to do:


In a small bowl, combine equal parts all purpose flour and corn starch. Add seasoning to taste. I usually use salt, pepper and either garlic powder or onion powder. You can also add just about any kind of spice or herb that seems to fit the occasion. It's your call. Stir all the dry ingredients together well, then crack in one egg and a little bit of beer. Start mixing with a whisk, adding beer as necessary, until you have something the consistency of pancake batter. Not too thick, or you'll end up with yucky, doughy fried food. Not too thin or most of it will run off the food. You don't have to whisk all the lumps out of the batter, surprisingly enough. But you can if you want to. Unless you're making an awful lot of batter, you'll have most of that can or bottle of beer left. That's nice to sip on while you're frying all that tempura over a hot pan of oil.

As you can see, this is a highly flexible recipe. The only hard and fast measurement is the single egg. Just so you'll know, the batter I made today started with 1/3 cup each of flour and corn starch. I knew I wouldn't need much batter but felt that was the least amount I could get by with to balance out the egg. I used Blue Heron pale ale instead of beer and the result was great. There again, use your own judgment. Follow your bliss.

By the way, I'm always reading that one should use room temperature, flat beer for cooking. I don't worry about that. If the beer needs to be warm, I'll nuke it briefly and call it good. Otherwise, it gets used cold and fresh -- which makes for pleasanter sipping of whatever is left over, don'cha know?

I don't know how many pieces of chicken I had. Maybe a couple dozen. Didn't take long to fry them up to golden brown and drain on a paper towel. Then I sat down with the chicken hot bites and a bowl of lemon curd for dipping and figured I'd nibble on, ohhhh -- six or eight, give or take a couple.

Oh my. It was magic. The way every single chicken bite simply vanished. It's not the sort of thing you can stop eating before it's all gone, that's all there is to it. If you make it to share with others, all I can say is you need to get your portion out of the platter right off the git-go and be prepared to guard your plate with weapons of immediate and painful destruction.

Wolfie, thank you for sharing the recipe and please give Manning a grateful hug from me next time you see him. Just so you know, you can hang out at my hen house any time.


Bonnie said...

It's 6 a.m. and that looks almost good enough for breakfast. :-) Since I don't use hot sauces have you a suggestion for it's replacement? (now to remember to come back to look for an answer) lol

Maggie said...

No beer here darn it. Looks good tho. Just our sort of thing.

Dee said...

Hmmm, interesting question, Bonnie. I would assume *any* sauce you like would work okay. Do you like bbq sauce? Or, if nothing like that appeals to you, just season the chicken bits to suit you, then dip 'em in the tempura batter.

Maggie, I haven't made this particular batter without beer but I think you can do the same thing with water or milk. Don't see why not.

Anonymous said...

Seems fantastic. I'm going to try it this weekend. Nice.
Always looking for new ways to make Fried Chicken.