Fried chicken and waffles, like they do it at The Stockyards, are a classic duo that I wanted to see if I could improve upon. It’s pancake Tuesday this week and waffles would be a fine stand-in–whether as a last indulgence before the deprivation of Lent or just for the breakfast-for-dinner thrill–but I’m not sure they’re an ideal pair. Perhaps weekly eaters of fried chicken and waffles have developed some especially delicate approach. I haven’t and halfway through the meal it looks like a toddler has had an especially vigorous food tantrum.
Also waffles are light and crisp and need to be eaten quickly. Fried chicken has bones and is a finger food and that doesn’t match well with waffle’s buddy syrup.
Not only do I think pancakes would be a better match but I wanted to find a way to make fried chicken (of all things) more indulgent. Why not take the work out of it and focus on the best part by crusting and frying only the skin? A gluttonous version of popcorn chicken.
Well, the first reason why not is that it’s surprisingly difficult to buy chicken skin. With all the boneless, skinless breasts that our modern food culture gobbles our way through you’d think that there would be a glut of the by-product. At the grocery store I was met with (the quite predictable) blank stares and even usually dependable butchers only had a “sorry we don’t sell that” for me.
Naturally the next-best solution (having a bag in your freezer that you slowly fill with off-cut chicken skin over several weeks) is to make our own chicken skin. For this I turned to the chicken’s skinniest part, the wings. I de-boned the wings and saved the bones and wing tips for making stock. There was some flesh in there so this wasn’t just skin.
I’ve had good luck with Chef Thomas Keller’s fried chicken recipe (Suresh has an adaptation of it on Spotlight Toronto) that leans heavily on an overnight brine and a quick buttermilk dip before the flour. But this time I decided that a tip of the hat to the classic dirty bird, Kentucky Fried Chicken, was in order. Without having to worry about adding flavour to or preserving the juiciness in big pieces of meat concentrating the flavour in the crust is entirely appropriate.
On ehow Josh Ozersky has a good video where he details his recipe for the Colonel’s fried chicken. Josh seems convinced that the 99x poultry seasoning sold by Marion Kay is the original 11 secret herbs and spices. That may be but I wanted chicken now and didn’t really want to contend with stored two pounds of seasoning that I might use a tablespoon and a half at at time. Instead I think the seasoning I add to the flour mix will get you close enough.
This amount of fried chicken will be perfect for adding to and garnishing enough pancakes to feed six. I used the recipe from cooksillustrated.com and find that scaling it to one egg for every two people works about right.
(I guess in that these pieces of fried chicken are about as small as they can get this recipe is the opposite of my last post about fried chicken where I fried whole birds.)
Pancakes with Homemade Kentucky Fried Chicken
Adding fried chicken to pancakes is the perfect Shrove Tuesday indulgence. The crust for the fried chicken bits is adapted from Josh Ozersky’s ultimate fried chicken recipe on eHow.
Yield: enough fried chicken to add to pancakes for six people.
- 1 kg whole chicken wings
- 1 egg
- 1 TB milk
- 65 g (1/2 cup) all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp dried thyme leaves
- 1/2 tsp dried ground sage
- 1/2 tsp dried oregano
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- 1/2 tsp chili powder
- 1/2 tsp kosher salt
- pinch cayenne
- neutral oil for frying, enough to come about an inch and a half up the sides of your chosen, heavy-bottomed pan
- 1/4 cup bacon fat
- more kosher salt, to taste
- Cut the tips off the wings. From here in, the de-boning process is easier if you lay your knife aside and do most of the work by hand. Grab the wing in your hand like one of those grip strengthening devices and squeeze fairly hard. The joint should pop. You may need to use a boning knife to cut the tendons. Pull the exposed bones away from the meat, using the point of your knife when you need to. Reserve the bones and wing tips for later use in making stock.
Using a sharp knife cut the skin and fleshy bits into pieces about the size of a quarter. In order to get the crust to a state of golden brown deliciousness before the little bits of meat overcook it helps if these pieces are frozen. Spread them out (so they aren’t touching and don’t stick together) on a large plate or (if you’re freezer can accommodate one) a cookie sheet. Freeze for half an hour.
- In one bowl beat the egg and milk to make the egg wash. In another combine the flour, thyme, sage, oregano, garlic powder, kosher salt, and cayenne. In a wide, heavy-bottomed pan or dutch oven, set over medium heat, bring the bacon fat and oil to 350F. If you don’t have a container of bacon fat in the fridge do as Josh Ozersky does and fry a few strips of bacon in the oil.
- Remove the chicken from the freezer. Dip each bit in the egg wash and then transfer it to the flour. Cover evenly in the seasoned flour and shake off the excess. Hold on a plate until all pieces are ready to go. (Any time around now would be opportune to start preparing the pancake batter. Once the kitchen fills with the aroma of fried chicken it will become difficult for any volunteers to concentrate.)
- Carefully drop the chicken pieces into the hot oil, one at a time. Depending on the size of your pan you may need to work in two or three batches (more or less). Fry, turning a few times, until the crust is deep golden brown. Remove to a paper towel lined plate and season immediately with kosher salt.
Reserve at least a third of the chicken to use as “garnish” with the pancakes. Chop the other two-thirds into smaller bits, each about the size of a blueberry.
- Heat a large pan or griddle to 375F – 400F. Use a paper towel to coat the griddle in a film of melted butter or oil. Scoop the batter onto the griddle in whatever size you want your pancakes to be. When the bottom has had a chance to set place a few pieces of fried chicken into each pancake as you would (to continue the analogy from the previous step that I’m sure made health nuts cringe) blueberries or chocolate chips. When the bubbles around the edge have set flip the pancakes over and gently press them down so that the fried chicken isn’t holding the uncooked side off of the pan.
- Serve with the reserved fried chicken, butter, maple syrup, and/or jam.